Volkswagen Wants to Convert Your Classic Beetle Into an EV

The e-Beetle is just the beginning. The Bus and Porsche may be next.

Volkswagen e-Beetle 1973 Super Beetle Electric Conversion
This is no ordinary 1973 Super Beetle. It's an e-Beetle (or e-Käfer) — a new electric conversion.
Volkswagen AG
By Alex Lauer / September 6, 2019 1:01 pm

The corpse of the final Volkswagen Beetle isn’t even cold yet, but the German carmaker is already offering new versions of the automotive icon.

No, we’re not getting a brand new Beetle (yet), but this week Volkswagen announced something almost as exciting: official electric conversions of historic models. To show a proof of concept, as Jalopnik writes, they’ve released images of a new e-Beetle (or e-Käfer in German) that’s been converted from a 1973 Super Beetle convertible. We’re talking classic ‘70s style, all-electric power. 

For this project, Volkswagen partnered with eClassics, a German outfit that converts gas-powered cars into EVs. And while a press release notes that only a “near-production version of the e-Beetle” will be shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, the companies are working together to make these conversions available to the public soon. As Thomas Schmall, Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Group Components, said, “We are also providing Beetle owners with a professional conversion solution, using production parts of the highest quality.”

That specific language — “professional conversion solution” — is a veiled reference to the other, unofficial electric conversions that have become more and more popular over the years. All the way back in 2015, we wrote about Zelectric Motors out of California, a company that was already converting classic Volkswagen or Volkswagen-adjacent vehicles like Beetles, Buses and Porsches into EVs. In recent years, automakers have been looking to get in on the action, including such storied brands as Aston Martin.

Although they’re late to the party, Volkswagen is offering something new here. As the Verge points out, “Instead of mating new electric motors and batteries to the cars’ existing drivetrains, as many upstart retrofit shops do, VW is providing eClassics with a new single-speed powertrain borrowed from the automaker’s E-Up! electric city car. The battery will have a total capacity of 36.8 kWh, which VW says should be good for around 200 kilometers (124 miles) of range.”

Those components taken from the VW e-up! (officially styled lowercase, by the way) might make their way to a converted e-Bus or e-Porsche 356 in the future, according to the press release. For now, no pricing or availability details have been announced, but expect that to change once the Frankfurt Motor Show starts on September 12.

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