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Volkswagen of America collaborates with EV West to electrify a 1972 Type 2 Bus

Showcasing the possibilities of the e-Golf powertrain to motivate classic VW models, Volkswagen of America recently commissioned west coast electric vehicle conversion specialist EV West to construct an electrified Volkswagen Type 2 Bus.


The professionally harvested stock powertrain and 35.8 kWh battery system from the donor 2017 e-Golf gives the e-Bus an approximate range of 125 miles. The powertrain will reside in the rear compartment of the e-Bus, which was previously occupied by the stock air-cooled 60-horsepower four-cylinder engine.


The independent rear suspension of the Type 2 Bay Window makes a perfect mate to the transverse driveline which is contained in a single unit that houses the 100kW synchronous AC permanent magnet electric motor, one-speed transmission and charging system.


Most of the other exterior and interior features of the e-Bus will remain, mostly unchanged. The battery units are contained inside custom engineered, reinforced and fireproof enclosures located under the front seats and in the former location of the fuel tank.

The stock long-throw shifter remains but now actuates park, reverse, neutral, drive, and the regenerative braking modes (PRNDB) that are all familiar aspects of the e-Golf.


To further maintain its authentic feel, the e-Bus will be fitted with a classically styled multi-function digital EV gauge in the dashboard. This gauge allows the operator to cycle through multiple views and monitor vehicle outputs.



This is not the first VW Micro Bus converted to electric power. In 1968, Walley Ripple had converted a 1958 VW Micro Bus to electric power and had challenged MIT to a cross country electric vehicle race. The MIT vehicle was a 1968 Corvair which was chosen as it was one of the more aerodynamic vehicles available. I was a part time ME grad student at MIT at the time and worked on this project. One of my best friends was on the team that drove west with his 1966 427 Corvette as a backup/tow car. MIT crossed the finish line first but had more tow distance. Near the end the MIT car needed to be towed but was left in first gear which caused the motor to over-speed and detonate. So they towed it over the finish line. The MIT car had 2000 lbs of NiCd batteries with 7.5 kWhr of energy but it would charge in 10 minutes. Caltech used a lead acid type battery.

Interesting to see what a difference 50 years makes.


As a follow on comment, I once borrowed a VW Micro Bus of this vintage to move something. It was by far the worst handling vehicle that I have ever driven so it is not something that makes a good EV donor vehicle. If there was ever a vehicle that should be banned from driving on the highways this is it.

EV West does beautiful work.

Congratulations to Michael Bream and team for landing the highest profile client in the world for this Micro Bus. That is a quite an honor and testament to the quality of their craftsmanship.

I imagine VW has some very specific plans for this vehicle in preparation for a new car release. This is one of at least two vintage Micro Buses that have been converted in recent years.

Alan Hubbard

Re; the Post by: sd | 23 November 2019 at 07:14 AM

Sorry you are wrong, VW bus in good shape handles well, once you get used to sitting on the front wheels. Electric Bus is likely to have an even better center of gravity, and have better handling than an air cooled Bus.

Alan, I guess it depends on your definition of “handles well.” You can see in the profile view that the entire body is above the wheel centerline.

About 40 years ago, I was driving right behind a microbus that that took a right turn at speed and rolled twice. It’s an experience I will never forget.


Alan, the later versions of the VW bus make had somewhat reasonable handling but the older VW buses with swing axles were the most evil handling vehicle that I have ever driven. The older VW bugs with swing axles were bad enough but the CG of the buses were higher and the rear axles had an offset gearing hub which increased the probability of what is referred to as jacking which causes the outside rear axle to tuck under raising the CG even further and resulting in a roll over accident.

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