Volkswagen has revealed its Bulli concept for Geneva. The vehicle is a development of the Microbus concept which made its debut in 2001 and continues the Volkswagen theme of shaping people carriers, heralding back to 1950 with the production of the first Transporter, the T1, which was based on a design sketched by Dutchman Ben Pon.

More compact than the 2001 concept, the front-engined and front-wheel drive Bulli is powered by an electric motor and fitted with six seats and infotainment control via iPad. The 3.99m long vehicle sits on a 2.62m wheelbase, which is slightly longer than that of a Golf, and weighs in at 1,450 kg.

This includes the weight of the energy source, which is a 40 kWh lithium-ion battery concealed in the sandwiched floor behind the sills and powers the Bulli’s electric motor. The concept can also accommodate as an alternative power source one of VW’s petrol and diesel direct injection engines.

Numbers on the Bulli include a 113 hp power output and 260 Nm of torque, with a theoretical driving range of up to 300 km. The electric motor propels the vehicle from zero to 100 kph in 11.5 seconds and go on to an electronically limited top speed of 140 kph.

Like the original Samba bus, the Bulli presented in Geneva has two-tone paint and a distinctive ‘V’ on the bonnet, and its 18-inch alloy wheels with stylised chrome hubcaps are another tribute to the Samba bus.

The seating arrangment is made up of space for three on a front bench seat (which can be split and folded) and three on the rear bench, which can be folded flat to maximise loadspace or be turned into a bed in the true spirit of the iconic campervan (get those love shack ideas out of your head now). When all six seating locations are occupied, a 370 litre loadspace is available; with seats folded, the cargo capacity of the 1.8 metre long interior increases to 1,600 litres.

A removable iPad in the centre console serves as a multifunctional touchscreen. Along with Internet-based applications and the media centre, it also handles phone and navigation functions.

There’s no tachometer (unnecessary with the electric motor), nor a centre console or gear lever. The latter is replaced by a rotary switch to the right of the driver, which is used to select forward and reverse gears – a push button in the same switch is used to activate and switch off the motor. Another rotary switch to the left of the driver is used to control the lighting functions.

Gallery after the jump.

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