Cars > Electric

The Xbus modular electric van is cartoonish

You can have it in several body styles

We want to drive a van every day as long as it's an Xbus. IMAGE FROM ELECTRICBRANDS

One of the great things about the recent global drive toward EVs is the fact that more and more startup companies are popping up to make future mobility colorful and interesting with their inventions. The latest firm vying for the money in your pocket is called ElectricBrands, and it comes from Germany. About a year ago, the company showed off renders for a small electric bus. And now, the Germans have unveiled a prototype of the upcoming car and even opened up reservations. Meet the Xbus, a super cute modular electric planet-saver that would be a happy addition to city traffic.

The number of things you can do with an Xbus is just staggering. IMAGES FROM ELECTRICBRANDS

Let’s get the basics out of the way first. Standing a mere 3.64m long, 1.6m wide and up to 1.94m tall, the Xbus weighs between 450kg and 600kg (depending on the version), but promises a load limit of up to 1.1 tons. Power comes from a 10-30kWh lithium-ion battery that sends its juice to four motors—one in each wheel hub. The total power output of 20hp in continuous mode or 75hp at peak use is enough for a top speed of somewhere above 100km/h, and the range stands at a claimed 200-800km in standard mode or 150-600km with a heavy right foot. Even fully loaded, it should be easy to get this tiny transporter off the line thanks to a mighty 1,200Nm of torque.

Two things that are most impressive about this little green machine are its targeted price tag and the modular principle behind it. Interested parties can reserve an Xbus on the company’s website, and the base price is given as just €15,800 (P938,000). Running this minibus also looks like a cheap affair, as it comes with up to 8sq-m of solar panels built in. ElectricBrands claims that these panels will add up to 13kWh of charge, which is equal to 300km of range per day at a cost of absolutely zero. If there’s no sun, the car can be charged using any home outlet. In the future, owners will be able to swap battery packs at one of the many battery-exchange stations the EV maker is planning to build.

We're in love with this van's camper version. IMAGES FROM ELECTRICBRANDS

The modular way in which the Xbus has been constructed means that buyers can take one base chassis and configure it the way they want it. There’s a bus version that acts as a normal minivan, a box van ideal for delivery use, a universal transporter version, a pickup with two or four doors, a camper van, and even a tipper version for commercial applications. If that still doesn’t fit your particular requirement, then the firm will also sell you an off-road variant where you can add your own body as desired. In total, there will be 10 different body types. And as an added bonus, engineers even thought about the end of its useful life and made the Xbus 98% recyclable.

We don't really mind the simplistic interior because the Xbus is just so adorable. IMAGE FROM ELECTRICBRANDS

The cockpit is kept super simple, with just a small screen for the infotainment system in the middle of the dashboard and most other buttons needed by the driver—including the drive-mode selectors—situated around or on the steering wheel. As with all new EVs from small startup firms, only time will tell how successful ElectricBrands can really be. The Xbus sure looks like a cartoon character it has all the ingredients to be a winner, and if all the functions and the features really make it into production, then this looks like a delightful and affordable way to join the electric revolution.

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring. He writes the aptly named ‘Frankly’ column.