VW’s Bulli concept, the VW Bus, Jerry Garcia and Yogi; deja vu all over again?

Wow.  VW just introduced a new people mover concept in Geneva that has everyone talking.  Understandably so, it’s called the “Bulli” and it’s great:

Obviously this idea shares some genes with the original and iconic VW Bus which many of us associate with the ’60’s, hippies and perhaps a simpler time:

The VW Bus has such a deep connection with the ’60’s, the counter culture and baby boomers, that a tearful one was used in an ad by VW to commemorate Jerry Garcia’s death in 1995:

So a reincarnation of the iconic VW Bus is inherently exciting and interesting to many Americans.  The Bulli concept seems to be creating the kind of interest in Geneva that has everyone hoping that VW will decide to put it into production.

Unfortunately, we’ve been here before.  At the Detroit auto show in 2001, VW showed another Microbus concept that got tongues wagging:

This concept was beautiful and even more closely linked to the ’60s original.  At the time everyone was hopeful that VW would decide to build this vehicle and we spent quite a bit of time at the show wondering how true to the concept the final production version would be.  Unfortunately further analysis in Wolfsburg resulted in the demise of the idea as unaffordable.  What a drag.

So now we have the Bulli and people are again excited about a contemporary version of an the ’60s icon.  Will we be disappointed again?  VW’s quest to sell 600,000 units (800M including Audi) in the US argues for a large capacity vehicle in the company’s line up.  The company’s lack of success with the Chrysler minivan based “Routan” supports the idea of a people mover with genuine Volkswagen character.

Seem like good reasons the build the Bulli.  What’s hard to know is the impact of VW’s desire to “mainstream” the brand in the US to increase volumes.  Based on the new 2012 Jetta’s plain vanilla design, it’s hard to imagine that much of the Bulli concept’s character will survive the mainstreaming process.

I for one, would rather experience “deja vu all over again” and be disappointed, than have VW build a vehicle that ends up being more minivan than Volkswagen.  We don’t need more minivans, but a new VW bus, that would be cool.

Here is a link to more pictures of the Bulli and a video from Edmund’s Inside Line.

 

 

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