1966 T1 Samba Bus equipped with modern 45 kWh batteries put out 211 Nm torque and zero-emission drive capabilities
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV) has shown the e-Bulli concept based on a 1966 T1 Samba Bus. Originally powered by a 4-cylinder ICE boxer engine, VW has replaced it with a 45kWh battery pack for electric drivability. This modification increases the torque generation to more than twice what the old boxer could provide. And since it is electric, torque delivery begins from almost zero rpm. Okay, it is still a conversion project, and VW is planning to provide these for the European customers. However, it’s the idea that can catch on. The idea is not to convert existing vehicles, but replacing the ICE with batteries in existing projects to allow cleaner city cars. This should become more part of the parcel than infotainment electronics, especially on commercial vehicles.
What is the engine setup like?
The engine on the 1966 T1 was a 1.5l boxer layout powering the rear wheels. It produced 43bhp along with 101Nm torque. But the 82bhp electric motor is able to increase that torque number to 211.5Nm. Because it is a heavy van, more torque is needed to make it move about which has improved now. The chassis too has been redesigned by VW along with the suspension setup. It now has multi-link front and rear axles, adjustable shocks, and a new rack-and-pinion steering. Brakes are all ventilated discs for surefooted braking.
Which transmission does E-Bulli use?
The automatic transmission duties are performed by a single-speed transmission setup. The drive mode selector has the usual modes, P, R, N, D and B to choose from. Mode B is for when the driver can vary the degree of energy recuperation from the brake energy recovery system. E-BULLI’s top speed is electronically restricted to 128.7kmph, which is higher than what the original T1 could manage.
How does one charge it?
Perhaps the nicest bit about it, E-Bulli can be charged on either AC or DC through a combined charging system (CCS) socket. Alternating current charging is done at a charging power of 2.3 to 22 kW, but direct current fast charging can be done at 50 kW. These fast chargers can charge the high voltage battery up to 80 % capacity in 40 minutes. E-Bulli has a 200 km range on a full charge.
Is the interior changed as well?
Well, it is a vintage model rework, but VW has definitely upped the interior ante on it. The eight-seat interior has a modern design concept with the orange-white theme all around. The seats are better, lots of convenience electronics on hand and the large roof opening makes everything airy and bright. The floor is made from solid wood imitating a ship’s deck adding more class to the E-Bulli.
Yes, alright this is a remake of a classic icon in a new avatar as a showcase gimmick. But look at the bright side where this can become a learning project. Small engines can be replaced by electric motors for zero-emission driving whenever possible. Manufacturers are working on these conversions but the adoption rate is too low. And the single-speed gearbox is magic for the new age of electric vehicles. Anyhow if the charging infrastructure expands quickly enough, electric mobility will make driving more sustainable across both passenger and commercial segments.