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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Genoveva M M.
Genoveva M M3 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Debra Griffin
Missy G5 years ago

I like it

natalie n.
natalie n5 years ago

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

Emily Drew
Emily Drew5 years ago


Marie W.
Marie W5 years ago

Volkswagen Beetles are classics.

Julie W.
Jules W5 years ago

Thanks for the share!

Dave C.
David C5 years ago


Mary L.
Mary L5 years ago

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

Fred Krohn
Fred Krohn5 years ago

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...

Te D.
T D5 years ago

Cool.. I want one!