Hybrids & Electrics

Volkswagen May Bring the Beetle Back as an Electric Car

While the ID Buzz, aka the electric Microbus, isn’t quite production-ready, it may not be the only iconic vehicle Volkswagen’s rebooting into an EV. 2019 saw the release of the final Volkswagen Beetle. Despite its styling and long history, consumer interest lagged, and VW discontinued it. But now, there’s rumors of a new Volkswagen Beetle—an electric one.

Potential electric Volkswagen Beetle

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This news comes courtesy of the electric Volkswagen forum VW ID Talk, Autoblog reports. Forum users discovered several VW trademark applications submitted to the EU Intellectual Property Office.

White 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf hatchback in front of a city skyline
2017 Volkswagen e-Golf | Volkswagen

These applications, The Drive reports, list several classic VW models with an ‘e- ‘prefix. Among them, ‘e-Karmann,’ ‘e-Samba,’ and ‘e-Beetle.’ Based on the current e-Golf’s nomenclature, this appears to suggest that Volkswagen is developing an electric Beetle. Incidentally, VW also submitted an application for ‘e-Golf Classic.’

2019 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
2019 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible | Volkswagen

If an electric Volkswagen Beetle is indeed in the works, it would contradict the company’s previous position. In 2019, Forbes reports, Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess stated that the company had no future electric Beetle plans.

How realistic is this?

It’s difficult to gauge if Volkswagen really is working on an electric Beetle. As Autoweek points out, many companies trademark names they don’t use. For example, Ford took the ‘Black Diamond’ trademark from Chevrolet. However, there’s no sign Ford’s working on a vehicle with that name.

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The other trademarked names, though, do suggest VW is working on additional EVs. One of those trademarks is ‘e-Kübel,’ similar to Volkswagen’s WWII Beetle-based military vehicle. This evolved into the Type 181, known in the US as the Thing. That could mean the automaker is developing an electric off-roader or crossover. Both segments are incredibly popular at the moment. Plus, it’s partially because of crossovers that Volkswagen canceled the Beetle.

An orange 1972 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia coupe parked in a forest
1972 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia | Bring a Trailer

In addition, the ‘e-Karmann’ trademark mirrors the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, a sports car built on Beetle mechanicals. There really aren’t any electric sports cars on the market right now. With the next-gen Tesla Roadster still in development, the Porsche Taycan is the closest thing.

Admittedly, an electric sports car wouldn’t necessarily sell in large numbers. However, since VW Group brands often share platforms, there’s no reason Volkswagen couldn’t make a discounted version of the Taycan.

Ultimately, though, any electric Volkswagen Beetle would have to address what led to the car’s cancellation: emotion. The problem with the outgoing Beetle was that it had the looks, but not the heart. Underneath the bodywork, it was basically a Golf. Diess understands the emotional ties people have to the Beetle, though. And he’s stated that, if VW were to pursue an e-Beetle, it would have to “do something emotional,” Autoweek reports.

Luckily, if you want an electric Volkswagen Beetle, you can get one right now.

Getting an electric Volkswagen Beetle today

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There are several companies, such as Zelectric and EV West, that convert classic cars, including the Volkswagen Beetle, into EVs. The conversion, Jalopnik reports, does add some weight. But it also significantly increases the original Beetle’s output. The end result is an admirably-quick vintage-looking electric car.

A white classic Volkswagen Beetle convertible converted to electric power
Volkswagen Beetle e-Käfer electric conversion | Volkswagen

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In fact, Volkswagen itself has gotten into the EV conversion business. The company can provide you with an electric Microbus, Karmann Ghia, and yes, a Beetle. Instead of the original gasoline four-cylinder, the e-Käfer (German for ‘beetle’) uses the 81-hp electric motor from the electric Up! city car, Autoblog reports. The estimated range is 124 miles, though the converted EV does support DC fast-charging.

Interestingly, in Volkswagen’s press statement, it refers to this converted Beetle as an ‘e-Beetle.’ And the automaker has indicated other classic VW-powered vehicles, including the Porsche 356, may be available in EV form. Perhaps the trademarks, then, are simply a sign of the expanding lineup.

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