A classic Volkswagen Kombi van has been brought into the 21st century after an electric conversion and the addition of new technology features.
The 1970s Kombi was commissioned for conversion to electric power by Southern Cross University and the work undertaken by Southern Cross graduate Andy Naughton, who now works for classic car conversion business Ex Machina.
The project took 18 months and provided hands-on experience for electrical and mechanical engineering students.
Decked out with eye-catching Southern Cross colours and a brightly coloured retro interior, the Kombi boasts an 88kW AC SRIPM electric motor coupled to a four-speed gearbox and draws power from 10 5.3kWh batteries sourced from a written-off EV.
“The batteries are split into two encased packs, one between the front seats and the other in the rear engine bay, with both being charged simultaneously,” Andy said.
“An elaborate battery management system controls the delivery and distribution of power.
“This particular combination of the range, the power, the idiosyncrasies of a Kombi all add up to make it one-of-a-kind electric vehicle conversion.
“We had to learn along the way – there was no workshop manual for this one.
“The car has incredible torque and its acceleration is not what Kombi drivers would expect, that’s for sure.
“VW purists might miss that Kombi engine sound but with the whole world moving away from combustion engines, this offers a great compromise of keeping old vehicles on the road with new technology.”
Southern Cross University Vice-Chancellor Professor Tyrone Carlin said the electric Kombi was now part of a narrative about a university determined to find solutions to today’s challenges.
“One of our goals was to create a Kombi that had a range that was practical for regional Australia, and at 200km or even more per charge, we believe we have achieved that,” Prof. Carlin said.
“The romance and nostalgia attached to Kombis generally, but particularly in the Northern Rivers (of New South Wales), only adds to the story of this vehicle.”
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