|Concept Car Microbus
Original design, communicative interior, new V6
was developed in the Volkswagen design studio in California
Wolfsburg/Detroit, 8 January 2001. Volkswagen is showing
the concept car "Microbus" as a world premiere at
the North American International Auto Show. The bus of the
future was designed in the Volkswagen design studio in Simi
Valley and the concept is oriented especially towards the
American market. With its original design and numerous innovative
ideas, the Microbus harks back to a great tradition, starting
in 1950 with the first VW bus. This Volkswagen was successful
worldwide and reached cult status, especially in the USA,
with the name Microbus. This design study redefines this cult
with an up-to-date expression of personality and freedom.
Five metre long Microbus as Volkswagen design study for
the US market
With the background of the legendary first generation of
VW buses, the design of which is even today as well known
and well loved as that of the Beetle and the New Beetle, the
designers didn't want to run the risk of merely copying the
old bus style. The aim was to create another Volkswagen original,
which was to pay homage to a great history in its own independent
visionary way. The innovative Californian design team has
succeeded in doing just this. No decision has been made concerning
putting the Microbus into series production.
The exterior: The Volkswagen designers created a vehicle
which was a conscious new interpretation of the style elements
of past VW Bus generations. The very short body overhangs
are reminiscent of the first VW bus, officially called the
T1. However it differs from the classic bus in its exterior
dimensions: The Microbus is over 4.7 metres long, and both
higher and wider than 1.9 metres. That means that the design
study is approximately equivalent in size to the VW Bus T4,
which is sold in the USA as the EuroVan.
The front end: This becomes very obvious at the front
end with its striking bonnet. It maintains one characteristic
of the classic T1 but underneath it, as with all modern Volkswagen
vehicles, is a front-mounted engine, in this case a 3.2 litre
V6 engine with 170kW / 231 bhp power output. The new interpretation
becomes clearer when one looks at the connection between the
bonnet and the voluminous bumper and the flat double xenon
headlights and the windscreen. The design in this area documents
the exciting spectrum of the modern Volkswagen design: it
maintains tradition, but points towards consistently new,
innovative and independent characteristics at the same time.
This independence is demonstrated on the Microbus by the
particularly thin-line xenon headlights with the typical clear
glass optics. They are a stylistic counter-point to the rounded
headlights of the first VW Bus generation and thus look to
The side body: The side body of the design study is
characterised by the concept of the windows and an additional
side window in front of the A-pillar, powerful D-pillars with
integrated glass slits and large sliding doors. These doors
open and close electronically at the push of a button. The
emphasis on the powerful wheel arches ensures that the vehicle
has a dynamic appearance. They provide the space for the specially
developed 20" alloy wheels with 245/45 R 20 tires.
The rear end: A further demonstration of the independence
of Volkswagen design can be seen at the rear end of the vehicle.
The design is both clear and functional, but the emotional
form language is, however, continued. The flat rear lights
correspond in design to the front headlights. From this perspective,
the wide track and tires have a particularly dynamic effect.
As a conscious element of the design, the large VW symbol
dominates the large tailgate as it does the front end.
The interior represents a new dimension for comfort
The interior: As soon as the doors open on the Microbus,
one can see an interior, which both visually and technically
shows the perspectives for the Van of tomorrow. Large lights
integrated into the roof area create a friendly and light
atmosphere. A particularly interesting solution was found
by the development team for the floor of the interior. It
is made of a semi-transparent material with a geometric pattern.
The defining feature: A layer of aluminium is fitted underneath
this material (urethane) and this shines through, harmonising
perfectly with the other interior colours.
The instruments: A progressive concept is also characteristic
of the instruments: The dash panel base has an asymmetric
design. It comes further forward near the driver, thus optimising
the feeling of space. The circular instruments with an analogue
tachometer and digital additional information as well as the
gear stick integrated into the instrument panel are particularly
striking. Using this joystick, the five speed automatic gearbox
with tiptronic function can be shifted either fully automatically
or manually. The advantages of the layout of the instruments:
The gear stick does not prevent the driver or front passenger
from getting through to the other passengers while taking
a break from driving.
The seating concept: The Microbus has three rows of
seats which are covered in a high-quality nappa leather in
the colours "Cotton White" (seat surfaces) and "Elm
Olive" (side trims). The middle centre seats can be turned
through 180 degrees and the third row has been designed as
a bench seat with two individual contoured seats. A rail system
makes a multi-variable layout of the two rear rows possible.
All passengers have the protection of an integral seat belt;
the belts have an ideal and independent belt guide through
points in the roof pillars. The electrical seat adjustment
has been redesigned with a new layout: the round switch unit
is located on the outer side of the seat underneath the seat
surface. The seat can be shifted up, down, to the front or
back by simply pressing on the desired axis on the round button.
The information systems: Intelligent features such
as these are characteristic of many features in the interior.
The Microbus can, for example, be transformed into a veritable
car cinema: The appropriate visual images are provided by
a seven-inch screen in 16:9 format in the centre console,
four large monitors in the backrests of the first and second
rows as well as two extendable displays between the second
and third rows. The latter are located in the rear bench.
When the construction is pulled out to the first stage it
can be used as a conventional table in the conference layout
of the two rear rows of seats. In the second stage, a display
is made visible on both sides when the table is moved to a
A second seven-inch screen provides a view of what is behind
the vehicle. The Microbus has a so-called backeye camera.
Along with both the exterior mirrors, this provides a comprehensive
view of what is behind the vehicle. The monitor is located
in the roof in the exact position where the interior mirror
would otherwise be located so that the driver does not have
to change their automatic responses when driving. The system
also warns the driver via spoken warnings when parking that
they might be getting too close to an unwanted bump.
The technology of the Microbus is not based on any of the
Volkswagens currently on offer; the floor assembly, for example,
corresponds to that of a future vehicle generation. A further
development can also be seen in the compact 3.2-litre V6 engine
with 320 Newton metres.
The colours: The colour concept "Biosphere"
was developed for the design study. The two colour combination
- the darker "Elm green" in the lower area and the
lighter "Elm green pearl" in the upper area - document
the inner values of the design study to the outside: friendly,
light and communicative.
The technical data of the Microbus:
||V6 with 3.2-litre capacity
||170 kW / 231 bhp
||5-speed automatic gearbox with tiptronic
||8.5 J x 20
||245/45 R 20