World Premiere: XBUS Prototype leads the Way
Lightweight Vehicle for the Mobility of the Future
After some three years of development, the time has come: The fully functional prototype of the XBUS – previously known as eBussy – is now entering its next phase. The first series model of the new modular universal vehicle will be rolling off the production line in Itzehoe in mid-2022. The XBUS – Made in Germany with Love.
Ingolstadt – The presentation of the series-ready XBUS prototype marks the beginning of a revolution in the future class of lightweight vehicles. “The time is ripe for the XBUS,” says a confident Ralf Haller, founder of ElectricBrands AG. “Looking at the growing congestion on the roads, bigger and bigger cars cannot be the answer. We need smart, versatile, and sustainable concepts that preserve individual mobility and personal lifestyle for all of us – without exhaust emissions, but with comfort, acceptable range and suitable speed. Which is exactly where we’re going with the XBUS.” He started thinking about this kind of concept about three years ago. The ambitious goal: to develop one of the most innovative, sustainable lightweight electric vehicles in the world, a fusion of technology, usability, design – and fun. The convincing result: the XBUS, a modular universal vehicle that meets the criteria of the L7e-B2 light vehicle class. This means: electric drive, net weight under 600 kg, transport for up to 3 people, continuous power 15 kW, peak power 56 kW and a top speed of 100 km/h. The dimensions: 3.96 x 1.64 x 1.96 (off-road: 2.03) and, depending on the module, up to a 1,000 kg payload.
The Design: Appealing and Well Thought-Out
The XBUS has a friendly face, smooth surfaces and convincingly purist styling. The design was carefully developed by Yaroslav Yakovlev, an automotive designer with Russian roots who lives in Japan. After studying design in St. Petersburg and Milan, his previous positions include roles at Ferrari, Yamaha Motors, Daihatsu and, since 2020, Subaru. “What fascinated me about Ralf Haller’s idea from the beginning is that it’s basically not about a vehicle, but about an entire vehicle concept with almost endless possibilities. So I had to design the base and the modules in a way to always form a harmonious unit. And: everything had to be lightweight. Hence the door handle recesses, hence the optional small rear cameras instead of the usual mirrors. A side effect is the vehicle’s reduced front surface,” explains Yakovlev. Another key point for him was the interior design: “After all, you mostly see your car from the inside. So everything has to be fun to look at. And it has to be practical.” The XBUS is customizable not only thanks to a choice of exterior colors, but also thanks to the panels in contrasting colors or a textured look. Round LED lights at the front and rear give it character while the bumpers are clearly protruding, decoupled from the body and not painted – because design and function go hand in hand on the XBUS making it suitable for everyday use.
Two Chassis Options, Eight Modular Variants
The XBUS is a real quick-change artist for trade and commerce – but also a leisure vehicle with long-distance credentials. And it’s all in one – converted in no time. Two chassis options are available: the XBUS City and the XBUS Off-road with more ground clearance. Both options are available as a basic Freedom version or with eight different modules. The highlight here is that the modules can be exchanged in a very short period of time by yourself. The eight different options are created by cleverly combining the available modules.
The rear cabin module, allowing a second row of seats behind the first, plus a Trunk Module fuse here to create a classic bus with two side doors and a large tailgate. By folding down the second row of seats and the passenger seat backrest, this variant becomes a bit of a spatial miracle offering over three cubic meters load capacity!
Featuring the flat Center Module, which fills the space behind the driver’s cab and under the loading deck, and the tipper module, this variant is aimed at anyone needing to shift lots of material at work. The Center Module can be used as storage for tools and/or for extra battery packs.
The high CargoBox leaves plenty of room for deliveries and is likewise combined with the flat center module. An ideal companion for covering that last mile delivery. This and indeed most XBUS variants provide room for at least two Euro pallets. To kick off series production, the manufacturer will be offering various CargoBox variants. Individual CargoBox concepts can be developed and offered to fleet customers.
Shaped like the Bus and with the advantage of two side doors plus a large tailgate, this van is the ideal companion for tradespeople, for example. The smooth surfaces are perfect for company lettering. Inside, there’s plenty of room for tools and materials.
With a rear cab and pick-up flaps, the XBUS becomes a double cab with compact loading deck. This is where the flexibility comes into its own: because you can also buy the loading deck of the Pick Up! separately and combine it with an existing Bus.
If a single row of seats up front is enough for you, you can choose the Pick Up, whose loading deck is fixed and does not overhang at the rear, thus distinguishing it from the Tipper. Here, too, the Trunk Module is included behind the driver’s cab below the loading deck. This serves as an optional battery compartment.
