Green Update: VW E-Bugster Concept, A Squashed Bug?

Good gracious, we’re always stepping on the toes of Volkswagen designers, particularly those who did the 2012 Beetle, the car we love to hate. But that car may be gaining some small momentum with buyers, as some 1,530 stepped into new Beetles in December 2011.

Well, at the Detroit show, VW unveiled an all-electric concept that squashes the Bug even further. But, somehow, this one works, especially when you compare it to ugly potential competitors like the MINI Coupe. It looks like a German Schuco toy car I used to have when I was five.

It looks as though some hot-rodder had taken the Beetle to a chop shop (which some may well do). The E-Bugster has a fixed roof and an electric motor with 114 hp and 199 ft-lbs of torque—enough to move it smartly down the highway. Range is said to be about 100 miles. The press release notes:

Holistically, Volkswagen calls the electric drive unit used in the E-Bugster “Blue-e-motion,” and it will be found in future products such as the Golf Blue-e-Motion.

I don’t know what’s holistic about it, but that would be welcome news, since we have heard good things about this propulsion system, slated for the Golf in 2014.

Whether the Bugster (maybe with gasoline power?) will ever see production is another question. I suspect it would be a hit. The car has deliberate echoes of the Porsche Speedster and the 2005 Ragster concept. But it does not need 20-inch wheels.

The Combined Charging System, which gives the car a uniform, standardized interface for both AC and DC charging, is clearly a good idea and is shared with major German and U.S. carmakers. With a DC quick charge, the battery gets revived in 35 minutes.

Volkswagen is taking the electric future seriously and looks to push beyond the competition. Get some E-Bugsters cruising the streets, and demand might just take off.

Does the E-Bugster’s styling turn you on or off? Tell us why. (More photos here.)


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  1. I would buy one in a heartbeat. Especially with the blue neon if available. Make all the tron jokes you want, I like designers that think outside the box with clean design. Get these built!

  2. It definitely looks more Porsche with the lower top, although the current model is so clustrophibic I’m not sure if an American can fit into it. With 100 mile claimed range (which is doubtful) I wonder if there’s any room left inside after the batteries are installed. I doubt they can produce it at a reasonable price, but I’m in the market for an electric if they can make one at an affordable price. (Which for me, is not $35K, $30K or even $25K for a tiny electric car.)

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