Green Update–>MINI Rocketman and VW Bulli at Geneva

MINI Rocketman

The MINI Rocketman has got to be the most intriguing small-car concept at Geneva. It has every imaginable gadget and electronic gizmo crammed into a package of some charm. And finally the company is getting back to the size and style of its 1959 ancestor.

Over time, MINIs have gotten somewhat bloated—witness the Countryman. The Rocketman fits three, maybe four, into its cabin, courtesy of sliding seats and weirdly hinged doors, as the car configures itself to your needs.

At the rear, a pull-out drawer holds your luggage. Inside, a track-ball on the steering wheel controls the electronics. A removable center controller can be taken into the house and plugged into a computer to download music, navigation info, etc., and brought back to the car for the next trip.

BMW is being coy about the power source, but claims an average fuel economy of 94 mpg. So, it will most likely be some sort of hybrid.

Volkswagen Bulli conceptAnd Volkswagen is also rediscovering its past by reviving what we in the U.S. called the Microbus. In Germany, it’s the Bulli. A concept Bulli first appeared in 2001 and went nowhere, but now we have a nicely updated electric version that could see production.

The Bulli’s power source is an electric motor—114 hp, 199 lb-ft of torque—that gives it a top speed of 87 mph and 0-60 mph in 11.4 seconds (fast enough to get to the Black Forest with all your kids and camping gear), and a 186.4-mile range on a full charge. Gasoline or diesel power is a possibility, says VW.

TopGear likes it, and so do we, though production is somewhat far off. TG says:

The interior is beautifully clean, with versatile seating that even folds flat to make a double bed. Better than a tent when you’re at the summer festivals, and you don’t even need chemical assistance to think it’s a looker.

I think a TDI version of Volkswagen’s Bulli van would be a winner in the U.S. Do you agree?

—jgoods

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