I’m not really sure if I can let myself believe this, since I’ve been hurt so many times before. But here goes: Volkswagen’s Head Volk, Herbert Diess, told the UK’s Auto Express at the reveal of the new VW Polo that Volkswagen will actually produce a new version of the iconic Microbus, based on their ID Buzz concept car. Don’t chicken out, again, VW.
Here’s what Diess said, specifically:
“... we will also have the Microbus that we showed, which we have recently decided we will build.”
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While we’ve suspected that VW was seriously considering building a new, nostalgically-designed, likely electric bus for a while now, this is by far the most definitive answer we’ve gotten.
Diess elaborated a bit on the role of ‘emotional’ cars for Volkswagen:
“Emotional cars are very important for the brand. We are selling loads of Beetles still, particularly in US markets.”
Earlier this year at the Geneva motor show, VW’s design chief Oliver Stefani suggested that the new MEB platform (VW’s new modular electric car platform) was partially responsible for why a new bus is suddenly possible, since it’s now possible to get the proper, iconic Type 2 bus proportions, since EVs don’t require a hood for a front-mounted engine.
I firmly believe this is the best news to come out of VW in a long time.
I’ve long felt that finally building a modern yet anabashedly nostalgic Microbus was what Volkswagen needs to free itself from the Dieselgate morass, and, even more importantly, it’s a vehicle that only Volkswagen can really make.
If they can do it properly, it should be something that has very little competition in its (admittedly niche) segment, but would have growth potential to go beyond.
There’s no question that the first versions of an all-new, electric Microbus will be a niche, premium vehicle, even a halo car for VW. But, if the platform is done right, a de-contented version could also find itself ready and available for the first real batch of electric delivery and transport vehicles.
A new, EV Bus could also be the first EV to really have the potential to capture public interest and attention the way Tesla has and Chevy’s Bolt hasn’t. If priced reasonably, it could also have the potential to fill the electric family-hauler role that Tesla’s Model X so far hasn’t managed to pull off, too.
This reborn Microbus will be Volkswagen’s most important new car in the near future. I just hope they finally actually manage to get it done.