Volkswagen e-BULLI concept is a little bit vintage, a little bit futuristic
The Volkswagen e-BULLI concept takes the company's focus on green living and a respect for heritage vehicles a step further. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV) has retrofitted a 1966 T1 Samba Bus with an electric powertrain and converted it to a modern, family-friendly hauler.
VWCV partner eClassics, a company that specializes in electric vehicle conversions, is planning to offer T1 conversions in the style of the new e-BULLI to European customers. It's okay to pout, Americans.
The e-BULLI concept started its life in Hanover, Germany before spending a half-century on the roads of California.
Conversion started at by removing the bus's 43-horsepower four-cylinder engine that yielded 75 pound-feet of torque and replacing it with a Volkswagen electric motor that produces nearly double the power - 82 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque. The motor is powered by a single-speed gearbox.
The motor works in tandem with a 45 kWh lithium-ion battery. The plug-in electric vehicle (PHEV) is charged via an AC charger with charging power of 2.3 to 22 kW, depending on electricity source. Thanks to the e-BULLI's CCS charging socket the high-voltage battery can also be charged at DC fast-charging points with up to 50 kW of charging power. In this case it can be charged up to 80 percent in 40 minutes. The model's range is around 124 miles.
The bus's automatic transmission selector features P, R, N, D, and B (park, reverse, neutral, drive, and braking). When the lever is in the B position, the driver can vary the degree of energy recuperation the vehicle achieves while braking. It has an electronically limited top speed of 80 mph. The T1's original max speed was 65 mph (though it took a while to get there).
According to a release, "All of the electric drive system's standard parts are being made by Volkswagen Group Components in Kassel. The lithium-ion modules are designed at the Braunschweig components site. They are transferred by eClassics into a battery system appropriate for the T1." The battery is housed in the bus's floor.
The restoration and conversion company has improved the T1's chassis including redesigned multi-link front and rear axles with adjustable shock absorbers and coilover struts. There's also a new rack-and-pinion steering system and four internally ventilated disc brakes.
The T1's design has been refreshed to be modern with a touch of retro. The look was developed by the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles design center in cooperation with VWCV Vintage Vehicles and the Communications department.
Its two-tone paint is colored Energetic Orange Metallic and Golden Sand Metallic Matte. The new round LED headlamps feature daytime running lights. At the rear, there are LED charge indicators, which signal to a driver walking up to the e-BULLI how much charge the lithium-ion battery still has even before they reach the vehicle.
The reimagined interior features two colors: Saint Tropez and Saffrano Orange. The flow is made of solid wood designed to be reminiscent of a ship's deck. It also has a large panoramic floating roof.
The cockpit has new speedometer that is based on the original, Integrated LEDs indicate whether, for instance, the parking brake is on or the charging connector is plugged in. An additional detail in the center of the speedometer: a stylized Bulli symbol. A multitude of further information is shown via a tablet integrated into the roof console.
Using Volkswagen We Connect the e-BULLI driver can also call up information online by smartphone app or via a PC and a corresponding web portal such as on remaining charge time, current range, miles travelled, trip times, energy consumption and recuperation. Music on board comes from an authentic-looking retro-style radio, which, however, is equipped with cutting edge technology such as DAB+, Bluetooth, and USB.
European customers can fulfil their dream of owning an emission-free T1 at eClassics. They are offering the T1 conversion, complete with redesigned front and rear axles, at prices starting from 64,900 euros. T2 and T3 conversions are being offered by eClassics too. The company is also offering qualified dealers a ready-to-fit parts kit.