As one of the first VW Beetle owners, my father might have been an odd entrant into the modern-day vehicle. A conservative WWII hero and vet, he made his life by keeping part of his sorrow tucked away and shut down in a corner of his mind — the war memories corner. To raise his children, he relied on a mix of conservative faith and Star Trek, and he strived to be fun. Ever the two-sided personality, his hero was Captain Kirk, and Star Trek was a dinnertime fair.
Therein lied his willingness to take on new concepts and to be “green” as he knew how to be early on. The 1960s were passing and he chose a little car to conserve fuel and found great happiness in this adventure, nearly driving on the sidewalks as he showed us how small it was. This is all even though he had five children to cart around (or perhaps because of it). The VW Beetle certainly captures part of the history of our life (including all of the journeys his children continued to take in the Beetle).
Our story was not an abnormal one. The VW Beetle is one of the most iconic vehicles in history. I believe many fans of the era and car will love to find Herbie going all-electric.
With talk of an electric Beetle in the air early last year, I was hopeful that Volkswagen would plan and build many versions of the electrical vehicle promptly — or in the next few years. Nothing yet. (Though, an electric VW van seems to be in the works.) The hope is still that the legacy of VW got beyond the company’s failings and it will try to redeem itself in the much-needed journey to zero emissions.
Greg Kable for autocar.uk sparked up the conversation again in early November 2017, explaining that indeed Volkswagen is considering plans for an electric, rear-wheel-drive successor to today’s Beetle. According to Herbert Diess, the German carmaker’s chairman, “The next decision on electric cars will be what kind of emotional concepts we need.”
What does “emotional concepts” mean? “Volkswagen’s 59-year-old chairman says it covers cars such as the Microbus and Beetle, as well as open-top models such as the Kübelwagen and Buggy. Diess denies that a firm decision on the Beetle’s successor has been made. However, he suggests that any direct successor model would be electric.”
“’If we wanted to do a Beetle, electrically it would be much better than today’s model, much closer to history because it could be rear-wheel drive,’ Diess emphasizes.
“’We have a good chance on the electric side. You can do derivatives efficiently. We have a very flexible platform. We can do nice things: rear-wheel drive, front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive.’”
It seems to me this all-electric vehicle would be the perfect companion to a family-sized Tesla, needing less range and offering one-on-one time in a cozy space.
Today, at least, you can enjoy another fascinating little EV that an electric VW Beetle brings to mind — the Fiat 500e. Here’s a test drive in the 500e, and here’s one from CleanTechnica Director Zach Shahan: