The Volkswagen Microbus will return as an electric vehicle, debuting at the CES tech extravaganza before heading into production, Autocar reports.
Volkswagen has teased various versions of the Microbus, or Kombi as it is known in its home market, dating back to the start of the century but has never pulled the trigger on a production version despite very favorable reactions to the concepts at auto shows. Until now.
According to Autocar, the concept that VW will exhibit at CES will be a close preview of the production version, which be built at the automaker's facility in Puebla, Mexico, starting in 2017. The production version is expected to use the battery tech from the Audi Q6 E-Tron quattro and the Audi R8 E-Tron, giving it a range of 250 to 310 miles on a full charge.
The Microbus is expected to feature all of the familiar design cues of the original model with one obvious departure: a slightly longer nose due to crash and pedestrian safety requirements.
VW plans to keep the A-pillars on the production model as close to the front of the cabin as possible, while the driver and passenger may sit a little further back.
In terms of size, the Microbus will be smaller than the Mutivan, something that was expected with the debut of the Bulli concept which was said to be a close preview of a production version; VW will position the Microbus as a "lifestyle" vehicle rather than one focused on a high passenger (interpret that as you wish) count. Other than that, the Microbus is expected to keep its boxy design and use plenty of classic design features.
VW won't abandon gas or diesel engines: The production model is expected to be offered with fossil-fuel burning powerplants as well, for late adopters. Expect to see turbocharged four-cylinder engines powering the more authentic versions of the new MPV.
The new Microbus is also expected to serve as a platform for VW's latest connectivity and autonomous driving features -- hence its debut at CES -- though the automaker is keeping a tight lid on those features.
News of the Microbus' return as an electric vehicle date back to this year's New York Auto Show, where VW execs hinted that the Bulli concept would come back with the company's EV tech.