Five Reasons VW Should Bring Back the Bus

Jim Motavalli

Jim Motavalli | Sep 28, 2014

I don’t usually go to surfer websites for my auto news, but it was We Are Surfers that recently “broke” the news of VW bringing back the Microbus next year:
Volkswagen Microbus 2015 price will start from $25,000, but we expect it to be closer to $35,000. Volkswagen Microbus 2015 Release Date is held in the fall of 2014 with sales beginning in 2015. Interior, it is design in minimalist concept on 2015 Volkswagen Microbus. There are gauges and control group around the steering wheel and also pair of slim-section 3-passenger bench seats which can be folded to create a makeshift bed.
Admittedly, the control of the English language isn’t great (Jalopnik said it “sounds like it was machine-translated by a Commodore 64 and then typed into the web page by a monkey wearing mittens”), but maybe the surfer dudes were onto something—the first wave, maybe? Alas, no.

The first retro Microbus concept from 2001. Note California license plate. (VW photo)Despite repeated rumors about this—Car and Driver in 2010 (it was supposed to come out in 2014), AutoWeek this year—VW keeps pouring cold water on the idea. Spokeswoman Anna Yu tells me, “There are no plans at the moment to bring back the Microbus.” Note the “at the moment,” though.

The whisper mill has been stoked by VW’s showing of not one but two concept Microbus vehicles, one at Detroit in 2001 and another (an electric “Bulli”) at Geneva in 2011. I liked both of them, and figured they’d need only minor tweaks to make it into production. From there, a decade of rumors.

The Bulli concept from 2011 had cool infotainment (a Fender tie-in!) and an electric drivetrain. VW needs this kind of innovation. (VW photo)But here are some darned good reasons for bringing back the Microbus, if VW would just listen:

Every other minivan looks exactly alike. There’s been zero innovation in this space, but the cooly retro Bulli could be a real game changer. As shown, it has a 114-horsepower electric motor and a 40-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, but honestly it could have a variety of diesel, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric drivetrains. VW says it’s not happening because the two-row, six-passenger concept is too small for what Americans want, but how big a deal would it be to offer a long-wheelbase version with three rows?

Americans are getting bored with SUVs. Toyota has made a concerted effort to make the minivan hip again, with their "Swagger Wagon" ads. ("I take pride in my ride... Sienna's in the 'hood!") I think it’s working. A little. There’s still plenty of “soccer mom” attitude to get over, though.

Vincent Black Photo, via Facebook. See our entire collection of VW bus photos from the Car Talk Community, on our Facebook page.VW’s greatest successes are with retro cars. The company needs another hit like the original New Beetle. The redesign, an attempt to make the Bug more male-friendly, just lost a lot of the original appeal. Nostalgia sells. The Mini, proudly retro, is still selling well despite being long in the tooth. And the world loved the original Microbus, keeping it alive, in one form or another, as late as last year (in Brazil).

Ex-hippies have money. Amazingly enough, the love generation is made up of baby boomers, and they’re loaded now. They go to Crosby, Stills and Nash concerts (with or without Young) and pay $150 for good seats. They had buses back in the day, and remember every peeling peace sign and Day Glo flower. Woodstock!

The production SUV will closely resemble this CrossBlue concept. Ho-hum. (VW photo)VW’s SUVs are too big, thirsty and heavy. Instead of the Microbus, VW is gearing up to produce, at its state-of-the-art green factory in Chattanooga, a new seven-passenger mid-sized SUV. A possible diesel hybrid drivetrain has been nixed as too expensive. Shown as the CrossBlue at Detroit in 2013, the production car closely follows the concept. And it’s about as exciting as the new Adam Sandler movie. Where’s the styling innovation that went into the Bulli and the earlier SUV concept?

VW is investing $600 million and adding 2,000 jobs in Tennessee to build its new SUV. I see a market, but there’s a huge amount of competition in the segment. How about something completely different, like, for example, a creates-its-own-category Microbus?

We know there are plenty of other reasons out there why VW should raise the Bus from the dead. Share your reasons in the comments below. We'll dump them all on VW's desk and report back with their reaction. (If you want to place bets, the smart money is on "No plans at the moment.")

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