VW’s e-BULLI concept shows how your classic van can become an EV

Christine Fisher
Contributing Writer
VW

Recently, we've seen Volkswagen experiment with combining its old-school aesthetic and modern tech. Last summer, it showed off its Type 20 electric concept -- a 1962 Microbus crammed with tech and an electric motor instead of an engine. Thanks to a partnership with VW and eClassics, it might soon be easier to get your hands on your own vintage Volkswagen-turned EV. This week, VW unveiled its e-BULLI concept and announced that eClassics will convert T1 vehicles, like the classic VW camper vans, into e-BULLI-style EVs.

For this concept, VW selected a T1 Samba Bus, produced in Hannover, Germany, that spent half a century cruising around California. VW replaced the original 32 kW four-cylinder boxer engine with VW's modern 61 kW electric motor. The fully electric e-BULLI offers more than twice the torque and has a top speed of 130 km/h (about 80 mph) -- the original maxed out at 105 km/h (about 65 mph).

VW

Like the original, the e-BULLI is rear-wheel drive, and like the new ID.3 and ID.BUZZ, the e-BULLI's battery is centrally located in the vehicle's floor to lower its center of gravity and improve driving characteristics. It can be charged with alternating or direct current, and with DC-fast charging (up to 50 kW of charging power), it can reach 80 percent battery capacity in 40 minutes. But the 45 KwH battery only has a range of 200 kilometers (about 120 miles), so it's not built for long-distance drives.

VW

The e-BULLI has fewer high-tech add-ons compared to, say, the Type 20 concept, but that may make it easier for more people to get an e-BULLI through eClassics. The company plans to offer T1 conversions and T1 complete vehicles, with prices starting at 64,900 euros (about $70,000).

The e-BULLI does have LED headlights, a classic-looking speedometer with a two-digit display, LED charge indicators on the back of the vehicle and a tablet integrated in the ceiling above the windshield.

VW planned to debut the e-BULLI at Techno Classica 2020, but since that has been canceled due to the coronavirus, the company is presenting the e-BULLI virtually. We don't know yet if the pandemic will delay vehicle production. In Fremont, California, Tesla has been forced to suspend work on its EVs, but it's not clear if other automakers or retrofitters will have to do the same.