Many of us have heard that the future of automobiles is electric, and in many ways it feels like the future is already here. The majority of major auto brands already have at least one all-electric car or plan to launch one soon, and the New York Times recently reported that US EV sales from April to June this year doubled historical levels a year ago!
But while it may feel like we’re living in the Jetsons (I know, I know, we don’t have flying cars yet, but close enough!), innovation doesn’t just stop when we reach a goal.
Many companies are going beyond electric motors, striving for sustainability and functioning in myriad other ways. Take Fisker Inc.’s Ocean SUV with an innovative solar roof. Or ElectricBrands, a German EV startup that plans to launch the XBUS, an innovative, modular bus concept, in 2023. We think you’ll be amazed by the ingenuity, versatility and functionality of this, dare we say it, cute electric van!
What is it exactly?!
ElectricBrands bills the XBUS as “the first vehicle with unlimited modularity”. It reminds me of the vehicles you might get in a LEGO Duplo set – depending on how you play, you can build a car, a pick-up or even a pickup truck to transport little LEGO flowers.
XBUS outdoor photo gallery
XBUS has two chassis, standard and off-road, with nine different body styles that change the rear configuration from a camper, to a pickup, to a bus and more. Just like the LEGO car, the XBUS is interchangeable. Users can customize it according to their needs and change the modules without any special tools. Depending on the size of the module, an ElectricBrands partner can help with the change if needed. It is a truly unique idea that has application in both residential and commercial settings.
Batteries & Electricity
All XBUS models are equipped with a 10kWh battery pack with a capacity of up to 30kWh or 24 1.25kWh batteries. The modular design of the XBUS contributes to its battery concept, so you don’t need a quick charging station, but can simply swap out the batteries.
If it does need to be charged, charging at a 230-volt socket takes around three to six hours, depending on the battery. You can also charge the XBUS at a wall box and public charging stations, reducing the charging time.
ElectricBrands believes in innovation and doing things differently and it shows in all aspects of the XBUS, including batteries. Drivers can rent the battery modules from both ElectricBrands partners and one of their battery swapping stations for a variable period of time. So if you don’t want to invest in all 24 batteries but want to make a long journey, you can rent everything you need to get you there!
The range of the XBUS depends on how many batteries you use. With the basic battery option, the range is limited to about 200 kilometers or about 124 miles. With additional batteries, the range is about 600 kilometers or 372 miles.
XBUS solar roofElectrical Brands
Remember that solar roof I mentioned earlier on the Fisker Ocean? Turns out ElectricBrands had the same idea. The solar roof is standard on every module of the XBUS and its size and performance depends on the size of the roof area.
ElectricBrands has not yet released definitive performance data for this innovative solar panel, but its target is a charging power of around 600W, which will increase the range of the vehicle. According to ElectricBrands, solar self-charging should eliminate the need for external charging for most mobility requirements.
ElectricBrands bills the XBUS as more than 95% recyclable. The exterior is made of natural fibers, composite materials, aluminum, steel, wood and recyclable plastics.
At first glance, the design of the XBUS is…odd. Different. Definitely European. It’s a modular vehicle that looks, well, modular. I keep my LEGO comparison. But it has clean, modern lines and comes in some fun colors, including yellow, orange, light blue, teal, and black. It features round headlights and a bulky bumper and wheel arches. All in all, no matter where you drive this unique vehicle, you will surely turn heads!
The interior of the XBUS obviously depends on which module the buyer chooses. Depending on the module, the XBUS has two to four seats with safety belts. Unfortunately, due to homologation guidelines, only three seats can be occupied. The company is working to get approval for all four seats.
XBUS Interior Photo Gallery
Air conditioning is an option, which like the exterior is almost stereotypically European (if this car was made in the US, there’s no chance air conditioning wouldn’t be standard!). Standard equipment includes an infotainment system with a 10.2-inch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, and keyless entry.
Additional options include a rear view camera (which we think should be standard on a vehicle of this size), parking system and wood laminate floors.
If you choose the camper module, you will have a fridge, TV, stove, fresh water tank and sink! Some modules also include a sound system, and there are all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive variants.
Buyers can choose from nine modules or variants of the XBUS. All nine variants are available in a standard chassis or as an off-road chassis for an additional charge. This makes the XBUS really unique, especially when you consider that these modules are interchangeable! Maybe you need a pickup truck for work, but also want a small camper for family trips? Invest in both modules and voila! Your vehicle can do both.
So what would that cost? Beyond the price of the individual modules, it is unclear what the replacement of the different variants would cost. However, it’s probably still less than you’d pay for a standard pickup truck and small camper.
Here are a few details on each of the nine variants available, all offering a 10kWh battery with the option of up to 30kWh:
This is the basis for all further modules. The standard model includes all-wheel drive and a solar roof. It starts at around $17,000.
This module is designed for professional use and has an open loading area that makes it easy to load and unload large items. The standard model has all-wheel drive, a solar roof and a sound system. Prices start at around $18,000.
A what, you might ask? That’s right, ElectricBrands calls this module a pickup bus, and it features a driver’s cab, a small rear cabin for passengers, and an open bed like a standard pickup module. It offers the same options as the base and pickup modules and costs around $20,000.
I believe this could be one of the most popular modules on the XBUS given its versatility and price. It will offer a sleeping area for two measuring almost 7 feet by just over four feet, a kitchen with a sink, refrigerator and cooktop, and fresh water and gray water tanks.
A unique aspect of this module is the pop-top with an integrated solar panel that gives the user about 7 feet of headroom! This version of the XBUS is available with all-wheel drive and starts around $30,000.
XBUS convertibleElectrical Marks
Think of the convertible as the convertible option of the XBUS. It offers the user the option of opening the roof both in the driver’s cab and in the rear cabin. The price is around $87,000.
This is the most useful option of the XBUS and also the largest module. It has an expected cargo volume of over 6,000 liters, or about 1,585 gallons — ElectricBrands hasn’t disclosed the dimensions of this version, which costs about $23,000.
Ah, finally we come to the bus version of the XBUS! Although it’s not what most Americans think of when we say “bus,” this unique vehicle features a standard chassis with a rear cabin and trunk module. It should offer buyers enough space for their luggage and their friends. It costs about $21,000.
Starting at $24,000, the Tipper is exactly what it sounds like — similar to the pickup module, but with a tilting bed, much like a construction truck.
After all, the Transporter module is considered an all-round module. It features a standard chassis with a transporter module and a trunk module, and starts at around $20,000.
can i buy one
Did you notice this quirky bus-camper-pickup-dump-a little bit of everything? The XBUS is a unique idea and it’s hard to say whether it will catch on or not. It’s not in production yet, and ElectricBrands has only to say that it’s working on a timeline due to “the current supplier situation and associated development and production processes.”
Interested parties can configure their XBUS in advance and secure a production slot. Delivery will take place after the company has received your reservation, as soon as production actually begins. And while we’ve provided estimated prices in US dollars, ElectricBrands hasn’t announced any plans to sell the XBUS in the United States.
If this idea catches on, who knows, maybe we’ll still see this unusual, modular vehicle on our freeways. would you buy one