Reimagining Vintage VW Beetles
For the classic car purist, the topic of converting classic car engines to electric motors might seem like blasphemy. Can you convert a classic car to electric and still call it a classic? It’s a debate that’s taking place right now as car enthusiasts look for new ways to enjoy their classic rides and still be environmentally conscious.
Dave Bernado and Zelectric Motors in San Diego, California are retro-fitting classic VW Beetles with electric motors and the results are amazing. Gone is the air cooled flat 4 cylinder engine. A silent, totally electric motor replaces it, powered by a lithium battery that can run the car for up to 100 miles before needing to be recharged. This new electric Beetle has an impressive top speed of 100 mph. This is no anemic electric powered car. According to Zelectric, this is the future.
It Looks Like an Antique VW but… Is It?
The folks at Zelectric altered very little of the appearance of the antique VW Bug. It still has the same hump shape, sloped wings and throwback dashboard. So if it looks like a Bug, then it must be a Bug, right? Just wait until you open the rear engine compartment. Suddenly you are looking at an all-new, 100% electric three-phase 65KW AC motor tucked neatly where the old engine used to be. That’s when you realize you’re not in Stuttgart anymore.
Never See a Gas Station Again
All jokes aside, Zelectric has taken an old favorite and made it run faster and cleaner. This new version of the VW Beetle has twice the horsepower it originally had. The new electric battery has a life of 160,000+ miles (or 10-15 years) and is recyclable. To charge your new Beetle, just plug into any 110V or 220v outlet or charging station. Simple and easy – just like charging your cell phone. You may never have to see a gas station again.
An Electric Car with History
Zelectric takes investment worthy VW Beetles (1958-1966 models) and rebuilds them by hand. No metal is cut and nothing is welded on. The drivetrain conversion is the main component to their rebuild. Zelectric sells a ready-to-drive, off-the-lot electric VW Beetle for around $60,000 and they can retrofit your classic VW Beetle for around $45, 000. They have also converted other VW models like the Karmann Ghia, the Microbus and even the Thing. It takes about six months for the makeover, resulting in an electric car with history.
The Heart of the Matter
Car enthusiasts consider the engine to be the heart of the classic car, which is why having it taken out seems so abhorrent to many. Zelectric says that their cars are still classics and retain their value despite the transformation from gas to electric. Will conversion to electric power mean your classic is now a potential everyday ride? If so, what does that do to the investment value? Whether the classic car world is ready to embrace vintage cars that undergo such changes is still something we will have to see. Until then seeing an old friend like the VW Beetle gain a new lease on life thanks to innovative technology has to bring a smile to your face. Now if we can just figure out a way to jumpstart Woodstock all over again, we could all relive the 60’s. Groovy man!
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