Volkswagen, a brand with a long history of iconic vehicles and a leader in modern automotive electrification, has taken one of the most loved of their models, a 1966 Bus, and retrofitted it with the latest Volkswagen Electric drive system components. Called the e-BULLI, it is based on a T1 Samba Bus produced in 1966 upfitting it with an 82 horsepower Volkswagen electric motor, brings this into the modern EV era while still keeping the look of the mid-60s bus.
The e-BULLI feels completely different though it is a historic vehicle. The enhanced chassis provides added comfort, greater safety, and more dynamic handling with redesigned multi-link front and rear axles with adjustable shock absorbers and coil-over struts, plus a new rack-and-pinion steering system and four internally ventilated disc brakes. As in VW’s new ID.3 and future ID.BUZZ, the high-voltage battery, is housed centrally in the vehicle floor lowering the center of gravity and thus improves its driving characteristics.
VW’s designers modernized the classic exterior look of the bus with its greenhouse windows, large panoramic folding fabric roof, and two-color exterior paint scheme. Don’t let that iconic exterior fool you as there is a lot of modern technology as well. New round LED headlamps with daytime running lights in front and LED charge indicators in the rear.
Volkswagen Group Components are making all of the electric drive system’s standard parts. Electric Motor – Powerful with 156 lb-ft of immediately available torque. Transmission – Just like the 1966 T1, the combination of gearbox and motor integrated into the back of the 2020 e-BULLI driving the rear axle through a single-speed gearbox. The e-BULLI reaches a top speed (electronically limited) of 80 mph. Battery – A 45 kWh Li-Ion battery with a range of more than 124 miles, designed at VW’s Braunschweig components site. Charged via a combined charging system (CCS) socket, enabling either alternating (AC) or direct current (DC). Depending on the electricity source, it can be charged by AC with a charging power of 2.3 to 22 kW. Or using DC fast-charging up to 50 kW of charging power in 40 minutes with up to 80 percent charge.
The power electronics system located in the back of the vehicle controls the high-voltage energy flow between the electric motor and the battery, converting the stored direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC), and supplying the on-board electronics with 12 volts via a DC/DC converter.
A stylish interior concept using solid wood for the floor throughout, bright leather tones on the seating, and surfaces in colors of ‘Saint Tropez’ and ‘Saffrano Orange.’ The cockpit, while spartan like the 1960s model has been sensitively modernized with a new speedometer with a stylized Bulli symbol, has integrated analog with an LED digital display to provide the driver with a variety of information, including range the parking brake is on or if the charging connector is plugged in. A tablet integrated into the roof console provides a multitude of information.
The center console positioned between the driver and front passenger seat has integrated the start/stop button as well as a gear lever controlling the drive system. With selector settings (P, R, N, D, B) in position B, the driver can vary the degree of recuperation, i.e., of energy recovery when braking.
Via Volkswagen ‘We Connect’ the e-BULLI driver can also call up information online by a smartphone app or via a PC and a corresponding web portal such as on remaining charge time, current range, miles traveled, 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. The radio is linked to a sound system with out-of-sight components, including an active subwoofer.
European customers will be able to own a new e-BULLI, an emission-free T1. eClassics will be offering the T1 conversion, complete with redesigned front and rear axles, at prices starting from 64,900 euros. eClassics are offering T2 and T3 conversions as well. The company is also offering qualified dealers a ready-to-fit parts kit.
Who Made It Possible
Experts from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV) partnered with Volkswagen Group Components and with the eClassics company, which specializes in electric car conversions to create this new e-BULLI and plan on offering it to European customers.
We Transport Success – Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV), a stand-alone brand within the Volkswagen Group, is responsible for the development, construction, and sales of light commercial vehicles. Within the Volkswagen Group, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is also the leading brand for Autonomous Driving, Mobility as a Service (MaaS) and Transport as a Service (TaaS), and in future will, therefore, be developing and producing corresponding Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV), such as robo-taxis and robo-vans. In this way, we are transporting an entire society, with all its requirements for clean, intelligent, and sustainable mobility. With more than 24,000 employees, including around 15,000 at the Hannover Germany location.
Volkswagen Group Components – A stand-alone business unit under the Volkswagen AG is responsible for the development and production of strategic components for the Group’s vehicle-producing brands. They develop and manufacture vehicle components and shape future areas such as charging infrastructure or battery recycling, thus making a pivotal contribution to adding value for the Volkswagen Group, its brands, and products. With 75,000 employees working in over 60 plants at 47 production sites around the world. They are split into five areas of business: engine and foundry, gearbox and electric drive systems; chassis; seats, and e-mobility.
eClassics GmbH & Co. KG – Specializes in exclusive electric car conversions of various brands. A license and supply contract with Volkswagen Group Components signed in 2019, and the e-Beetle was unveiled at the IAA International Motor Show in Frankfurt. eClassics stands for the combination of e-motion (electric, emission-free, dynamic, quiet gliding) and the driving experience gained with authentic classic vehicles. The company’s services include high-quality, hand-crafted, exclusive classic car restorations using modern, sustainable materials and electric drive systems; turnkey electric car conversions – from restoration to individual vehicle approval for use on the road; the making of electric car/van prototypes and batteries; and custom software solutions. The company is based in Renningen, Germany.
This story is adapted from a recent press release put out by Volkswagen of America and Volkswagen AG