Volkswagen unveiled a concept for a new Microbus at the Geneva auto show, and one board member hinted that it could lead to a production version.
The concept came 10 years after VW showed its first concept for a modern version of the small van that became an icon of the 1960s. VW ultimately canceled that project.
The new concept, with an electric drivetrain and seating for six, was a surprise hit at the Geneva show.
Ulrich Hackenberg, VW Group board member for product development, said there is a "big chance" the van will be built.
VW says the Microbus concept has a range of 186 miles on its lithium ion battery pack. The battery pack is sandwiched in the floor of the van.
The concept's electric motor is positioned in front of the vehicle and drives the front wheels. The 114-hp motor delivers 199 pounds-feet of torque. VW says the concept would go from 0 to 62 mph in 11.5 seconds.
Instead of electric power, the van could be fitted with a small gasoline or diesel engine, VW says.
The concept makes use of heritage design cues, starting with a large round chrome VW emblem on its nose. But the concept is shorter and wider than the original Microbus and isn't as tall. The concept is 156 inches long, with a 102-inch wheelbase, and is 66 inches tall.
Jonathan Browning, CEO of Volkswagen of America, said that based on the positive crowd reaction he would love to have the Microbus in the United States. "We have no definitive plans to build it," he said. "But we are testing reactions."
Hackenberg said that if a small vehicle such as the Microbus were to be offered in the United States, it would have to be built in North America.
"To be economical in the U.S., those cars have to be produced in the U.S.," Hackenberg said. "Before we invest we have to see that such a trend is feasible in the U.S. and we have to move very fast."