Volkswagen E-Bulli marks an electric take on classic bus

Based on a T1 Samba Bus, VW and its partner actually plan to sell the conversion kits.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2 min read
Volkswagen E-Bulli
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Volkswagen E-Bulli



Classic cars fitted with electric powertrains aren't exactly a new idea, but Volkswagen's E-Bulli takes things to another level. I say that simply because it's based on a T1 Samba Bus and it's amazing.

VW Commercial Vehicles planned to reveal the E-Bulli at the 2020 Techno Classica in Europe, but with the event postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic, the company went ahead and showed the creation online on Friday. From the outside, it looks like the VW Bus we all know so well, but VW's partner, eClassics, has given it a zero-emissions makeover.

Instead of a boxer-four engine in the back, there's a VW electric motor with 81 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque. A single-speed transmission sends power to a new rear axle and the classic bus with an electric twist will go up to 80 mph. It'll definitely feel a lot snappier with far more torque compared to a traditional Samba Bus, though.

Volkswagen E-Bulli is a graceful take on an EV conversion

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Powering the motor is a 45 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery settled in the vehicle's floor, just like so many modern EVs. VW also said it should improve the bus' driving characteristics, as will modern shock absorbers, coilover struts and a new rack-and-pinion steering system. Both AC and DC charging are possible, and those who opt for the latter can juice the battery to 80% charged in 40 minutes. A full battery will take drivers an estimated 124 miles.

Not only is it a pretty marvelous engineering feat, but the interior design is an utter knockout. VW Commercial Vehicles worked with the vintage vehicles department to ensure things felt modern but also time appropriate. There's a modern gear selector present, complete with a regenerative braking mode, and all the materials are done up with impressive fit and finish. I really love the retro-looking gauge cluster that does its best to straddle the analog and digital world.

Anyone can convert their vintage bus with a kit from eClassics. The company will do all the work on a donor van for just under $70,000 at current exchange rates. Some will even find the conversion kits available at qualified dealers.

Watch this: Volkswagen ID Space Vizzion concept: Electric wagon is production-bound