Volkswagen’s recent manipulation of emissions standards disappoints us all. But that can’t erase VW’s nostalgic memory for baby boomers: the VW van — some of us called it the VW bus — an icon from our generation’s rebellious era of the 1960s. And as David Webster writes at OffGridQuest.com, the company is re-releasing everyone’s favorite hippy-van … but now it’s electric.
With rumors about the return of the surfers craze, the hippie love machine might just be coming back! The Herbie-like purr of the motor coming down the drive will be replaced by an electric engine that can be charged at home. If you live under solar panels, this will be a move in a very green direction.
Since its launch in the early 1950s, the Volkswagen Westfalia Camper has been an enduring classic, an icon of cross-country adventures and the traveling lifestyle. Production ceased in 2003, but speaking to Autocar at the New York Auto Show earlier this year, board member Dr Heinz-Jakob Neusser revealed that the company is soon to unveil a concept Camper that would revive the classic van as an electric vehicle.
Neusser revealed that the Camper concept design features a small electric motor to power the front wheels, with battery packs stored under the floor. As for its styling, Volkswagen is being careful to retain the Camper’s iconic looks — Neusser explained to Autocar that it will feature three key design cues “First the wide, solid, D-Pillar, second the boxy design of the center 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.”
VW has teased a couple of different, new Campers in recent years — in 2001 they debuted a Microbus concept, and in 2011, the Bulli. Both provide clues as to what the latest concept may look like, and there’s no certainty that an electric Camper will go into production, but Neusser noted, it could make it onto the market if it has an attractive enough cost base.
Is this too good to be true? Is Neusser teasing us with hopes of an unlikely possibility? Well as many an empty dream has been found at the end of a Craigslist.org search for the old classic, and the costs of used parts and chassis continues to rise off the charts!
Unfortunately the new electric model of the hippy-classic is still a concept car, and releasing it to the masses depends largely on manufacturing cost. As Outsideonline points out, “the company has a track record of teasing hippy-bus diehards with promises of re-initiating the VW factory lines with updated versions of the classic vehicle, including the 2001 Retro Microbus and 2011 Bulli. Still, it’s worth noting that neither of these versions hold a candle to the original design.”
Rob Hoffman of The Plaid Zebra says ” If Volkswagen does revive the old bus from the dead, we can only keep our fingers crossed that it maintains the original aesthetic, rather than slapping the VW logo on a Yaris and trying to make it cool, like the aforementioned 2011 concept.”