Eighty years on from the first commercial production of the iconic Volkswagen Beetle and it looks like the once popular ‘people’s car’ is going to get an eco-friendly 21st century makeover.
That’s the story buzzing around auto circles this week, with the German automaker’s CEO Herbert Diess telling Autocar that Volkswagen is considering rebuilding the Beetle as a purely electric car.
With VW reporting just months ago in Berlin that they have plans to boost their electric vehicle production with 16 new manufacturing plants by 2022, aiming to sell 3 million electric vehiclesworldwide by 2025, it’s no wonder the humble Beetle – associated with the hippy movement of the 60s – is not one to be overlooked.
Design boss Klaus Bischof apparently already has some sketches of what the new electric Beetle could look like, and one stipulation is that to appeal to a wider audience, it must be a four-door.
The automaker has said that it is keen to introduce more ‘emotional’ models, the first of which is to be the ID Buzz, an electric van in the style of the cult VW Kombi.
The new Beetle, which would be a fully electric 9C model built on Volkwagen’s modular electric MEB platform, would form part of a whole series of new electric cars to be developed over the next four years.
Before it goes into development however, VW boss Herbert Diess would have to approve the new Beetle. Diess has already expressed favour towards this, says Autocar.
The ID series will also sport a hatchback model and even though the Beetle EV will be based on that model’s design, Diess says there is no issue with having both on the market simultaneously as they would appeal to different audiences.
“It has always been the culture at VW that there’s enough room for two or even three [in the same segment],” said Diess.
In terms of build, the new electric beetle would most likely have a rear-wheel drive like the original Beetle.
Together with the automaker’s signature front-engine, front-wheel-drive modular transverse modular system (MQB), the MEB aims to increase the efficiency of electric vehicle construction and reduce production costs, making it possible to produce affordable electric cars for the mass market.
Last year, Volkswagen announced their ‘Roadmap E’ at the German international motor show IAA 2017, in which investments of 70 billion euros for the development of electric cars and battery production were provided.
The batteries are to provide energy for 80 new electrified models that VW wants to bring until then on the market. Among them are around 50 pure e-vehicles and 30 plug-in hybrids.
From 2020, the group’s electric offensive will start. “We want to sell one million electric cars a year by 2025 and become the world leader in electromobility, and our future electric cars will be the new Volkswagen brand,” Diess said.
For now, however, VW must focus on the ID concept: “Our task is to get the volume models off the ground.”
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.