People’s Transporter

While electrification might be a thing of tomorrow, will the VW cult accept an electrified Bulli for the future?

By Vedant Sathye
New Update
People’s Transporter
Back in the 50s the thought of open roads and freedom brought in the age of automobiles and saw Germany turn into an automotive hub of the world. Today, the country still stands at the apex of everything automotive, but with the new regulations stepping in, it won’t be long when Electric Vehicles will take over IC engines. Thus, the Germans are already in the works of producing a new plug-in hybrid Multivan from its Hannover plant, while modernising the setup of its 65-year-old facility with more than 1300 robots that will run two production lines for versatile vehicles to be produced in the future. 
Sixty-five years ago, when Elvis Presley’s Love Me Tender was being overheard from transistor radios and cinemas were projecting Heinz Ruhmann in Charlies Aunt, the Germans were growing fond of four wheels. The German manufacturer had felt the need for a new manufacturing facility, as it knew there’ll soon be a time when the production capacity of the Wolfsburg plant will be inept to satisfy the exacting needs of the masses. These were the times when the bread, beer and burgers were waiting to be delivered to doorsteps of a million households and the state was running out of delivery vehicles to take care of transporting duties. Germans don’t often laugh, they say, but the ’50s and ’60s saw them singing and rolling on the Autobahn as the hippy culture was on the rise and everyone wanted a car that would take them to the countryside over weekends. The country was seeing capital rolling in, post the war and the tradesmen felt a dire need to expand their businesses with additional sales.
This was the time when the Germans needed a people’s car; something as robust and indestructible as the VW beetle but which could carry a lot more people or luggage at the same time. It was time that VW decided to set up a new facility for manufacturing its commercial vehicles separately in Hannover. And it did! The first vehicle to be built at the new facility was the VW Bulli. Although, the Bulli was the German carmaker’s second car model (first one being the Beetle), and was introduced way back in 1950. The Bulli term was then earned by the microbus as the short of ‘Bus und Lieferwagen’ in German (meaning Bus and delivery van), and was thus adapted by the Germans which in-turn resulted in christening the T2 as the ‘Bulli’. The Multivan or the microbus, known as the Bulli has been one of the most well-known and leading models for the manufacturer which after 65 years still soldiers on, nurturing its mighty heritage of being the first-generation Transporter vehicle from VW.
More than 235 municipalities and states applied to accommodate the new plant in question but the then Managing Director of Volkswagenwerk Gmbh, Heinrich Nordhoff, got a green flag from the supervisory board for his preferred location of Hannover, thanks to its proximity to the Mittella canal. With thousands of workers on-site working towards building one of the largest manufacturing facilities back in the day, there was visually a small makeshift town that was being set up, including site offices, huts of workers accommodations along with a few canteen tents. 
The Volkswagen Transporter series kicked off its line-up with the T1 being the Beetle as it was the people’s car and that’s where the real world ‘folks-wagon’ term stood up claiming its name. The Transporter line-up consists of 6 generations to date of which the (T2) Bulli was followed by the T3, which also earned itself a name called the ‘Caravelle’ and the T4 was called the ‘Eurovan’, the later generations were just coined as the T5 and the T6 as they ceased to earn their place in the hearts of the enthusiasts as that place is still populated by the Bulli, even today! Followed by the 70 years of line-up, the VW T6 might prove to be the last IC engine powered transporter generation vehicle from the German manufacturer as the T6.1 which is the successor of the T6 will also be available in an all-electric variant, which will mark the start of a new era of Transporters rolling out from the Hannover plant. 
It’s been 65-years since the Hannover factory has been producing the Bulli, the beloved VW T2 Multivan. Ever since March 8, 1956, this commercial vehicle plant has produced more than 9 million Bullis to date. What makes it more special is the fact that it’ll be for the first time after 65 years that this facility will be producing plug-in hybrids along with conventional fully-electric vehicles.
The Germans loved the Bulli and it was seen within no time, as an astonishing 1.8 million Bullis rolled off the production line at Hannover with the first generation marking its adieu in 1967.
 Considering the numbers, the 3000 employees at VW who handcrafted these 1.8 million T2 vans were unaware of the fact that their craftsmanship will be lauded by enthusiast’s years after they were bolted on together, as it wasn’t a car that they had built, but almost served to a cult of mortals, may it be Hippies or tradesman, as everyone was in love with the Bulli. With the launch near of the new T6.1 and of the electric Multivan, which will be produced in Hannover, 65 years later, the journey of the indestructible Bulli still soldiers on!