Microbus, Transporter, Campervan, or Kombi – whatever you call it, the Volkswagen Type 2 has become one of the most iconic vehicles ever in history.
Seven decades later, Volkswagen has announced an all-electric spiritual successor to the Type 2, expected to enter production in 2022 – which means it’s at least two more years before we’ll see one on the road.
Perhaps as a grandiose send-off gesture, or to indulge those who can’t stop dreaming of an electric Kombi van, Volkswagen has announced the e-Bulli, an electric drivetrain-conversion for the original T1 Transporter that you can buy, right now.
The e-Bulli is a result of a collaboration between Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and eClassics, a company specialising in electric conversion of classic VW models.
The example shown in the press release is based on a T1 Samba Bus produced in 1966 in Hannover, where it spent most of its lifetime cruising in sunny California.
The original four-cylinder engine has been replaced by a single electric motor generating 83 hp and 212 Nm of torque – approximately double of the original power output. The motor is paired to a single-speed gearbox, and can reach an electronically-limited top speed of 130 km/h.
As with the original Type 2, all of the drivetrain components are fitted to the rear of the e-Bulli to drive the rear wheels. Power is provided by a 45 kWh lithium-ion battery, housed centrally in the vehicle’s floor.
VW says that the charging system can accept DC fast charging at up to 50 kW, topping up 80% of charge in 40 minutes. At full capacity, the e-Bulli is good for “more than 200 km“.
VW and eClassics did not just slap on an electric-motor and call it a day, too – the chassis of the e-Bulli has also been redesigned, now featuring multi-link suspension with adjustable shock absorbers and coilover struts at both the front and rear axles, a new rack-and-pinion steering system, as well as new internally-ventilated disc brakes.
The design has also been slightly “modernised” to hint at the new drivetrain underneath. On the exterior, the e-Bulli gets a new two-tone paint finish, along with new round LED headlights with daytime running lights, as well as a LED charge indicator at the rear.
Inside, the e-Bulli gets a new centre console between the front seats, which houses the automatic shifter and start-stop button, a retro-styled radio that supports USB, Bluetooth and digital radio, as well as a new speedometer based on the original design, integrating a two-digit digital display in the centre.
Other driving information such as current range, trip information, and energy consumption and recuperation, can be accessed through the tablet mounted onto the ceiling.
All of these changes won’t come cheap, as the conversion of the T1 Type 2 is priced from 64,900 euros (RM307,947), and that’s excluding the price for the donor T1 kombi van. Volkswagen says that T1 conversions and complete vehicles will be offered, along with conversions for the T2 and T3 models.