Hybrids & Electrics

Volkswagen Will Do Electric Conversions To Your Classic VW

Some of us feel that modifying your classic or antique to make it more useable is not a bad thing. The hardcore restorers will cringe, but so what. Especially when talking about vehicles made in huge quantities there are already plenty of restored examples for posterity. So why not make it safer, better, and cooler with mods that don’t completely destroy the character of your old ride. Like this VW Microbus. It’s electrified. Volkswagen will do electric conversions to your classic VW.

Volkswagen is in the classic EV business

Classic VW eBulli Microbus | VW
Classic VW eBulli Microbus | VW

That’s right, Volkswagen is getting into the classic EV business. The deal is Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and a company called eClassics will convert any classic VW be it Beetle, Karman Ghia, or Microbus, to electric power. They’ll do the whole install.

The example here which VW calls the e-Bulli was meant to be debuted at the now-canceled Techno Classica 2020 in Germany. VW Microbuses are called “Bulli” in Germany. VW is revealing it here to get the word out that this service is available to all. Let’s dig into the conversion to give you a better idea of what’s involved and what VW will do for you.

VW made a gazillion of these classic 21-window Microbuses and variations, too

Classic VW eBulli Microbus | VW
Classic VW eBulli Microbus | VW

This example is VW’s classic 21-window Microbus. VW made a gazillion of these in all kinds of configurations. High-top vans, Westfalia campers, pickup trucks, and more were cranked out for over 15 years. This donor is a 1966 Microbus from California. 

The ubiquitous flat-four boxer engine was swapped out for an electric powertrain with 82 hp. That’s double the boxer’s output. Torque is 156 lb-ft which is more than double the original. And, it’s instant torque. The motor is limited to 81 mph to maintain battery life. Originally, these old busses would only do about 65 mph.

It’s not about speed but enjoyment

Classic VW eBulli Microbus | VW
Classic VW eBulli Microbus | VW

So, if you’ve ever lived with one of these you’ll have a lot more power to play with. In these rolling bricks, it’s not about speed but about enjoyment. You’ll be able to kick this up to 70-75 mph and not feel like it’s ready to grenade. 

A one-speed transmission replaces the old manual box. All of the old lighting was updated to LED. The motor is placed in the rear and drives the rear wheels; just like the original configuration. Batteries are placed in the bottom of the pan which has an abundance of space. It’s a 45 kWh battery pack which gives the bus a 125-mile range. A fast charge gets you 80% in 40 minutes.

This classic VW got a multi-link suspension and disc brakes

Classic VW eBulli Microbus | VW
Classic VW eBulli Microbus | VW

Volkswagen went beyond a typical conversion by also swapping out the antique suspension. The new multi-link setup was adapted front and rear, along with adjustable shocks. Modern rack-and-pinion steering and four-wheel disc brakes also found homes under the bus. This should cure the “rubber legs” feel of the original suspension.

The color scheme is Energetic Orange Metallic with Golden Sand Metallic Matte complementing. Inside there was a lot done that you won’t see. All of the seats are new as is the rest of the interior done in a matching color to the outside cream color. 

The interior and gauges were updated but look classic

Classic VW eBulli Microbus | VW
Classic VW eBulli Microbus | VW

The gauges are digital as is the gear shifter in the console. It now adjusts brake regenerative rate based on which selection you choose. But it looks like it’s stock. The flooring was replaced with wood to simulate a ship’s deck. 

The conversion is handled by eClassics in Germany, who will do the conversion including parts for around $70,000. You have to supply your own classic VW. We would suspect that if this has any teeth at all Volkswagen will try to do a similar program in the US. 

If you’re going to spend $70-big to go with this conversion start with the best you can find

Classic VW eBulli Microbus | VW
Classic VW eBulli Microbus | VW

After all, especially on the west coast, our climate is much kinder to old cars than in Germany. If you’re going to spend $70-big to do this you’ll want to start with the best vehicle you can find. 

To us, this is the perfect vehicle to electrify. It’s practical, nothing like it has been made before or since, it has value either way you go, and in this configuration, it can be used as a daily.