VW e-Beetle: The Germans Are Converting Old Beetles Into Electric Cars

Volkswagen has announced a new way for vintage Beetle owners to convert their cars to battery electric power. The automaker is partnering with a German firm called eClassics that will actually perform the retrofits, while VW will provide the batteries and powertrain.

However, VW caught me off guard when they announced their plan to convert old Beetles into EVs by retrofitting them with new electric powertrains.

VW has partnered with eClassics to convert the Classic Beetles into electric cars. The finished retrofitted electric Beetles will be shown during the International Motor Show in Frankfurt, Germany.

VW e-Beetle Specs, Price, And Launch Date

Specs for the e-Beetle are as follows:

VW e-Beetle Specs
Battery Size 36.8 kWh
Battery Range 200 km / 124 miles
Horsepower 82 PS / 80 HP
0-80 km/h time 8 seconds
Charging time 75% in 1 hour
Top Speed 150 km/h
Gross Weight 1,280 kg

As you can see the specs on the retrofitted Beetle are pretty modest. The 200 km range isn’t groundbreaking but it’d get you around town easily. Again, we’re talking about the battery range on a 1970’s car retrofitted with an electric powertrain, so have some mercy and don’t compare it with a Tesla.

VW has confirmed that they will provide all the necessary parts of the electric drivetrain, which has been developed by keeping the highest quality standards in mind.

 

According to Thomas Schmall, board member of VW components group, “We are using production parts of the highest quality in the electrification”.

“The Electrified Beetle combines the charm of our classic car with the mobility of the future,” he added.

The retrofitting work will be done by the eClassics, a company that has the expertise to modify iconic old cars like the 1964 Ford Galaxy, 1957 Ford Thunderbird, 1958 Cadillac Eldorado Coupe and many more. eClassics is‎ based in a town called Renningen, located in the district of Böblingen.

However, VW has also said that an EV specialist from their side will advise eClassics in making the old Beetle electric. If we look at some of the press release photos we can see and really appreciate the modding job done by the eClassics.

I, being a millennial, have no idea what the 70’s were all about, but I think the e-Beetle can give me at least some sense of that. I absolutely love the smooth curves of the VW Beetle and now more so because I know that it’s no longer powered by a straight-four but instead a non-offending environment-friendly machine. (I am kidding, I love electric cars.)

Now, this new electric Beetle has some noticeable visual changes like reduced ground clearance and the lack of air vent over the rear-compartment. It is due to the fact that there’s no longer an engine there.

 

By looking at some of the press release photos, you can get a good idea of how the retrofitting has been done. The electric powertrain consists of a single drive, a battery pack and an electric motor.

The new motor in the VW e-Beetle is placed over the rear axle and concealed quite nicely beneath the boot space. The badging on the motor is from Volkswagen as the powertrain unit is from the company’s very own e-Up!, an electric hatchback whose price was recently reduced ahead of Frankfurt Motor Show.

The fit and finish of the retrofitting job looks very neat and high quality, at least in the pictures, so kudos to eClassics for pulling this off. One of the really cool features of the electric Beetle is that one of its tail-lights can be lifted up to reveal a charging port. This, in my opinion, adds a lot to the aesthetic charm of the VW Beetle.

VW has also said that this type of retrofitting job can also be used on the company’s buses and even on a Porsche 365.

You must be thinking about pricing, well VW hasn’t revealed anything yet but I am willing to bet it’ll cost more than what an average EV enthusiast can afford. VW is also planning a full-on reveal of its upcoming I.D. 3 electric car at the Frankfurt Auto Show 2019.

The German company is not the first automaker to offer a way for owners of vintage cars to convert to electric. Aston Martin announced a “Heritage EV” program in 2018 where owners can convert their classic Astons to electric. Jaguar announced a similar conversion kit effort a few weeks later, which leverages the technology from its first EV, the I-Pace.

These conversions tend not to be cheap, but they’re a particularly interesting option in Europe, where a number of major cities are restricting or outright banning diesel engines from their downtown areas. VW didn’t announce pricing, availability, or mention which models its keen to retrofit, though it did show off an already-converted 1973 Super Beetle convertible, and promised more details at next week’s Frankfurt Motor Show.

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