The e-BULLI concept has been unveiled by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles built on base a 1966 classic powered by electric drive eClassics.
The concept vehicle is based on a T1 Samba Bus produced in 1966 and comprehensively restored, is equipped with drive system components of the latest electric Volkswagen and the partner eClassics is planning to offer T1 conversions in the style of the new e-BULLI to European customers.
The 43 HP four-cylinder boxer engine gave way in the e-BULLI to a silent Volkswagen electric motor delivering 82 horsepower. The comparison of the engines’ power output alone makes it very evident that the concept vehicle has completely new drive characteristics, as the electric motor is almost twice as powerful as the boxer. What’s more, with maximum torque of 156 lb-ft, the new drive provides more than twice the force of the original T1 engine from 1966 (75 lb-ft). The maximum torque is also—as is typical for electric motors—immediately available. And that changes everything. Never before has there been an ‘official’ T1 as powerful as this e-BULLI. New in this form, it thus becomes a silent cruiser that combines the fascination of a zero-emission drive system with the incomparable style of a classic Bulli.
Power transmission is by means of a single-speed gearbox. The drive system is coupled with the gear lever, which is now positioned between driver and front passenger seat. The automatic transmission’s selector settings (P, R, N, D, B) are shown next to the lever. In position B, the driver can vary the degree of recuperation, i.e. of energy recovery when braking. The e-BULLI reaches a top speed of 80 mph (electronically limited). With the original drive system the T1 managed a top speed of 65 mph.
The new powertrain of the 2020 e-BULLI concept drives the rear axle. A lithium-ion battery is responsible for supplying the electric motor with power. The battery’s usable energy capacity is 45 kWh. Customized for the e-BULLI in collaboration with eClassics, a power electronics system in the back of the vehicle controls the high-voltage energy flow between the electric motor and the battery and in the process converts the stored direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC). In addition, the on-board electronics are supplied with 12 volts via a DC/DC converter.
All of the electric drive system’s standard parts are being made by Volkswagen Group Components in Kassel. The lithium-ion modules are designed at the Braunschweig components site. They are transferred by eClassics into a battery system appropriate for the T1. As in the new ID.3 and future ID.BUZZ, the high-voltage battery is housed centrally in the vehicle floor.
The battery is charged via a combined charging system (CCS) socket. It enables charging with alternating or direct current. Alternating current: The battery is charged via an AC charger with charging power of 2.3 to 22 kW, depending on electricity source. Direct current: Thanks to the e-BULLI’s CCS charging socket the high-voltage battery can also be charged at DC fast-charging points with up to 50 kW of charging power. In this case it can be charged up to 80 percent in 40 minutes. The range with a full battery charge is more than 124 miles.
The chassis has also been redesigned and now has a multi-link front and rear axles with adjustable shock absorbers and coilover struts, plus a new rack-and-pinion steering system and four internally ventilated disc brakes contribute to the new dynamic handling being transferred to the road with serene poise.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles modified the exterior and interior design in parallel with the new electric drive system. An interior concept has been created for the e-BULLI that is both stylish and avant-garde. The new look, and corresponding technical solutions, were developed by the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles design center in cooperation with VWCV Vintage Vehicles and the Communications department.
It is only when you look through the windows into the eight-seat interior that you notice that a few things are not as you might assume them to be in a T1. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ designers have re-imagined a lot of the interior, without losing sight of the original concept. The seating is one of the new features.
The cockpit has been sensitively modernized. The new speedometer is based on the original, while a two-digit display integrated into it creates a link to the modern era. This digital display in the otherwise analogue speedometer provides the driver with a variety of information, including range. LEDs also indicate whether, for instance, the parking brake is on or the charging connector is plugged in. An additional detail in the center of the speedometer: a stylized Bulli symbol. A multitude of further information is shown via a tablet integrated into the roof console. Via Volkswagen ‘We Connect’ the e-BULLI driver can also call up information online by smartphone app or via a PC and a corresponding web portal such as on remaining charge time, current range, miles travelled, 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 who find the new e-BULLI an electrifying prospect can fulfil their dream of owning an emission-free T1 at eClassics. They are offering the T1 conversion, complete with redesigned front and rear axles, at prices starting from 64,900 euros. T2 and T3 conversions are being offered by eClassics too. The company is also offering qualified dealers a ready-to-fit parts kit.