Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has presented the e-Bulli, bringing the T1 Samba into the electric era to celebrate the classic Kombi bus’s 70th anniversary.
Originally intended to be revealed at a world premiere at the German Techno-Classica 202 event in late March, an event now postponed due to Covid-19, the e-Bulli has now been revealed online by German car-builder and VW partner eClassics.
Based on a 1966 T1 Samba bus from 1966, the e-Bulli with 61kW electric motor takes things up a notch from the original 32kW 4-cylinder boxer engine that offered 102Nm torque.
The new electric motor instead delivers 212Nm torque and the ability to whip along at a top speed of 130 km/hr.
In the vein of original Kombis, the e-Bulli does not have the swift acceleration of sleeker electric models like Tesla electric vehicles, but it has the better of the original combustion engine version, which had a top speed of 105 km/hr.
A pleasant side effect of course is that thanks to the electric drive, the ride is significantly quieter.
Energy is supplied by a 45kWh lithium-ion battery, which is housed in the vehicle floor. According to the manufacturer, the e-Bulli can drive up to 200 kilometres on a single charge.
Because a CCS charging socket is used, the T1 can be charged both at DC fast charging stations as well as via a standard powerpoint, home “wallbox” or AC “destination” charger.
This means the e-Bulli can be recharged from 0-80% on DC fast charging stations with a charging capacity of up to 50kW in 40 minutes.
The interior has also been revised – even if this is not obvious at first glance. The seats for a total of eight people have been adapted to the two-tone paintwork, instead of an ignition lock there is now a start-stop button.
The radio is also not original – instead, DAB radio takes its place, offering both Bluetooth and USB connections. Headlights and running lights, still in the distinctive Kombi classic design, are now energy efficient LEDs to reduce drain on the battery.
A two-line display is now integrated in the analog speedometer, informing the driver of the remaining range, among other things.
The e-Bulli displays further information on the journey on a tablet in the roof console. App support should of course not be missing. With “We Connect”, the vehicle owner can also see via smartphone or computer what the remaining charging time or the remaining range are.
For those also wanting to convert their own classic Kombis, there are three options at eClassics. Anyone who already owns a VW T1, T2 or T3 can get a conversion kit from the VW partner. A certified workshop can take care of the conversion.
The second option is ordering the conversion kit directly from eClassics. According to the website, there are various options available including battery size and charging technology.
Option three – likely to be the most expensive – is simply ordering a finished electric bus from EClassics. While ther eis no pricing for this top end option, VW Commercial Vehicles says the conversion will be offered from €64,900 ($A120,470 converted).
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.