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All we want from life is this electric VW bus
Old-school cool meets EV internals to make the perfect peacenik van
It’s hearing-aid beige, it doesn’t have an air-cooled Porsche flat-six in the back, and it’s not even a Splitty. But we’ll be knocked down by a wayward condor if this Kombi isn’t inspiring dangerous, Glenn-Close-in-Fatal-Attraction levels of desire.
Yes, it’s something we didn’t know we always wanted: a second-gen Kombi, left looking factory-fresh – aside from a set of excellent mud/snow tyres – but converted to run on volts instead of V-Power.
It might just be us, but we think Southern Californian electric-conversion wizards EV West have produced the most bemusingly desirable Kombi in recent memory. And, let’s remember, this isn’t the only electric Type 2 in recent months. But where the ‘Type 20’ had a dismal 10kWh battery and door mirrors that look like set pieces in a Gunther von Hagens television programme, this electro-Kombi uses a much more successful formula: wedge an EV drivetrain in a Type 2 and make it look stock. And it’s hard to say they haven’t met with complete success.
The second-gen ‘Bay Window’ Kombi came with independent rear suspension as standard, so fitting the independently sprung transverse driveline from a VW e-Golf was, if not a doddle, then definitely a perfect match. While the original air-cooled flat-four made 60bhp and a racket that sounded like a badger with a pair of castanets, the new electric powertrain is capable of 100kW (134bhp) and makes a sound like the Jetson’s vacuum cleaner.
A 35.8kWh battery supplies enough juice for about 125 miles of cruising – definitely enough for us to dream of a utopian future where we trundle down to Brighton Beach, hook up at a solar-powered charger, head out for a quick surf and retire for a £5 flat white among the felt-hat-wearing hipsters. Just us?
The battery has been split up, encased in fireproof material and fit in the place of the old Kombi’s fuel tank and under the front bench seat. This ensures the stock lines – and feel – of the Type 2 aren’t perturbed in the slightest. Inside, even the factory long-throw gearstick remains. But, instead of actuating cogs, it controls the operation of the electric motor. Such is the genius of the electric motor: if you want to go backwards, just make it go backwards. No gears required.
VW has christened this entirely excellent creation the e-Bus, which is probably better than the name we first thought of: Evan. Y’know, because it’s an Electric… van. We’ll see ourselves out.