Don’t jump for joy just yet! It’s still a concept with a no clear path to production

Fifty years after the Beach Buggy took the U.S. by storm, Volkswagen is reaching back into its retro vault to introduce a new buggy concept at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. The new concept will sit on VW’s Modular Electric Drive Matrix (MEB) platform and will carry the identity of an all-electric dune hopper. Specific details are still scant at the moment, but if anything, the new concept is the perfect shot in the arm for those who have been waiting for a new buggy to come out of Volkswagen in the last five decades. The yet-to-be-named concept — for now, Klaus Bischoff, Head Designer at Volkswagen, calls it the “e-buggy” — will make its debut at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show this coming March.

The Rumors Were True! Volkswagen Really is Making a New Beach Buggy, and It Comes to Geneva
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We’ve been (justifiably) hard on Volkswagen for some of its recent business decisions, but there’s no going around it. If Volkswagen needed good vibes sent its way, this is how you do it. Granted, I wasn’t old enough to understand the dune buggy madness that enveloped the U.S., in the ’60s, but from what I’ve been told, it was a phenomenon unlike any other. The lion’s share of that credit goes to California-based engineer and artist Bruce Meyer, who created the Meyers Manx in 1964 using a shortened chassis of a Volkswagen Beetle. In fact, the Beetle played a big role in the emergence of the buggy, which actually took its name from the Beetle’s own “Bug” nickname. The Meyers Manx is regarded as one of the most popular dune buggies of its time, and it proved as much as B.F. Meyers & Co. built around 6,000 units of the Manx from 1965 to 1971.

Today, dune buggies are still popular recreational vehicles.

It’s taken different forms over the years, but Volkswagen’s association with the vehicle remains intact, in part because people still associate dune buggies with the German automaker.

Volkswagen has taken pride with that distinction. It hasn’t shied away from rapping the dune buggy world when it gets the chance as it did back in 2011 when it unveiled the Volkswagen Study Buggy Up! Concept at that year’s Frankfurt Motor Show. The concept was unique, in part because it wasn’t actually based on the Beetle as most buggies of the ’60s were. Instead, Volkswagen used the underpinnings of the Up! compact hatchback, including its underbody, running gear, and drive technology. The Study Buggy Up! Concept also featured a unique design that was independent of the aesthetics of the Up! It was 1.73 inches longer, 1.22 inches wider, and 7.5 inches shorter than the Up! At first glance, the Study Buggy Up! Concept looked like, well, a dune buggy dressed up in hot orange paint. Unfortunately, the Study Buggy Up! Concept never amounted to anything. Volkswagen shelved the concept, and the rest of the world moved on.

The Rumors Were True! Volkswagen Really is Making a New Beach Buggy, and It Comes to Geneva
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Who would’ve thought, then, that eight years later, the German automaker would be introducing a new dune buggy concept that looks like it’s primed and ready for the sand and beaches? We don’t get to see the concept in full view — blame the shadowy teaser images for that — but we do get to see its curves, and, boy, oh boy, it has a lot of them. The concept has no roof and no doors, as well, exactly like what a proper dune buggy should look like. We do get a good look at the front section of the concept, and all the distinctive design details of a dune buggy are all there, right down to the round headlamps and the bulbous hood. The massive and ridiculously threaded wheels are there, too. It’s not a dune buggy without the big wheels, right?

The new dune buggy concept looks like a proper dune buggy, but its most important feature is the one that we can’t see from the photos.

Underneath all the aesthetics is Volkswagen’s do-it-all, one-size-fits-all MEB architecture. If anything, the dune buggy concept is actually a showcase of what VW’s MEB architecture is capable of.

We already know that it’s scalable and that a host of Volkswagen models ranging from compact cars to crossovers use the same architecture, albeit scaled differently to fit the size of the model that’s going to be added on top of it. What we didn’t know — and what the concept is showing us — is that the platform can be also be used on novelty works like a dune buggy concept. The fully electric platform suggests that the dune buggy concept can run exclusively on electricity. Volkswagen didn’t explicitly say that it does, but we can connect the dots from here.

The big question at this point is whether Volkswagen has plans for its new dune buggy concept beyond its debut at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show this coming March. Is Volkswagen considering building a production model that’s based on the concept? Or is the new dune buggy concept simply a showcase of the MEB architecture’s all-around versatility. I can’t tell for certain, but I do know that I can’t wait to see the concept when it makes its debut in Geneva. Whatever happens beyond that is already icing on the cake.

Further reading

1969 HAZ Buggy
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Read our full review of the 1969 HAZ Buggy.

2011 Volkswagen study buggy up! High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review of the 2011 Volkswagen Study Buggy Up!.

2018 Volkswagen I.D. Vizzion Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen I.D. Vizzion Concept.

2017 Volkswagen I.D. BUZZ Exterior Computer Renderings and Photoshop
- image 700707

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen I.D. Buzz.

Volkswagen Tries to Impress with the CROZZ II – Because One Ugly SUV Wasn't Enough High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen I.D. Crozz II

olkswagen presents a concept vehicle modeled on legendary American dune buggies from the ‘60s and ‘70s
Clear, sculptural design conveys what it means to simply get behind the wheel and drive
World première at the International Geneva Motor Show
Wolfsburg (D) – Volkswagen is bringing a legend back to life! At the beginning of March, the Wolfsburg-based company will reveal the first fully electric version of a new dune buggy. Taking its cues from popular American dune buggies, the concept vehicle is based on the modular electric drive matrix (MEB), demonstrating how multifaceted the new platform is.

“A buggy is more than a car. It is vibrancy and energy on four wheels. These attributes are embodied by the new e-buggy, which demonstrates how a modern, non-retro interpretation of a classic can look and, more than anything else, the emotional bond that electric mobility can create,” states Klaus Bischoff, Head Designer at Volkswagen.

The concept of the fully electric buggy is based on the vehicles that were created in the 1960s in California. Back then, the Beetle chassis served as the basis for these buggies; now, the MEB is proving to be just as flexible. True to the original vehicles, this reinterpretation of a dune buggy has no fixed roof or conventional doors, while the large wheels and off-road tires and open side sills dominate the overall look.

The new MEB concept vehicle shows that this fully electric platform can be used for more than just large-scale series production models. Like the Beetle chassis of yesteryear, the MEB has the potential to facilitate the development of low-volume niche vehicles.

The history of recreational vehicles and Volkswagen technology is a long one. From the Beetle convertible and special bodies produced by companies such as Hebmüller and Rometsch to dune buggies like the Meyers Manx, the Beetle chassis allowed for creative custom solutions for decades. Globally, around 250,000 individual vehicles were built as one-offs or at low volumes through to the 1980s.

The latest one-of-a-kind model, the fully electric concept buggy, will be shown for the first time at the 89th International Geneva Motor Show, from March 7-17. The Volkswagen press conference will start at 10:20 am in Hall 2 on March 5.

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