Hot on the heels of ending modern Beetle production in Mexico, Volkswagen will be offering a sentimental surprise at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show: the introduction of the a near-production-ready e-Käfer, or e-Beetle, which combines the original Type 1 Super Beetle Convertible coachwork with the second-generation electric version of VW’s clever little city car, the e-up! (which is also set to debut an updated version at the Frankfurt Show). What’s more, a a road-ready version of this restomod Bug will soon be available to the public.
The conversion is done by eClassics in Renningen, near Stuttgart, a company that specializes in electric powertrain swaps for classic according to the company’s website. The e-Käfer takes things a step further with the official sanction from VW along with help from the automaker to develop the car. Volkswagen’s press release noted, “A lot of expertise has been poured into producing the electrified Beetle. Volkswagen Group Components has made use of the considerable experience of its specialist employees and advised eClassics during the process.”
The space-efficient e-up! mounts its single-speed transmission and compact electric motor between the front (drive) wheels. Those familiar with the Type 1’s original layout might find the e-up! has more in common with the New Beetle than the old one, but the series production parts were adapted to keep the classic Beetle rear-wheel-drive. The electric motor and transmission are compact enough to turn what used to be the engine bay into a trunk, and the plug-in port is cleverly hidden under the hinged right-side taillamp, classic car-style. The rear valance loses its tailpipe cutout, naturally.
In this application, the e-up! components give the reborn Bug 81 hp and 155 lb-ft of torque. With a total weight of 2,822 pounds, the e-Beetle can reach 31 mph in less than four seconds, 50 in just over eight seconds, and achieve a top speed of 93 mph. It promises a 124-mile total range, and DC fast charging can add 93 miles of range in an hour’s charge time. The 36.8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack lives in a revised and strengthened Type 1 floorpan; note the well-disguised height of this white car’s running board/sills.
The e-Beetle will be the first of numerous historic Volkswagen Group vehicles to receive the plug-in electric future-proofing treatment. Thomas Schmall, member of the board of management of Volkswagen Group Components, said, “We are already working together to prepare the platform for the Bus. An e-Porsche 356 could also be pursued in the future.” The use of the modular electric drive matrix (MEB) – as seen underpinning the recent I.D. Buggy concept – is also being considered as a further evolution to would improve both performance and range.
The price for a fully restored and converted Beetle according to the e-Käfer website is €99,000 include German VAT, or about $109,000 as of this writing. It’s not clear if Volkswagen has any future plans to offer parts or partner a company on our side of the Atlantic.
Of course, this is far from the first time a Type 1 has been given the gas-to-electric swap treatment. And it’s the latest in an increasing number of automakers who’re mining their heritage with officially sanctioned EV projects such as Aston Martin and Jaguar.
Would you convert your air-cooled VW to electricity, or do you feel that removes its character? And if not a Volkswagen, what classic car would you like to see get the OEM EV treatment?