A new Volkswagen New Beetle is certainly nigh, but is the company once again pondering reviving its famed Microbus? New comments attributed to the company's global design director appear to suggest a modern interpretation of the legendary Transporter is on the drawing boards.
"I would not be doing my job at Volkswagen properly if I was not thinking of bringing back the Camper," Klaus Bischoff, head of design for the entire Volkswagen brand, recently told British publication Auto Express. This isn't exactly the first time Volkswagen has looked into tapping into its history banks to create a minivan chock full of nostalgia. In 2001, the company cranked out a retro-futuristic concept, which mated styling inspired by the first-generation Transporter with a front-engine, front-wheel-drive platform, a 3.2-liter V-6, and plenty of interior luxuries. The design was reportedly under consideration to replace the EuroVan here in the U.S., but Bischoff confirms development costs quickly killed the project. VW may have adopted the Chrysler-based Routan to fill the minivan gap within its North American portfolio, but it hasn't exactly abandoned the idea of a modern Microbus. A resto-mod Chameleon concept appeared in 2006 to showcase a number of advanced technologies, while the 2007 SpaceUp! concept bore an eerie resemblance to the scuttled 2001 show car. Bischoff notes designers are indeed working on a new Microbus, but at this stage, there's still plenty of uncharted territory before them. It's one thing to make a vehicle look like an old Microbus, but would a basic, utilitarian vehicle like the original fly in today's market, which tends to favor tech-laden, family-friendly people movers? "The key question is 'what sort of car should we build,'" notes Bischoff. "It could be a traditional MPV with a conventional interior, or we could be much bolder, designing a more flexible, versatile machine -- perhaps one that is closer in spirit to the original model. It is not yet decided." Neither, it seems, is styling. Bischoff notes that, despite the Microbus' spiritual connection to North America, the current design "is very much a European project." Volkswagen's California design studios -- which, arguably, sparked the company's retro love affair by birthing the Concept 1 in 1994 -- will help contribute to the design, as will several of the automaker's global design facilities. Will we see one? Seeing as the concept isn't anywhere close to completion, we'd argue it's far too soon to be discussing a production version. Still, if VW sees fit to push the new Microbus into production, we wouldn't likely see it on our shores until well after 2014. Source: Auto Express