The Volkswagen Samba Could Get a Second Life As a EV

Volkswagen could revive its Samba microbus as an electric vehicle if patent filings are any indication. Will it actually happen though?
Written by Andrew Kidd
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Jun 17, 2022
When someone mentions a
Volkswagen
van or bus, the VW Type 2 T1 Microbus is usually the first to pop into mind—unless you're one of those Vanagon fanatics, in which case we have nothing more to say to you.
But for those on the right side of history, the Volkswagen Type 2 (also known as the Samba) is probably the automaker's most iconic vehicle other than the
Beetle
. Could it ever make a comeback in today's automotive market?

Trademark filings show potential for an electric Samba

And VW van enthusiasts can rejoice, as trademark applications filed by the automaker indicate a possible interest in reviving the Samba line as the e-Bulli.
The automaker previously filed for "e-" trademarks for several of its iconic nameplates, including
e-Beetle
, e-Karmann,
e-Kubel
and e-Golf Classic. But most notably, it filed a trademark for the name "Samba" in June 2021.
Trademark registrations aren't necessarily solid proof that something is happening; it's more like an indicator of what the automaker is keeping on the table for possible future use. If you're planning on reviving a nameplate as old as the Samba, it's pragmatic to ensure you still have exclusive rights to the name.
These trademark applications are meant to cover automobiles and engines for land vehicles and will normally mention electric propulsion. But for the Samba filing, it left out any mention of such. Could the Samba be coming back as a gas-powered van for the every-man?

Remember, nothing is confirmed yet

It's not like it's breaking news; automakers file for patent and trademark applications all the time and it can be years before we see any movement on them, if at all.
Volkswagen has previously expressed its interest in reviving the Samba bus. The
ID.Buzz
minivan concept took design cues from the Samba and its microbus ilk. In another publicity move, the German automaker threw an electric drivetrain into a 1966 T1 Samba in 2020, calling it the
e-Bulli Concept
("Bulli" being a common nickname for the Samba in Germany).
For this particular electrified Samba, the automaker removed its 43-horsepower four-cylinder engine and replaced it with an 82-horsepower VW electric motor—nearly twice as powerful as the original, with 156 lb.-ft. of torque to boot.
As Volkswagen flacks wrote in the company's press release: "Never before has there been an ‘official’ T1 as powerful as this e-BULLI. New in this form, it thus becomes a silent cruiser that combines the fascination of a zero-emission drive system with the incomparable style of a classic Bulli."

Will the electric Volkswagen Samba happen?

Most concept vehicles rarely see production in their original form, so time will tell if VW will make it happen. But it's interesting to see Volkswagen leaning so heavily on its nameplates of yore with several concepts acknowledging the brand's classic vehicles within the past few years.
This particular e-Bulli conversion was available for purchase in Europe from eClassics, the retrofitter responsible for helping to produce them, for around 65,000 euros.
But if Volkswagen revisits the Samba for mass production, it could mean we might see more than one drivetrain option. VW's turbo gas engines might meet the needs of those who aren't fully sold on the idea of an all-electric van—or whose community simply doesn't have the
required infrastructure
to make electric vehicles feasible.
Again, time will tell. But we can always hope, right?
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