The advance of electromobility has an unexpected side effect: in many small companies, but also by hobbyists, classic cars are converted to electric drives, with very different results. However, the demand seems so great that Volkswagen is now responding to the wishes of its customers and is starting the business with the electric oldies professionally. The first project: a VW T1 sambabus, built in 1966.
Together with the company eClassics, which specializes in electric car conversions, VW's commercial vehicle division has designed an electric van based on an original VW T1. According to VW, the retro bus should not remain a one-off. Customers can order the vehicle now: the originally built 44 hp four-cylinder boxer engine has given way to an electric motor from VW with 83 hp (61 kW) in the E-Bulli. With a maximum torque of 212 Nm, the new drive offers more than twice the power of the original T1 engine. 200 km range Analog to the boxer engine of the 1966 T1, a combination of input gearbox and electric motor integrated in the rear drives the rear axle. Like modern electric cars, the retro bus can recuperate, i.e. recover energy when braking. VW specifies the electronically limited top speed at 130 km / h. This is significantly faster than the original, which accelerates to a maximum of 105 km / h.
The energy is stored in a lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 45 kilowatt hours and ensures a maximum electrical range of 200 kilometers. The battery can be charged on quick charging stations with up to 50 kW and is then 80 percent charged within 40 minutes, according to VW. In order to accommodate the heavy battery in the center of the vehicle floor, eClassics strengthens the vehicle body. The technicians also install custom-made consoles in which the battery and the electric motor are later to be attached Disc brakes – luxury that did not exist in the original Bulli. Equipped in this way, the driving experience changes from the rattling jerky mode of the former four-cylinder boxer engine to a comfortable sliding of the electric drive.
Modern technology in retro design The VW designers have also redesigned many of the interior. Instead of the shift lever in the front footwell, there is now an automatic selector lever between the driver and front passenger seats, which, in contrast to the other equipment details, does not really fit the retro chic of the car. The new speedometer with a two-line display, which informs the driver of the remaining range, among other things, is much better modeled on the original. Light-emitting diodes also indicate whether the parking brake is applied or the charging plug is connected. Instead of the round sparkles of the original, modern LED headlights with daytime running lights now light the way. There are also LED charging indicators in the rear area. When the driver approaches the van, they show how much energy is left in the battery.
The big question: what does the fun cost? eClassics offers two pricing models. If you have your own Bulli, you can buy the electrical kit including installation in your own vehicle at prices from 64,900 euros. The installation then takes between four and six weeks. Or you can order your dream vehicle from eClassics. The classic car experts then look for a suitable oldie bus, restore it if necessary and convert the vehicle to an electric drive. However, it then becomes really expensive. In the case of the T1 Samba, around 200,000 euros are due. At this price, the variant of a self-built Bulli from your own garage suddenly no longer seems so unattractive.
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