For $70,000, and a donor vehicle, you too can whizz around silently in an all-electric Volkswagen e-Bulli
You can look at it both ways but the governments banning fossil-fuelled cars, at least in city centres, have opened up a new business opportunity for car manufacturers. Converting classics to run on electricity is a thing now. Aston Martin has recently announced a limited run of 38 electrically powered DB6 models, and Jaguar is offering the million-dollar E-Type Zero.
The Germans now thought to get in on this action, only instead of a run of electric BMW 507s or Merc Gullwings, we’re getting a VW van. Wolfsburg has just revealed this e-Bulli based on the 1966 classic Samba bus and the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles division will offer the conversion for sale from $70,000, or around AED260,000, on top of the cost for a donor vehicle.
Contracting some of the work to eClassics, a company in Germany already doing electric Beetles, customers will eventually be able to buy electric T2 vans, known as Baywindows, as well as the boxy T3 from the 1980s.
In the e-Bulli the old 40 horsepower air-cooled engine makes way for a one-speed gearbox and electric motor delivering 212Nm to the wheels, more than twice the power of the original flat-four. The top speed is also higher, limited in the e-Bulli to 130km/h, with instant-torque acceleration from the 45kWh battery pack.
With a fast-charger it takes 40 minutes to charge to 80 percent and a full battery provides a driving range of 200 kilometres. If you’ve ever been in a T1 on the move you’ll be glad to know the e-Bulli comes with multi-link front and rear axles, a new rack-and-pinion steering system, and disc brakes at all four corners.
The lack of the characteristic air-cooled rattle following you around everywhere gives the game away, and you can also tell this e-Bulli apart with its LED headlamps and charge indicators (the charge plug itself is hidden behind the rear licence plate).
The bigger changes take place inside, with a new centre console integrating the automatic transmission shifter and start-stop button, plus retro touches like a classic speedometer featuring a digital display showing your range and other information, and an authentic period-looking radio with modern tech like Bluetooth and USB. Up in the roof Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ designers planted a tablet to act as a display.
Now that we’ve reached peak-Safari, when it comes to trends we can only sit back and watch where this whole e-classics thing takes us.