Modular eBussy is the adorable German e-van and camper of our dreams
No offense to Volkswagen's ID. Buzz, a successful design in its own right, but when we close our eyes and imagine an all-electric Volkswagen Type 2 for the 21st century, it's the new eBussy that we see. That was true before we knew it existed, and it's definitely true now that we've seen the actual design. Beyond timelessly simple styling, the new German-designed electric mini-bus also promises some of the most impressive modularity out there, switching between family van, cargo van, pickup truck, camper van, off-road adventure van and other configurations. And so far, it looks to be surprisingly affordable.
Volkswagen has given its own electric van concepts more of a futuristic identity, but Münster-based ElectricBrands keeps things more traditional. Its eBussy design looks very much like a T1/T2 Transporter, reinterpreted for modern times. It has the flat face, bright, round headlamps, softened-box body and partially covered rear wheels. Every time we stare it in the eyes, we see "T2 of the digital age" staring back at us.
Like those early VW Type 2's, the eBussy isn't a vehicle so much as the platform for an entire family of vehicles, ranging from flatbed and tipper trucks to delivery, family and camper vans. That modularity isn't just a handy available feature, it's THE feature that the eBussy design was based around, the idea being that owners can easily swap out individual modules to make one vehicle into any and every vehicle for all their passenger and cargo-hauling needs. ElectricBrands promises Lego-like simplicity in plugging and playing.
The basis of the eBussy is a pair of electrified chassis, one optimized for city driving, the other for off-road. Each comes equipped with a four-motor electric drive and 10- to 30-kWh underbody battery pack. The 20-hp (15 kW) motors are integrated into each wheel, combining for up to 738 lb-ft (1,000 Nm) of torque and speeds up to 55 mph (90 km/h).
ElectricBrands expects the eBussy models' base weight to land between 990 and 1,325 lb (450 and 600 kg), estimating that the base 10-kWh battery pack would provide power enough for 124 miles (200 km) of range, dropping to around 93 miles (150 km) when fully loaded with animate or inanimate cargo. With larger batteries and solar roof panels, it estimates range figures could rise as high as 500/373 miles (800/600 km).
Ordinarily when a van launches, we have to imagine what it will look like as a camper van or off-road adventure van, much the way we could only envision the camper version of today's Torsus Terrastorm. But thanks to the modular design and a busy team of ElectricBrands designers, the eBussy renderings show many planned configurations, including the micro-campervan.
At 143 in (364 cm), the eBussy Camper runs well smaller than the average mini-campervan, sizing between the 152-in (386-cm) Flexcamper solo mini-camper and the 134-in (340-cm) Outclass Suzuki Every off-road micro-camper. But with a little bit of creativity and a couple of strategically placed expansion modules, ElectricBrands puts that cabin space to work as an efficient micro-dwelling.
The Camper's folding rear bench extends into the rear slide-out to create a bed, while the pop-up roof clears headroom enough to stand. It's similar to what Westfalia does with the James Cook. The eBussy Camper's compact kitchen gets flipped around from the usual wide, sidewall-mounted block, tucked into the front divider wall corner with its small stove, sink and water tank. There's even a TV mounted on the wall over the kitchen.
Sure, it's more easily rendered than built, but we've seen enough space-optimizing camper van creativity over the years to feel confident it's straightforward enough to put together. And if ElectricBrands could slide a bed into the roof, that tiny van could seat and sleep a family of four ... for an estimated starting price around €28,880 (approx. US$33,850). Not bad at all.
Another eBussy configuration that's love at first sight for us, the Open! includes a van-like passenger cabin and small pickup bed, each with its own removable roof. Surfboards or not, it screams open-air adventure about as loudly as the new Ford Bronco.
Since we're still looking at just renderings and estimated prices (*provisional and subject to change) from a brand that counts only electric scooters as existing offerings, we won't spend time walking through every eBussy possibility, but we've included pictures of each proposed variant in the gallery. The Camper would unsurprisingly be the most expensive, with the flatbed mini-truck wearing the lowest estimated base price of €15,800 (US$18,500). The cargo and family vans would start at an estimated €19,600 (US$22,975). ElectricBrands plans to launch the eBussy in 2021, and those who want to reserve a spot on the production schedule can do so immediately with a non-binding online reservation.
And like that, the race is on ... will the eBussy, Neuron, something different entirely, or none of the above be the first vehicle to launch us into the age of the ultra-versatile modular electric work and play van-truck?