The XBUS can also be a convertible! In the Open! variant, the front and rear roof have a cabrio function. The rear window can be removed. Sporty side rails on the Pick Up module promise adventure. All that’s missing are surfboards.
Camping modules 1 and 2 form a small campervan for two people. The pop-up roof offers full standing height. On board are refrigerator, TV, stove, freshwater tank, sink and a nice and spacious sleeping area measuring 210 x 130 cm.
Technology, Safety and Sustainability
“The XBUS and the path it has taken to enter the market with an innovative and modular lightweight electric vehicle is unique,” says future Chairman of the Supervisory Board Ulrich Walker. “Re-energizing this vehicle class with this product represents a huge opportunity for the mobility of the future. Most manufacturers want bigger, faster, further. We are thinking about tomorrow’s customer and mobility needs and are firmly convinced that sustainable, modular and affordable vehicles will become the trend.”
The all-wheel-drive XBUS relies on quality components and engineering Made in Germany. IDEENION Automobil AG, also active in development and prototype construction for other automakers, is in charge of producing the prototype in the Offroad Open! variant. The backbone of each XBUS is made of steel. “It’s important to us the XBUS is safe. That’s why we use steel, and why we use crash elements with a roll cage.”
The chassis of the XBUS is designed in such a way that absolute driving stability is maintained even with high payloads. The special challenges of a short wheelbase and rear vehicle overhang have also been taken into account. The four in-hub motors look to 48-volt technology and boast a combined maximum continuous output of 15 kW (20 hp) in line with legislation. However, the torque of over 1,000 Nm combined, plus peak power of 56 kW (76 hp) demonstrate that there is always enough power. Acceleration data are not yet available. “I’m sure customers will also have fun with this,” says Ralf Haller.
Above all else, however, his aspiration was to put a sustainable concept on wheels. And he has certainly succeeded. By working with German suppliers, using environmentally friendly production methods and short delivery routes along with cobalt-free batteries, the lightweight XBUS is climate neutral after less than 10,000 kilometers on the road. And when its end does
eventually come, 98% of its individual parts can be reused. “We achieve this by using unmixed materials and components that can generally be fully recycled. The overall concept is designed to be green from start to finish,” explains Haller.
The greatest criticism of all electric cars is range. The XBUS convinces here across the board. First and foremost is the low consumption of just 5 to 10 kWh per 100 kilometers. This means the basic version with eight battery packs (10 kWh) is able to achieve a range of 100 to 200 kilometers. That might already be enough for simple city delivery trips. Depending on the module, those opting for the XBUS with roof-integrated solar cells can also extend their range by up to 200 kilometers a day. It is also possible to charge the XBUS at virtually any public charging station or at home. At 220 volts AC, the charging time is three to five hours. With 11 kW Type 2, this charging time is significantly reduced. “But that alone is no doubt not enough for many customers,” Ralf Haller knows. “That’s why we’ve gone one major step further.” The XBUS can be equipped (even retroactively) with additional battery packs. There is room for up to 24 packs in this modular all-rounder. With this; plus the solar power from the roof, the range in urban areas increases to over 600 kilometers. And if you don’t want to lose time recharging on the road, you can swap battery packs at stops along the way. This process takes about as much time as refueling a combustion engine – and you’re ready to go.
The Promise: Made in Germany
ElectricBrands will begin manufacturing the XBUS in Itzehoe from mid-2022, initially creating up to 1,000 jobs locally as well as in the upstream supply chain and sales. Most of the suppliers – especially for key components – will come from Germany or nearby European countries.
Sales & Marketing Concept and Outlook
The starting price for the basic version of the XBUS will lie well under 20,000 euros including German VAT. Too much for a lightweight vehicle? CEO Martin Henne, who also keeps a close eye on the costing, says: “I think that the over 9,000 reservations made via our small ElectricBrands website alone and the more than 10,000 advance orders now placed via our 600 service and sales partners send a clear message: Customers are willing to pay an appropriate price for the promised quality and sustainable concept.” Supervisory Board member Tom Anliker with
of marketing and sales adds, “Our omni-channel sales strategy is as modular as the XBUS itself and with our sales partners it is well integrated in the digital ecosystem. Our task now will be to establish the XBUS concept throughout Europe and, going forward, on overseas markets as well. Setting up the battery exchange stations for the battery packs is now at the top of our agenda.”
But ElectricBrands founder Ralf Haller is already thinking ahead: “We will continue to refine the XBUS, also equipping it with airbags and listening carefully to customers’ ideas and needs. But other models are already under consideration too.” It will be an exciting, an electrifying future. The XBUS is opening the door to a new era of e-mobility. Because the time is ripe for exactly this concept and the future class of lightweight vehicles.