Who said you can't teach an old van new tricks? Volkswagen's Electronic Research Laboratory has treated a Microbus – the iconic favored mode of transportation for hippies and beach bums – to a thoroughly modern overhaul, featuring an assortment of electric do-dads and gizmos.

The engine has been replaced with a tree-huggin', whale-savin' all-electric unit powered by ten 30-volt lithium polymer batteries co-developed with Nevada-based Hybrid Technologies, giving this lovemobile a 100-mile range – good enough to chase the best waves down the coast or drive around town in pursuit of that perfect pack of Doritos. "Big deal, man, we've seen electric cars before", you mumble? This thing's actually powered by sunshine – it's got got solar surfboards on the roof to give it juice. Whoa!

Called the Chameleon, the bus is also laden with such hi-tech features as parking cameras, LED lights, keyless entry, and a really trippy digital instrument panel with touch-pads and speech-activated controls. (It's like it understands when I'm talking to it!) Double-whoa!

VW intends to use the new-old Microbus as a rolling development platform for collaboration with universities, start-ups and Silicon Valley firms to develop new applications for emerging technologies. Now that'll be spreading some good vibrations – don't forget to bring a towel!

(There's like a couple more totally mind-altering pics after the jump. Check 'em out, dude!)

[Source: Inside Line]