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The Magic Bus

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We all know and love the classic VW Type 2. It’s impossible not to. The “Bay,” combie, minibus, hippie van, or whatever you want to call it is one of the most enduring and iconic cars ever built. Its versatility, comfort, utility, and mod-ability are only a few of the things that still draw people to this German classic, and its association with the hippie counterculture of the 1960s and 70s is a large part of its legacy. And though The Who’s classic tune featured a double-decker bus on the album cover, even Pete Townshend has admitted that the Type 2 was the real inspiration for Magic Bus.

Volkswagen has introduced several successors to the Type 2 in the decades since it was discontinued, each with varying degrees of success. However, for the 2022 model year, VW is releasing a true reimagining of its second-most-popular vehicle of all time with all of the spirit of the original in mind - the electric Microbus.

Recapturing the magic of the Type 2 is no easy task. The original was built on a modular platform that was designed to accommodate many different variations and functions. There was the standard passenger bus, the stripped down cargo van, and even a pickup version with an open back for increased utility. The Type 2 was also full of personality; there simply was not another vehicle quite like it that was able strike that perfect balance between form and function, and many competitors tried.

And then, there is the cultural association of the Type 2. Popular with hippies on cross country road trips and spiritual journeys as well as surfers, campers, and adventurers of all types, minibuses were charming, unique, and able to fit almost any purpose.

So, it is with that soul in mind that VW is creating a van for the future. The 2022 Microbus will reportedly be a long-range electric vehicle capable of extended trips and rapid charging that has eluded some early EV brands. It will also be the first fully electric van on the market and will feature all-wheel drive and upwards of 360hp, if the I.D. Concept is any indication. VW has stated that they are sticking very closely to that same design, and that performance specifications are likely to match those of the concept, with some surprise improvements. And like its inspiration, the Microbus is built on a modular platform that will be shared across many VW-owned brands.

One of the most interesting things about the Microbus is its distinct appearance. Volkswagen was inspired by the circular headlights and two-tone paint of the original, and the new bus is promised to come with some very bold and unique color schemes. Unfortunately, tie-dyed will not be one of them, but it is almost certain that aftermarket creators will have lots of fun revisiting some of the more psychedelic looks from the past.

The 2022 electric Microbus goes into production in 2020, but a gas-powered version is supposedly launching next year as well. Volkswagen is counting on the electric version to help recreate the environmentally conscious spirit and sense of adventure of so much of the hippie culture for a new generation. Here’s hoping that 2022 will see a true return of the magic bus.

-Trey Fennell



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