VW USA perfectly blends its rich history with future tech.
2020 will see the Volkswagen e-Golf depart this world. As everybody gears up for the recently unveiled Golf 8 to hit the streets, VW has cut back on the remaining Mk 7 Golf models, leaving only the standard model remaining. But with the e-Golf gone, Volkswagen of America saw fit to use the car as a technological donor for an uber-cool project that blends the car's historic icons with their focus on electrification going forward. In partnership with conversion specialist EV West, they built a unique electrified Volkswagen Type 2 Bus from 1972, adding another car to the recent list of classics that are being boosted by electrification.
The VW Kombi was one of the brand's most iconic models, surviving decades of abuse and love across the world before it eventually went out of production in 2014. The Type 2 is one of the most special of these vans, renowned for its rear-engine setup, cult classic following, and of course, being the van of choice for hippies in the 1970s.
This particular 1972 model has been immaculately restored - at least visually - before it was handed over to EV West. According to Mathew Renna, VP G4 of Volkswagen's North American Region, "Their passion for classic-car culture and commitment to renewable energy made EV West the ideal choice for this project." He went on to state that there was no one better to see if the e-Golf powertrain would be a perfect fit in their older vehicles, citing that "it's great to see that the spirit of hot rodding is going to live on into the electric age."
EV West professionally-harvested powertrain from the e-Golf includes the 35.8 kWh battery system from a 2017 model, giving the e-Bus, as it's been christened, a range of approximately 125 miles. Sticking true to tradition, the electric componentry has been put into the place once occupied at the rear of the van by the 60-horsepower four-cylinder engine that originally powered the Type 2. It's a perfect platform and orientation, too, as the independent suspension of the Type 2 Bay Window made it perfect for the transverse driveline, contained in a single unit housing a 100 kW (134 hp) synchronous AC permanent electric motor, one-speed gearbox, and charging equipment. The battery units are contained inside custom-made enclosures that have been engineered and reinforced to be fireproof and are located beneath the front seats and in the space previously occupied by the fuel tank.
They even kept the original long-throw manual gear shift lever, but instead of rowing between the gears, it now actuates the five available modes: Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive, and Regenerative Braking (PRNDB) - modes taken directly from the e-Golf. The gauges and instrumentation had to be revamped, too, but the multi-function digital EV gauge in the dashboard has been classically styled to give it an authentic feel. The final touches have been added to the exterior for a truly authentic Type 2 experience, with the exterior painted Kansas Beige and Pastel White.
Michael Bream, founder and CEO of EV West, said, "We are very excited to be a part of this project. Merging a historic model from an iconic brand with the technology of today is just one of many ways that we can step closer to a more sustainable future while continuing to enjoy our rich automotive heritage."
The e-Bus is currently on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in LA as part of a rooftop display.