VW e-Thing trademark reignites VW Type 181/VW Thing EV rumors [Update]

There’s more evidence that suggests that the VW ID. Thingzz, the rumored VW Type 181 with an electric powertrain, is on the mind of Volkswagen. Volkswagen Group has recently registered an ‘e-Thing’ trademark at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).

The VW e-Thing could be a concept of a VW Type 181 electric. While a trademark filing is in no way a confirmation of production plans, it is a hint that Volkswagen could showcase an early design study to gauge customer response before deciding on the project.

Volkswagen Group has registered an ‘e-Safari’ trademark at the EUIPO, which could be directly related to the new-age VW Type 181. Perhaps the marketing team is yet to decide the final name of the expected concept.

Volkswagen ID. electric car pipeline
By 2027, the VW ID. line-up would cover segments from a city car to a three-row SUV (VW ID.6), as well as offbeat ones like the Microbus and maybe the VW Thing and the e-Beetle. Image Source: Volkswagen Group

VW Thing is returning as an EV, say British and German media reports

In August 2020, carmagazine.co.uk reported that the VW Type 181 could make a comeback this decade as an all-electric car. The British publication called the future model ‘VW Junglezz.’ Volkswagen Group has registered this trademark at EUIPO, and a foreshadowing concept could be taking shape at a VW design studio.

The VW 181, or ‘VW Thing’ as Americans remember it, turned 50 in 2019. Volkswagen Group is looking for some “fascinating” models to invigorate the ID. family of next-gen electric cars, as per autobild.de. Sure, the Bulli/Microbus makes a comeback in 2022, reportedly in two wheelbase versions, but that’s not it. Volkswagen has several offbeat models on the list, and one of them is a VW Type 181 successor, says the German scoop story.

The VW Kubelwagen holds a special place in the heart of the company’s top boss Herbert Diess. The German publication says that the Volkswagen Group Chairman is sympathetic about the multi-purpose 4WD vehicle from the World War II era. The VW 181, originally a military vehicle officially known as the VW Kurierwagen (courier car), was a Kubelwagen spin-off. The German army had commissioned it, and production began in October 1969. Over 80% of the entire output of the cross-country vehicle was meant for civilian market sales.

VW Thing in the future “emotional” model range of the MEB platform

This isn’t the first time we hear of the VW Type 181’s comeback. In November 2017, Diess told autocar.co.uk that “the next decision (after the mainstream VW ID. models) will be what kind of emotional concepts we need.” Explaining what he meant by “emotional concepts,” Diess had clarified that the term covers iconic Volkswagens such as the Microbus, Beetle, Kubelwagen, and Buggy.

If relaunched, the VW Thing would ride on the MEB platform. An RWD drivetrain layout would be standard, and the option for an e-AWD with an additional front electric motor could be available on the top-spec variant. The original model had an easy-folding PVC top, but the next-gen could feature an electrically foldable roof made of new-age material.

The market release of relatively low-volume VW ID. series models is unlikely to be held before 2025.

1974 VW E-Thing

Volkswagen still confirmed the launch of an E-Thing, but Icon, a Los Angeles-based retro car restoration specialist, isn’t waiting for one. Icon converted a 1974 VW Thing into an EV as the first project of its kind. The company has kept the design almost completely original, in the exterior and interior.

Video Source: YouTube/Jonathan Ward

The 1974 VW Thing EV makes use of an electric motor mounted at the rear. It develops a healthy 150 kW or 210 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque using energy from a 38 kWh battery pack consisting of Lithium LiFePO4 Enerdel batteries. A Rinehart water-cooled controller manages the electric motor.

The converted VW Thing EV has an Orion dual-BMS with a 3 kW on-board charging system. The battery pack lies in the front, while the charging port is in the rear bumper. The built-in charging port conforms to the SAE J1772 standard, and so, it supports Level 1 and level 2 home/public charging stations. A full charge gives the VW e-Thing range of 80-100 miles, and the conversion cost is USD 120,000.

Volkswagen Group to ramp up EV efforts in the U.S.

U.S. President Joe Biden proposes a USD 7.5 billion investment towards America’s transition to EVs by building a strong EV charging infrastructure. Buoyed by Biden’s pro-EV measures, Volkswagen Group is relooking at its EV strategy for the U.S. That’s according to a Bloomberg report, which says that Volkswagen brand’s R&D chief Thomas Ulbrich told reporters in Germany in June 2021 that the company is working on an updated U.S. EV strategy. The company could speed up EV launches stateside now.

The fate of potential niche models like the VW Thing electric meeting production would depend on the success of the VW ID. Buzz. What we know for certain is that the Volkswagen Group is keen to launch such models. Herbert Diess, the CEO of the Volkswagen Group, said earlier this month that the company needs “emotional products” in the EV era and that the company is reworking the U.S. EV line-up.

Featured image: VW Group