- Volkswagen unveiled a restored, battery-powered version of its classic Microbus — it’s called the e-Bulli, and it’s the perfect marriage of old-school looks and modern tech.
- It has double the torque and horsepower of the original 1966 bus on which it’s based, a claimed top speed of 80 mph, and a range of at least 124 miles.
- Plus, the e-Bulli was meticulously restored and sports leather upholstery, wood flooring, LED lights, and a fresh coat of paint.
- This isn’t just a one-off concept, and European VW fans can order an e-Bulli of their own from conversion company eClassics for a starting price of $71,000, minus the bus.
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Volkswagen has ambitious plans for future electric vehicles, but that’s not stopping the company from adding a jolt of electric power to some of the most deserving members of its historic catalog.
One of those members is the famous 1960s-era Microbus, which Volkswagen just unveiled in its new, fully electric form: the e-Bulli.
The e-Bulli is equal parts new-age EV and nostalgia-inducing Microbus, courtesy of a new conversion kit from the automaker. To create the e-Bulli, Volkswagen collaborated with eClassics, a tuning company that specializes in upgrading vintage vehicles with electric motors and snazzy new components.
For the EV conversion, eClassics took a 1966 Volkswagen Samba Bus and overhauled it with Volkswagen’s latest electric powertrain, essentially doubling the original bus’ horsepower and torque in the process. Plus, the vehicle’s interior has been revamped with leather upholstery and new tech, while the exterior gets a pair of LED headlights and a fresh, two-tone paint job.
Volkswagen plans to revive the Microbus as an all-electric model in 2022, but any newfangled bus likely won’t have quite the same charm and character as the original, mid-century van on which it’s based. That makes the e-Bulli the best of both worlds.
Fortunately, Volkswagen fans — ones in Europe, at least — who feel the same way can get their own bus straight from eClassics, which is pricing its full conversion at roughly $71,000 at current exchange rates. There are also other options and prices on its website.
The conversion isn’t cheap, but at this point in development, good EVs rarely are. Learn more about the retro-futuristic e-Bulli below:
From afar, Volkswagen’s new e-Bulli concept looks a lot like any well-preserved, classic VW van. But inside, it tells a much different story.
This 1966 van hasn’t just been meticulously restored, the retro ride has been retrofitted with a modern, electric powertrain.
That electric power plant comes courtesy of Volkswagen, but the conversion was completed by eClassics, a tuning company that updates yesterday’s cars using today’s electric motors and tech.
Sending a claimed 82 horsepower to the rear wheels, the e-Bulli’s electric motor seems mighty puny, but remember that the bus originally made do with just 43.
Plus, the updated bus purportedly generates 156 pound-feet of torque, more than double that of the original four-pot boxer engine. And all that torque is available instantly — typical for electric motors — which should put some pep in the e-Bulli’s step.
The e-Bulli has an electronically limited top speed of 80 mph, which is slightly improved over the gas version’s 65 mph. That makes sense, considering that the bus has the aerodynamics of a slightly rounded brick.
VW says the e-van travels more than 124 miles between fill ups. And if owning a 1960s-era van compels you to embark on a longer road trip, not to worry — the e-Bulli can charge up to 80% battery in 40 minutes.
The e-Bulli mostly resembles VW buses of a half-century ago, save for a few modern touches like LED headlights, a new speedometer …
… and an updated gear shifter that allows drivers to adjust regenerative braking.
Plus, a ceiling-mounted tablet display helps to preserve the bare-bones look of the van’s dash and cockpit.
The e-Bulli also gets hardwood flooring and new leather upholstery.
Fortunately, the e-Bulli isn’t a one-off concept, and eClassics will build European customers an electric VW bus for a starting price of roughly $71,000. That’s without options and not including the bus itself, but a pop-top camper version sure sounds nice.