The world as we know it is preparing for a full switch to hybrid and electric vehicles only. Sure, our beloved classics will still be petrol powered, but any new car we want to buy will undoubtedly have a charging plug instead of a fuel cap. But what if we could mix the two?
That is where companies like Zelectric and Electric Classic Cars comes into play. More and more of these companies are popping up, and for good reason. They specialize in converting old school vintage rides into modern day electric machines. And while I’ve seen everything from a 911 to Ferrari 308, my absolute favorite has to be the classic Volkswagen Beetle.
Why a Beetle you may be thinking? Well, for many reasons. I have always loved the vintage ‘peoples car.’ Designed by Ferdinand Porsche, the original Beetles body lines are absolutely beautiful. The concept was simple. A car that was small, economical, and more importantly mechanically simple. While many will argue the Beetle is nothing but a 60’s hippies car, there is no denying it’s success around the world. With the best body styles falling from 1950-1969, it’s amazing to think you can still drive one of these machines some 60-years later. The only drawback, 60-horsepower on a good day. And that is exactly where the electric conversions transform these cars.
Converting a beetle to an electric cruiser is a surprisingly simple job. Thanks to the Beetles already mechanically ‘bare’ design, it only takes a handful of modifications to fit the new system in place. The electric motor resides in the engine bay, right where the flat-four would normally be. Both Zelectric and Electric Classic Cars offer a conversion that utilizes the stock transmission, keeping the feel of driving that we know and love. Because of the Beetles limited size, the battery packs had to be split between the engine bay and the bay under the hood. Surprisingly, the electric beetle conversion requires no welding or sheet metal work to install.
So what makes an electric beetle so fun? Well, a stock air cooled beetle is only churning out a crisp 40-60hp depending on displacement. The EV setup, on the other hand, gives the Beetle 100hp and a smashing 120lb-ft of torque for good measure. On top of that, the electric Beetle gets an average range of 100-miles, making it more than practical for daily use. Even more, these setups are well thought out and design, featuring things like regenerative braking and different driving modes to conserve energy.
While I can appreciate what electric car manufactures, like Tesla, are doing they just don’t have the same style you can get from a classic car. Driving a vintage Beetle is something I have always wanted, but the constant maintenance and outdated drivetrain have shied me away from that idea. But now we don’t have to worry about any of that, Just plug it in at night and forget about it. If I had to choose between the modern crop of Electric cars or a converted Beetle, I’d be driving the bug before you could say ‘ludicrous mode.’