Volkswagen produces thoroughly modern electric classic in e-BULLI

The 1966 T1 spent its life in California, so it was in good shape for conversion

Published: March 21, 2020, 12:00 AM
Updated: April 16, 2020, 4:57 PM

1966 Volkswagen e-BULLI conversion

It’s no secret that Volkswagen is preparing a new minivan as part of it’s ID electric-vehicle lineup, but before that happens (probably in 2022), it’s preparing a new e-BULLI — a 1966 classic with a 2020 electric drive — thanks to eClassics.

Using the company’s latest electric-drive systems, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles created a thoroughly modern classic, and eClassics is planning to offer complete T1 electric minivans as the e-BULLI, as well as offering conversions to current owners.

The concept vehicle spent its life on the roads of California, so it was in fairly good shape prior to the conversion. The first step was the removal of the rear-mounted 43-hp 4-cylinder boxer engine, replacing it with the 61 kW (83 hp) electric propulsion system (still driving the rear wheels). And, it has the added advantage of 156 lb-ft of torque, more than double that of the 1966’s 75 lb-ft.

Those figures alone make it the most powerful BULLI ever, and takes the e-BULLI to a top speed of 130 km/h, using a single-speed gearbox with the shifter mounted between the front seats. The driver can choose from the traditional automatic P,R,N and D, as well as a B setting that allows the driver to control the degree of brake regeneration (from 4-wheel discs, which is also new).

The motor is powered by a45 kWh lithium-ion battery mounted below the cabin floor in the middle of the vehicle. Fast charging (CSS) will top the battery to 80% in about 40 minutes. A full battery provides a range of 200 km.

To handle the demands of the electric drivetrain, and again for modernization, the chassis has been redesigned to include multi-link front and rear setups with adjustable shock absorbers and coilover struts.

Exterior appointments include new LED headlamps and daytime running lights, as well as rear-mounted LED charge indicators, so the driver can tell the battery’s state of charge at a glance.

The 8-seat interior has also been modernized, without losing sight of the charm of the original, such as a ship-deck type wooden floor and panoramic folding roof. The digital gauge cluster features an analog speedometer in the style of the original, the retro radio is a work of technology (featuring DAB+, Bluetooth and USB capabilities), with and a centre console has been integrated into the front bench to hold the transmission shifter and push-button start, among other push-button controls.