Electric cars… people love them, hate them or completely ignore them. But what if there were more electric cars like the Volkswagen e-BULLI? Would that change your mind about electric cars?
Concocted on behalf of Volkswagen by a company called eClassics, the e-BULLI combines cutting-edge EV tech in a classic shape that’s adored the world over. It’s not just a quick motor swap, either… the old T1 has been thoroughly worked over in order to keep it in line with modern motoring standards.
The split-window T1 – sourced from the US where it was known as a samba bus - loses its asthmatic old 1.5-litre flat-four petrol engine in favour of an electric motor which makes 61kW and 212Nm – or more than twice the output of the old engine.
It’s combined with a 45kW lithium-ion battery which can provide 200km of range, while 50kW fast-charging tech can provide an 80 per cent charge in 40 minutes.
The battery array easily fits along the floor pan of the generously sized Kombi, while the tiny electric motor and its associated gubbins – including a one-speed gearbox to drive the rear wheels –nestle under the vented rear engine hatch.
To keep that prodigious (not really) output in check, eClassics gave the T1 independent front and rear suspension, better brakes and – thankfully, as anyone who’s driven a T1 can attest – rack-and-pinion steering and better tyres.
Inside, the e-BULLI (not the town in Wollongong, NSW, but the original name for the Transporter in its home market of Germany, and an abbreviation of the German words for bus and van) is a triumph of blending old and new world tech.
The spindly steering wheel remains as does the central speedometer, but a modern shifter and a digital battery gauge have been tastefully integrated into the leather-trimmed cabin.
The retro-styled radio, too, is DAB+ compatible and can stream music via Bluetooth.
And as for its wooden-deck floor... Just wow.
The e-BULLI follows another eClassics special done for VW in the shape of a late-1970s convertible Beetle, which was built for last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show.
The electrified bug – which uses the same powertrain matched to a slightly smaller battery - was shown next to a new e-Beetle built on top of VW’s new MEB electric car platform, which is set to underpin a range of EVs from the German carmaker.
The e-BULLI is not just a one-off job, either, with eClassics offering conversion kits starting at around A$120,000. Not only that, but the Hannover-based company can also convert T2s and T3s, too.
Form an orderly queue right behind us, folks…