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Classic VW Beetle Gets Electric Makeover

Classic VW Beetle Gets Electric Makeover

The Volkswagen Beetle is one of the most iconic car designs of the past 100 years. Created by Ferdinand Porsche in the 1930s for the Third Reich (as “the people’s car”), its simple but high-quality design endured for most of the 21st century—becoming a top-seller around the globe.

After a slow decline beginning in the 1970s, production shifted to Brazil and Mexico. More than 20 million VW Beetles were produced, before the final model rolled off the line in Mexico in 2003. This 1998 model available on eBay was produced in Mexico, nearly two decades after the Beetle was no longer sold in the United States, according to the seller. (The New Beetle, which drew inspiration from the original, was introduced in 1997.)

This 1998 Beetle is unique in a number of ways. Because it’s been a museum piece for the past 14 years, it only has 4,000 miles on the odometer. It’s practically new. Moreover, the 1998 Beetle was converted to run purely on electricity. The homebrew conversion to EV means that its top speed is only 40 miles per hour, and its eight batteries—installed new in September 2012—grant 40 miles on a single charge.

EV conversions have fallen out of favor, now that Nissan, Ford, Tesla and others are selling electric cars across the country. Factory-built electric cars are more durable, come with full warranty packages, and offer highway-capable driving with fast acceleration. Driving range on a charge can be 80 miles or more. But none of the new EVs have the rich design heritage of this 1998 electric Beetle.

If you believe that only a backyard DIY guy would want to merge 21st century battery-powered technology into a classic 20th century design, think again. Volkswagen itself has slowly and quietly been working on electric mobility—and at the 2012 Detroit auto show, it unveiled the E-Buster concept vehicle. That’s right: VW’s own electric version of the bug.

The E-Bugster is a sleeker, more modern rendition of the Beetle—using a 115-horsepower electric motor, and a 28.3-kilowatt-hour battery pack to provide 110 or more miles of driving range. Its drivetrain is similar to VW’s electric Golf. Volkswagen has 80 e-Golfs on the road in Berlin in a pilot program. The preliminary feedback from drivers is very positive.

Electric cars using what VW calls its “Blue-e-Motion electric powertrain” will go into production in cars—more likely the Golf rather than the E-Bugster—as soon as 2013. Perhaps the E-Bugster will follow soon after, potentially becoming the people’s EV for the 21st century. (In the meantime, you could drive the future by making a top bid on this 1998 Classic Beetle, converted to run on electricity rather than fossil fuel.)

For more information about fuel-efficient cars, visit eBay Green Driving.

Photo Credit: Volkswagen



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eBay Green Driving

eBay Green Driving helps drivers save money at the pump, and reduce their environmental impact. It offers user-friendly tools and resources, as well as eBay's unique green vehicle and parts inventory, in a single location, to help people determine the best ways to "green" their daily driving routines. The site covers the full range of efficient technologies: electric vehicles, hybrids, clean diesels, compressed natural gas and ethanol vehicles, as well as high-MPG gasoline vehicles. Green Driving's Fuel Type Comparison Tool was developed in cooperation with the Department of Energy's World-class content is provided by leading writers and researchers in the field of eco-friendly automotive technology.


+ add your own
9:06PM PDT on Aug 16, 2014

Thanks for sharing

9:26AM PDT on Oct 20, 2012

I like it

1:27AM PDT on Oct 16, 2012

very nice, VW beetle still one of the most recognisable classics.

11:49PM PDT on Oct 15, 2012


11:18PM PDT on Oct 15, 2012

Volkswagen Beetles are classics.

9:26PM PDT on Oct 15, 2012

Thanks for the share!

7:42PM PDT on Oct 13, 2012


8:28PM PDT on Oct 12, 2012

What the heck is the rain catcher on the back for? The EBugster is a bit weird looking with it.

11:29AM PDT on Oct 12, 2012

These have been available as plans from Mother Earth News for decades. Now if we could just convince Gould-Burgess or Union Globe to properly research Nickel-Iron Edison battery technology to take the poisonous cadmium and lithium batteries down...

7:52AM PDT on Oct 12, 2012

Cool.. I want one!

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