Volkswagen's announcement on Beetle electric conversion
Do you remember the seemingly age-long Volkswagen Beetle, and the aww moment when we heard it would be discontinued? Yeah, a lot of us still do. Surprisingly, with the dawn of today’s flashy super cars, breathtaking sports cars and hatchbacks, you must have thought, just like we all did, that it was the end of an era for the iconic Volkswagen Beetle.
Well, as it turned out, Volkswagen had other tricks up their sleeves. The German automakers are defying the life-long and popular saying that “you don’t teach an old dog new tricks,’ with the comeback of the Volkswagen Beetle as an electric car. This is exciting news for the Beetle lovers.
As an overview, Volkswagen, however, is not the first automaker to follow this present trend of electric car conversion. Aston Martins announced a similar thing in 2018 when they said their classic Aston owners can convert their classic Astons to electric, and so did Jaguar, who were quick to follow a few weeks later, leveraging the technology on its EV and I-PACE.
So, it excited fans and eco-conscious people around the world when Volkswagen announced the new way for its iconic car and its vintage Beetle owners to convert their cars to battery electric power. The German automakers said they would be partnering with a German firm called eClassics, which is domiciled in Renningen, Germany, that will actually perform the retrofits, while they would provide the batteries and powertrain.
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The Beetles has lasted almost a century, could electrification be its rebirth?
Features & prices of the electric Volkswagen Beetle
While speaking on the imminent launch of the electric Beetle, Volkswagen Group component boss, Thomas Schmall, said:
“The electrified Beetle combines the charm of our classic car with the mobility of the future. Innovative e-components are under the bonnet; we work with them to electrify historically important vehicles, in what is an emotional process.”
He also went further to reveal that Volkswagen is not planning to end their cars’ electrification with the Beetle, as they are also looking into conversion kits for their buses and the Porsche 356. It has been reported that eClassics and Volkswagen will also work together on future electric takes on the legendary Camper and even the 365 sports car could begin using parts from Volkswagen’s upcoming I.D. range of electric vehicles which promises to have much longer driving distances and shorter charge time.
Out with the old, in with the new, the Beetle electric will have a short charge time
Instead of combining the electric motors and batteries to the Beetle’s existing drivetrains, as many upstart retrofits shops do, Volkswagen is providing eClassics with a new single-speed powertrain that is borrowed from their E-Up. This means that the official Volkswagen will swap out the Beetle’s internal-combustion’s air-cooled flat-four cylinder engine, and replace it with the electric motor, battery pack and single-speed gearbox.
The battery of the Beetle will have a total capacity of 36.8 kWh, which Volkswagen say should be good enough to cover about 200 kilometers (124 miles) of range. Here are specs:
Performance of electric Beetle
According to Volkswagen, the resulting retrofit Beetles will be able to have about 81 horsepower, and go from 0 to 50 mph in over 8 seconds. This is not really fast as many of us would want, but it is pretty solid for a classic Beetle. It also has a top speed of 93 mph and an estimated range of 124 miles, and also features a DC fast charging capacity, which means that it can pick up a 75% charge in about an hour from a fast charger.
Powertrain of electric Beetle
The eBeetle will also come with 155 pound-feet of torque, which is significantly more than any Beetle ever had. It will be heavier than a gas-powered Beetle, though, with a curb weight of about 2,822 pounds. The reason for this weight is due to the 36.8 kWh battery pack (a 14 lithium-ion battery modules) which is slightly less than twice as much capacity as the E-Up’s that shares its powertrain.
Also, the removal of the rear-mounted petrol engine from the car and the weight distribution of the proposed Beetle electric drivetrain will not only improve handling, but will also free up some cargo space at the back, with the car assembly hidden behind a metal panel.
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A sample of the electric motor that could drive the converted Beetles
Price of the electric Volkswagen Beetle
As exciting and tempting as this is, it is important for vintage Beetle owners to know that this conversion of the Beetle to electric might not come cheap, even though it is the obvious way to go as a number of major cities in Europe and other parts of the world are restricting or outright banning diesel engines from their downtown areas.
Unfortunately, anyone anxious or interested in having their classic Beetle converted to electric will have to go through the arduous task of travelling to Germany, and visit eClassics – the conversion partner of Volkswagen – in order to do this.
This is a 1958 classic Beetle running on Tesla electric motor
Volkswagen is yet to announce the pricing and the availability of the electric Beetle, and they are still to mention which models of the Beetle they are keen to retrofit, though they did show an already converted 1973 Super Beetle convertible, while they also promised to give more details at coming motor shows.