First, here’s the more interesting of the videos, primarily because it’s a ’65 Bug, and although I like the ’64 more, old bugs are my thing and the restoration job on this is spectacular to say the least.Let’s do some bullet points here:

  • 1965 VW Beetle, Immaculately restored
  • 22 kw/h battery pack under the front hood and the back.
  • 100 mile range (160 kilometers)
  • Approximately every % of battery charge is a mile, so 93% charge is 93 miles.
  • Regenerative braking.
  • Two modes: Power mode, which means all – out, and Eco Mode which means softer acceleration, more regenerative braking.
  • Original engine was a 1200 cc flat four, producing approximately 30 – 35 hp.
  • 60mph used to be about 30 seconds or some ridiculously slow number. Now with the electric engine it is 8 secs.
  • Upgraded front brakes to disk but not the rear because it has regen anyway.
  • Upgraded thicker anti roll bar front and camber compensator in the back.
  • Only 60 kilos heavier than before.
  • Weight distribution has favored the front now, so it (may be) driving like a normal front engine car.
  • Everything else is period correct.
  • No exhaust pipes, no noise, electric gauge.
  • No ECU, no airbags, no complex electronics.
  • It uses the standard regular transmission, they started in 3rd in the video, they’ll use 4th gear on the highway, and cruise up to 70mph (112 kmh).
  • The last video at the bottom quotes a conversion cost of $15,000.00. A very important thing to consider, as you can buy a really nice new sedan at that price, not including the cost of restoration.

I put the key points there in bold.

So here’s my 2nd electric bug video, which is mostly the same as above except this one’s a ’66, but is an equally excellently restored one nonetheless. There’s a lot more fast driving in this one, proving the conversion to electric improves the car’s speed and is therefore more fun on the highway among other improvements in performance.

And finally we have a final video below, featuring a conversion of a 70’s era bug. If you can look beyond the horrible music you’ll see a very proud owner of a well made conversion that’s even powered by solar cells that are attached to, and power his whole house. He’s even bringing power back to the grid, and the electric company pays him back in the summer. Amazing.

We get to see a nice pic of the engine conversion as well, showing how its using the same transmission:

electric conversion beetle

So there are a few thoughts I have about these things:

  1. None of these have a/c, an essential here. How much will that affect battery performance?
  2. Will you need to register a ‘change engine’? And to what?
  3. I can see how it makes so much sense to make a conversion on an old car. Old cars aren’t really driven that far nor that often, so the 100 mile limit is not an issue. If you do make it your daily driver that can change however, and it’s not a stretch for that to happen since making it electric essentially also makes it automatic and so using it daily makes sense.

But here’s the important thing.

Forgetting cost for a moment (like I mentioned above, it can reach up to $15k), vintage car lovers are now going to have to ask themselves some hard questions here. What is it exactly that makes them want to have a vintage VW in the first place? How much of that love involves the engine? Or is their love just limited to its look?

Because if it’s just the look, then that obviously doesn’t change by making it electric. Some even have the exhaust at the back except of course in this case nothing comes out of them.

How much does a VW lover’s love of their cars involve its sound and performance (if you can call it that)? If you say you miss the performance of a 35 horsepower flat 4 then people will call you nuts. I can understand if we’re talking about the exciting pulsating sound of a V8, or a turbo, but not a Beetle engine. The fact they are referred to as turtles doesn’t just have to do with their shape. How slow they are has a lot to do with that too.

So what’s your take on this? I’d love to know.