Volkswagen Camper To Return As Battery-Electric Van

APR 2 2015 BY MARK KANE 30

Volkswagen Transporter began 65 years ago

Volkswagen Transporter began 65 years ago

Volkswagen board member Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neusser revealed at the 2015 New York Auto Show that VW’s classic camper van Bulli will return in electric version.

Production of Volkswagen Transporter (Bulli) began in Wolfsburg 65 years ago.

In 2011, the German manufacturer unveiled a concept version of electric Bulli, but until now there were no signs of a production version.

As it turns out, the electric motor could be easily implemented in the unique design with a battery pack hidden in the floor:

“Speaking at the New York show, Neusser revealed that VW engineers and designers were working on a new Camper van concept using a small electric motor driving the front wheels and battery packs stored under the floor.

Neusser told Autocar that the design of the original VW van was “so iconic” that any attempt at a new model would have to have three “very important” design cues: “First the wide, solid, D-Pillar, second the boxy design of the centre section and, thirdly, the front end must have a very short overhang. The distance from the A-pillar to the front end must be very short.”

The key to achieving the unique front-end design is the fact that an electric motor would allow a much lower “bonnet line” than a conventional petrol engine. This, in turn, would allow the A-pillars to be placed much further forward than in a conventional MPV.

Such a car, he said, with an attractive cost base could make it into production. Work on the concept was currently ongoing at VW, Neusser confirmed.”

Source: Autocar

Categories: Volkswagen


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30 Comments on "Volkswagen Camper To Return As Battery-Electric Van"

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I once had a 1973 VW transporter. I have often thought it would have made a great EV conversion. Feeling a bit nostalgic.

I use to own and love a 64 version and they make great EV’s as light, fairly aero and mine had a bed in it.
This one looks nothing like it, too small and ugly and it is NOT a truck.
That said the form factor, size if can be kept light, aero is an excellent EV
Would make a good taxi.
But we need an EV multiple use van for business, etc instead of another 4seat passenger EV VW already has.

Love this, hope April 1 is over.

The Bulli was as ugly then as it is now, but Kia has had great success with the similarly-shaped SOUL, and has now beaten VW to the utilibox EV niche with a widening SOUL EV release, plus it has CHAdeMO rather than the undeployed SAE Frankenplug combo. I love VWs, but once again, there’s nothing here to move my VW ownership out of the aircooled era.

Oh THAT’S why when I saw this the word ARSE sprang to mind.
This is one UGLY vehicle!
I think the only reason they are thinking of bringing it out as electric is that people with taste(or just eyes) won’t be able to rip the filler cap open, and stuff a lit rag down the neck to put us out of our misery!

Exactly. I liked basically all the 6 volt VW’s. When they went to 12 volt systems in 1967 they coincidentally got super fancy/gadgety in other areas, something they used to criticize others about.

The engines got too big, and they put in semi automatics, then full automatics, then their reliability went way down.

The extremely space efficient black and white photoed microbus should be a great candidate for electrification since there is so much battery room. Just don’t put a bigger motor in than 50 odd horsepower since that’s around all the original had as a gas engine anyway.

Nahh. Your all wrong Bill.
The 67 was the best year. It had the 12 v electrical system but still retained the original more stylish bumpers. 🙂

“…could make it into production. Work on the concept was currently ongoing at VW”

The tile of the article is misleading.
Another concept in progress and maybe a production if maybe the price is good.

Yeup. Another VW EV PR release, over an old BEV prototype they showed years ago…

Wake me up when they actually build something– and it’s for sale in a non-CARB State.

I believe it when I see it at my VW dealer’s showroom (and I live in a “Non-CARB state”)…

First, Elon Musk was misled. Now, InsideEVs readers are misled. What’s this world coming to? 😉

I think we’ll see the Strechla on the road before we ever see an EV camper van from VW.

By the way: what ever happened to this project ? Is it still “on hold” ? I would love to see the “Stretchla” on the road in the near future !

Strechla project came to a screeching halt when Tesla Motors refused to support hobbyists.

