Volkswagen keeps teasing us with concepts hinting at the rebirth of the camper van/microbus. Well, the teasing will continue with yet another van concept, but this time with an all-electric drivetrain.

VW board member Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neusser said to Autocar at the New York Auto Show that engineers and designers are working on a new concept that taps into the classic styling of previous vans.

Neusser told Autocar that the design of the original VW van was “so iconic” that any attempt at a new model would have to have three “very important” design cues: “First the wide, solid, D-Pillar, second the boxy design of the centre section and, thirdly, the front end must have a very short overhang. The distance from the A-pillar to the front end must be very short.”

Naturally, we’ve seen this kind of thing before, both in 2001 with the Microbus concept and again in 2010 with the Bulli.

Jason maintains that both of these would make a far better 7-seater than the slab of Teutonic metal that is the CrossBlue concept, and I agree. Then again, we’re weird. But think about how well received the new Beetle was when it came out. A retro-styled microbus could elicit a similar response, and have some added utility to boot.

On that utility front, the proposed electric drivetrain might be a bit problematic for the long-haul trips you’d want to take in a camper, but if VW pulls a Tesla and basically makes the entire underbody a massive slab of battery, 200+ miles shouldn’t be an issue. Taking out the chunk of engine up front and replacing it with a compact electric motor could free up the space, along with providing even more interior room.

It all sounds perfectly plausible, but VW has dangled these things in front of us before, only to quietly forget about it. Maybe this time will be different. Probably not, because it’s still just a concept.


Contact the author at damon@jalopnik.com.
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