Electric VW Beetle Has 80+ Mile Range, Classic Looks



If you’ve seen one Chevy Volt or Nissan LEAF, you’ve seen them all. But if you’re driving a perfectly restored VW Beetle with an 85 hp electric motor, you are the personification of cool. The people at Zelectric Motors in San Diego created this jewel with the help of EV West. It’s a very neat and tidy conversion that looks like it came straight from the factory.

Since the electric motor has more than twice the horsepower of the original Volkswagen engine, acceleration is brisk (by VDub standards) and the top speed is somewhat north of 90 mph. Zelectric’s David Benardo says the car has a range of between 80 and 100 miles – more in the city, less on the highway. To put that in perspective, that is equal to or greater than the rated driving range of cars like the Nissan LEAF (84 miles) and the BMW i3 (81 miles).

If you have a donor car handy, Zelectric will be happy to help you convert it to electric power. They say the typical professional conversion runs between $25,000 and $30,000. For that amount of money, you get yourself a car that doesn’t look like everybody else’s EV, and will put a grin on your face while you’re driving it. An EV that’s fun to drive? What a concept!

About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I’m interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.

  • Mongo från yttre rymden

    Comfort and safety is far from todays standards though.

    • Offgridman

      From someone that drove several VW’s from the ’64-’72 year models from the mid 70’s through the late 80’s the original seats were not that uncomfortable for this 6’6″ 200 lb+ body until the springs or padding gave out, as can happen in any car.
      The solution for the last one that was driven for over six years was to set in a bucket seat from a ’76 Chevy Vega where the rails matched up perfectly, and while when set all the way back only left a few inches of space for the back seat, gave me (the driver) plenty of leg room.
      As for safety, luckily there were never any accidents in all those years excepting the one time I was forced off the road into a deep drainage ditch. And while it did snap the driveshafts and crumple up the fenders front and back, it did leave the cabin, myself and the passengers in good shape, and able to open the doors once the tow truck pulled us out.
      It is all a matter of perspective, if you want to drive a forty or fifty year old vehicle that has been converted to electric. The original VW with its light weight and more aerodynamic design is as good a choice as any, and as a classic car they are still road legal.

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