It may look like just another, albeit very skillfully restored 1966 Volkswagen van, but this is the e-Bulli concept vehicle from VW Commercial Vehicles and its partner eClassics, an electric conversion specialist company which plans to offer such conversions to the public.
The project marries a 1966 chassis with a 2020 electric drivetrain.
VW planned to unveil the updated T1 Samba bus at Techno-Classics in Essen, Germany, but that collector car showcase was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Thus, VW Commercial Vehicles has made the vehicle’s debut a web event.
VW called the vehicle “an important message for all fans of the Bulli and of electric mobility: the combination of high-end classic and high-tech electric vehicle will be available to buy for real. VWCV partner eClassics is planning to offer T1 conversions and T1 complete vehicles in the style of the new e-BULLI.
The donor van was acquired after spending 50 years on the road in California, VW said.
The original 44 horsepower 4-cylinder boxer engine was replaced by a 61 kW (83 horsepower) electric motor. The conversion also more than doubled torque, to nearly 160 pound-feet. And VW notes that that torque is available immediately; no need for the engine to build up its revs.
The vehicle has a top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph) compared with the gasoline-powered 105 (65 mph) max.
Instead of PRNDL, the automatic transmission selector shows PRNDB, the B indicating energy recovery under braking. The vehicle has a range of more than 200 kilometers (nearly 125 miles).
The restoration included an updated chassis with multi-link front and rear suspension, adjustable shock absorbers and coil-over struts, as well as rack-and-pinion steering and a quartet of disc brakes.
VW Commercial Vehicles updated the vehicle inside and out.
Outside, the look was modernized with LED lamps as well as two-tone paint in Energetic Orange Metallic and Golden Sand Metallic matte.
Inside there is seating for 8 and a Sanit Tropez and Saffrano Orange color scheme. Wood trim that looks like a ship’s deck is used. A computer tablet is built into the overhead console and the vehicle has Bluetooth and a retro-design radio face.
eClassics will offer its T1 electric conversions for €64,900 ($69,200) and also will do conversions for later-generation VW vans.