This prototype, this test mule has a noticeably longer hood and a more significant overall body. The big weld over the middle panel reveals just where the body of the car was stretched.
Of course, that's not the main talking point of this mule. The spies say it started rolling in pure electric mode after which the combustion engine kicked in. No Transporter or Multivan does that currently.
In fact, there's only a couple VWs that can do that right now, the Golf and Passat GTE... unless they make something in China we forgot about.
Our first thought went to the EA288 Evo, which is a new generation of 2-liter diesel engine already powering the Audi A6. It comes with a 12V belt starter-generator and a lithium-ion battery. It's designed to "reduce fuel consumption and increase comfort," and in combination with particle filters and stuff has dropped emissions by 10 grams.
But that's probably not what we have here. Not only are diesel hybrids pretty rare, but this is a plug-in hybrid that can power itself on electricity alone. It's even got two charging ports, one next to the door and another above the left rear wheel.
Since they're so big and boxy, vans are ideal for electrification. But on long delivery routes, diesel is always going to be more economical. Besides, wasn't VW supposed to launch the fully electric Bulli in 2022?