we're e-bulli-ent

VW’s Newest Bus Is an All-Electric Blast from the Past

March 24, 2020 Cars By
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It’s no secret that Volkswagen’s future lies with battery-powered vehicles. The company’s spoken early and often about its wide-ranging plans, centered around the ID sub-brand of vehicles that’s launching with the Golf-sized ID.3 hatchback, coming to America with the ID.4 crossover and will eventually go on to include a modern EV interpretation of the iconic VW Bus.

This? This is not that van. It’s way cooler.

Meet the Volkswagen E-Bulli, a classic Type 2 van that’s been thoroughly restored and reimagined with an electric powertrain. The powerplant — a motor that makes 82 horsepower, which sounds wimpy until you realize that’s twice the power of the original-issue flat-four — comes from the carmaker, but it was outfitted into the Bus by eClassics, which has collaborated with VW on electrification projects in the past.

A 45-kWh battery laid along the floor of the vehicle serves up more than 124 miles of range — which is probably about as far as you want to drive a 50-year-old VW, powerplant swap or not. Still, if you want to keep going past that, a 50-kW fast charger can dump electrons into it fast enough to get it from near-empty to 80 percent full in 40 min. Cosmetically, it looks much the same as a VW Bus of old, albeit refinished with new seats, LED lighting, a wood floor and a shift lever out of a modern Volkswagen.

Here’s the good news: eClassics will build you an electric Bus all your own just like this one. (In fact, they’ll even perform the same conversion on a Vanagon, if you’d rather have something a little newer.) The conversion runs roughly $70,000 — not counting the cost of the donor vehicle, as this is a BYOB (Bring Your Own Bus) process.

And here’s the bad news: as eClassics reportedly has no plans to bring these Stateside, you’ll have to walk through the legal and technical morass of bringing your converted e-van over from Europe. Still, if you’ve got the means and the will, this seems like one hell of a cool way to future-proof a vintage Vee-Dub.

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Will Sabel Courtney

Will Sabel Courtney is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Editor, formerly of The Drive and RIDES Magazine. You can often find him test-driving new cars in New York City, cursing the slow-moving traffic surrounding him.

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