Zelectric Makes Volkswagen Bus Dreams Come True


Why wait on an imposter when you can own an original?

The Volkswagen Bus is one of those iconic vehicles that easily brings smiles to faces, and sparks imaginations: think adventure seeking along seaside highways with a Good Vibrations soundtrack or trundling down desert roads on quests for patchouli-scented enlightenment.

The German automaker recognizes this cache, of course, and has repeatedly teased us with people carriers that pay homage to the original at various auto shows over the past fifteen years or so. While we’ve heard they are likely to bring some bus-like creature to market around 2020, possibly based on the I.D. Buzz EV concept, some of us would be happy to own an electrified example of the real thing. That’s where Zelectric comes in.

VW Bus motor compartment transformed by Zelectric

The California company specializes in taking old Volkswagen products and breathing new, battery-powered life into them. Typically starting with vehicles in decent-to-outstanding condition, paint is touched up, trim replaced, and thoughtful touches added. Oh yes, and the cranky high-maintenance 4-banger boxer engines are replaced with air-cooled AC motors of modest output; something that allows both the dedication to simplicity and the manual transmissions to be retained.

The transformation turns that typically filthy compartment behind the engine bay cover into something you’ll be proud to lift the lid on in front of friends or strangers.

All this retro-perfection comes at a price — one that is not cheap. According to the Zelectric website, sedans start at $68,000. Still, if you like the concept, and have the means, investing in automotive art is hardly the worst way to spend money. Besides Buses and Beetles, the outfit has worked its magic on the Porsche 911, VW Type 181 (also known as the Thing), and Karmann Ghia.

While we could yammer on all day about this beautiful bus and other VW-flavored electro-retros, we suggest it would be far more enjoyable and informative for you to just sit back and feast your eyes on the video (above) that Zelectric principal David Benardo has put just together of his latest piece of work. Fittingly, it all takes place in Southern California…


Source: YouTube

Categories: Videos, Volkswagen

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

13 Comments on "Zelectric Makes Volkswagen Bus Dreams Come True"

newest oldest most voted

Years ago I was quite proud of my well-used 1964 VW “Type A” Beetle since I had a quite clean engine compartment.

But the basic point here is that if aftermarket people can make these things electric in their garage, it is obvious VW corporate isn’t really trying very hard.

I only drove a VW microbus once (or maybe twice), and it was tough – the one I drove was next to impossible to get in to 2nd gear. And so it was even slower than a properly working one.

Electric drivetrains totally transform an vehicle.

I drove mine across the U.S. to move the family…Wife, three children, a cat and dog and me, plus the needed baggage; we almost made it…but, the motor went South in Barstow, CA. Lots of room; but a lousy VW driveline…I replaced the motor three times in five years. The battery/electric driveline makes this a decent vehicle.

Very nice but I would like to see them step up in quality and use OEM componets from a Leaf or Bolt for the price of one of these…

I understand the appeal of something like this. But, given the amount of people injured or killed in car accidents there’s no way I’d drive this around on public roads without some added modern safety features.

Exactly, these things are basically a death trap. Even if you added air bags, they’re still not designed with modern crumple zones. I mean, forget crumple zones, these things don’t even have a front!

I like it. I don’t want one, but I like it.

I’ll take PS, PB, Heat & Air, Traction & Stability Controls & ABS and just enjoy watching someone more nostalgic than me pay for a maxed out Model 3 and get a very cool VW bus.

I once wondered if there could be a small biz in converting various “classic” cars to EVs so people could drive old loved cars in a clean manner.

But a classic car guy laughed at me and said “You don’t get it…the true classic car fans WANT the old drivetrain as part of the charm.” He was probably right for a lot of people. But not all.

There’s a pretty good business nowadays where a modern powertrain is put in for better driveability and cheaper too since old (good) parts get harder and harder to source.

Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. Putting in a simple EV powertrain makes it clean, quiet, no maintenance, reliable, etc.

Just watching the video gave me a big headache..what’s with all that bouncing around & up & down head bobbing by the driver??…looks like they need to sort out the bone jarring ride a whole lot here!! My VW bus was a velvet ride!!

I’m not gonna lie. That ’73 dual motor 914 made my pants tight. But $80k? Ouch. It looks like a lot of money was spent (wasted?) on making the restoration as “correct” as possible. But how “correct” is it if the powertrain is entirely non-stock?

i would take this exact bus, but it would have to have direct drive, no transmission. i would also love to have a 100-150hp motor as it seems to have room for it.

i would also request batteries underneath all of the benches so like 150+ miles of range, even if the chassis had to be modified to support the extra weight.

DCFC capable a must.