Classic 1972 Westfalia will be transformed into an electric vehicle showcase.
On December 4, Autosphere attended a special ceremony at the Georgian College campus in Barrie, Ont. Students from several programs at the college are soon to begin work in transforming a 1972 Volkswagen Type 2 Westfalia camper van into an all-electric vehicle showcase.
According to Ron Sky, Engineering and Environmental Technologies Professor at Georgian College, the idea came about as an opportunity to provide students with a hands-on automotive experience that also factors in the current trend toward electrification in the auto sector.
The idea was pitched to Dr. Rebecca Sabourin, Dean of Engineering and Environmental Technologies and Skilled Trades at Georgian, and in collaboration with Jason Dale, Executive Director, Automotive Business School of Canada and the ASBC faculty, a green light was given to begin this special project. “We were looking for something from the 1970s,” explained Sky and this [1972 Volkswagen Type 2 Westfalia] fit the criteria perfectly.” The van was sourced locally in Ontario and came with a blown air-cooled flat-four engine. “This wasn’t really an issue since we were going to convert it to battery electric power,” said Sky; “the main thing was it was available, and the body was solid.”
Over the course of the winter and into the spring, students will be working on the van as an after-hours project, transforming it into a 21st-century interpretation of the legendary “Westie.” Kelly Raffan, Interior Design student, representing the interior design team on the project, said that inside, the van will get a makeover that combines 1970s chic with modern touches and technological features.
Josh Rietzel and Parker Johannesson, two students present for the photo op on December 4, said they are very excited to be working on a project like this. “This really interests me,” said Rietzel, a mechanical engineering student at Georgian. “To me, this project represents the way the automotive industry is going and to have the opportunity to experience how an EV works and be able to put it together is a very unique experience.”
Johannesson added that [the Westie] “combines future technology with a classic Volkswagen vehicle that we all love and recognize. It’s a project that is going to keep us busy for the next several months, but we’re very excited at seeing the finished result.”
Jason Dale, Executive Director for the Automotive Business School of Canada at Georgian College noted that the project “really represents collaboration, and looking at transferable skills in the future, and how we really need some of the young students that are in the engineering and technology fields to actively look at the automotive industry and say, that’s probably somewhere that I could see myself in the future.”
Funding for the project comes from the Automotive Business School of Canada, Volkswagen Canada, Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council, and Ideal Supply. Once the Westfalia EV project is completed, Georgian College plans to stage another unveiling, following which, the vehicle will be used as a promotional tool to showcase the talents of students at the college, as well as provide insight into electric vehicle technology. Additionally, the van will be an ideal conversation piece for people to learn about dynamic career opportunities in the automotive industry that are available through higher learning programs like those offered at Georgian College. Stay tuned for more details on this exciting project.