Otmar intended to integrate all Tesla systems into the project. Now, without support, everything has to be built and integrated from scratch to even think about it.

Like I’ve said before, you don’t own it. Builders and hackers are at the mercy of the vehicle manufacturer.

It’s a long ways from the good-ole-days when you purchased a pile of mechanical devices and modified them at will.

Is one of the main reasons I own and drive old iron. I like something that any Joe Sixpack can work on. Not an on-board computer to be seen on any ICE I own.

Same with a conversion EV. I, me. and me controls the software and parameters of operation.

You either own it or you don’t.

Apparently Bill Gates and Elon Musk would both disagree with that.


I had a 58 with the old 36 hp. It was a great bus. I also had a 66 bug 1300 that was nice also.

I think electric Van is a great idea but I can’t really see it as a camper….just a great people/stuff mover in town. Put lots of battery in it and dual motors….one in front and one in back.

If there isn’t much of a front section, I wonder how it will do on crash tests. I think VW should give up on the old microbus due to design not being safe.

Having said that, if they can make it safe in a front end crash and not expensive, I’d buy one quickly. Love the 3 person bench seating in the front, panoramic roof, fold down bed, and of course that is electric with very long range.

It will easily meet current crash standards. The driver is much further back than in the original. In Europe this means a 64 km/h (40 MPH) frontal offset collision, as tested by Euro NCAP.

However, meeting standards is one thing, exceeding them the way the Model S does with its long front crumple zone is another thing entirely. As with all EVs, it will also be assisted by the extra mass of the battery pack in a collision against another car. If you crash against a fixed object like a non-collapsing pole, the extra mass will not help.

If they build it, it will be safe, just not out of the ordinary safe.

Nice looking van. I bet it would sell well, especially with a nice big skateboard battery.

I love the idea of an Electric VW Van. This doesn’t look like it… in terms of powertrain… scaling up the iMiev model where the below decks rear wheel drive system is powered and then hiding a large battery pack under a thick floor seems like a great idea.
Also… this isn’t long enough to be a van… 4 seats… no cargo space… no sleeper space… the look is cool… but Bulli Concept is no VW van.

You are absolutely right Jeff. As much as I like the idea of an EV Van from VW, this one looks rather like a stylish KIA Soul – it is just too small to be a real “Bulli”.

The Bulli was quite small. It simply had no crush zone so the driver’s row could be all the way up front. You just can’t build it that way today.
The Bulli can come back once every car on the road is self-driving, and accidents become so rare that passive safety is pointless. We are a long, long way from that day.

Even if VW makes a BEV Transporter, I doubt that it will be available in the US as a BEV. Perhaps PHEV, if we are lucky.

The energy demands for such a vehicle doing highway traveling are very high, so a decent range will need lots of batteries which cause more weight needing more batteries so the cost goes …

If they build it for the US, they’ll probably do just like Nissan did with their people mover van. Stuff the Leaf battery in it and call it good enough.

If the VW “van” gets an e-Golf battery, it will be just another disappointing short range vehicle designed to say, “I told you EV’s wouldn’t catch on.” Put in enough battery for 150 mile {minimum} range, with a longer range pack available and watch it take off.

Is this new? VW has previously presented a concept EV minibus with impressive specs. But of course, it never was produced. And if it was, it would have been VERY expensive due to the amount of batteries that would be needed to meet their stated range.

But perhaps batteries are cheaper now and they are thinking of making it?

That is fantastic. Room to install batteries and room for people.

Good videos from this guy too on his conversion of a VW microbus.

200+ miles of real word range. Great thermal management at low energy cost. Battery warranty on par with the Nissan Leaf. I’d drive this.

I really like it! They should make it, with a decent sized battery in the floor.

The Electric Car Underground

Love the idea. Now if they can only make it look more like a pre 68 bus, and less like a toaster from Target, they will sell the heck out of them…

Ugly as!

Turn on, tune in, drop out! …oh, sorry, having a flashback to the sixties.

Before the minivan, there was the Volkswagen Microbus. But now that there are minivans from several auto makers… not sure how much market there is for this vehicle.