Rebecca Lindland | March 25, 2020
There are few vehicles more iconic than the classic VW Bus, a symbol of peace, love, road tripping, and carefree living. Plans are in place to introduce an electric Volkswagen van inspired by the Microbus, but in the meantime, the company has teamed up with eClassics to satisfy immediate demand for an electric VW Bus.
Based on an original 1966 T1 Samba bus produced in Hannover, Germany and sourced from California, the first example of the eClassics electric Volkswagen Bus is christened the e-BULLI.
Using VW’s latest electric drive system, the e-BULLI packs 82 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of instantaneous torque, making it the most powerful VW Microbus ever produced. A single-speed automatic transmission powers the rear-drive electric VW van, with a special “B” gear to maximize energy recovery while braking. The e-BULLI has an electronically-controlled top speed of 80 mph, besting the original T1’s 65 mph but not exactly blowing its doors off.
Honoring the classic T1 bus, the 2020 VW e-BULLI gearbox and electric motor are positioned in the back with the charging port smartly hidden behind the license plate. A lithium-ion battery with 45 kWh of usable energy lines the floor, delivering a lower center of gravity and improving driving dynamics. VW’s electric drive uses a readily-available combined charging system (CCS) port and is compatible with DC fast-charging of up to 50 kW. The e-BULLI can be recharged up to 80 percent of its estimated 124 miles of range in 40 minutes.
A new chassis adds comfort and safety for the occupants, including a multi-link front and rear axle with adjustable shock absorbers and struts. A new rack-and-pinion steering mechanism and ventilated disc brakes further contribute to the modern ride and handling of the electric VW van.
VW called upon its Vintage Vehicles department to pay homage to and modernize the look and feel of the e-BULLI. The two-tone paintwork in Energetic Orange Metallic and Golden Sand Metallic Matte celebrates the history of the van, while new round LED headlamps with daytime running lights provide modern illumination levels. Vertical oval LED indicators grace the rear, signaling the charging status of the battery.
In keeping with the two-tone exterior paint, the e-BULLI’s eight-seat interior is also two-tone, with gorgeous Saint Tropez and Saffrano Orange material adorning the seats and surroundings for an authentic mid-century vibe. The floor is solid wood and the roof an enormous folding panoramic affair, creating a seaside California feel.
A digital display integrated into an old-style speedometer provides electric driving range, a parking brake indicator, and the charging connection status within the spartan cockpit. In true on-trend style, a tablet integrated into the roof above the rear-view mirror relays more detailed information.
The floor-mounted center console holds the gearshift lever and stop-start button. An old-school dial radio in the center of the dashboard cleverly supports cutting edge technology such as Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB+), Bluetooth, a USB port, and a discreetly hidden sound system.
While VW won’t directly market the Volkswagen electric bus in the U.S., eClassics offers a variety of conversion packages to European clients who already own a historic VW van such as a T1, T2, T3, Samba, Camper, or Prische. A range of pricing is available. A T1 conversion kit with redesigned front and rear axles is available from 33,900 euros (about $36,900) while a turnkey T1 conversion e-BULLI starts at 64,900 euros (about $69,700).
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