Automotive

Volkswagen unveils E-Bugster electric Beetle concept in Detroit

Volkswagen unveils E-Bugster e...
VW's electric E-Bugster in Detroit
VW's electric E-Bugster in Detroit
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Volkswagen's E-Bugster concept from above
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Volkswagen's E-Bugster concept from above
In motion, the E-Bugster recovers kinetic energy when the driver lifts off the accelerator
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In motion, the E-Bugster recovers kinetic energy when the driver lifts off the accelerator
From the front, the E-Bugster's LED running lights can be seen
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From the front, the E-Bugster's LED running lights can be seen
Volkswagen's E-Bugster concept from above
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Volkswagen's E-Bugster concept from above
A suggestion that a future electric Beetle may be folded into VW's blue-e-motion electric car branding?
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A suggestion that a future electric Beetle may be folded into VW's blue-e-motion electric car branding?
The E-Bugster's lower, wider form and larger wheels lend it a sportier look
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The E-Bugster's lower, wider form and larger wheels lend it a sportier look
Volkswagen E-Bugster: side view
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Volkswagen E-Bugster: side view
A suggestion that a future electric Beetle may be folded into VW's blue-e-motion electric car branding?
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A suggestion that a future electric Beetle may be folded into VW's blue-e-motion electric car branding?
Volkswagen E-Bugster's LED running lights and 20-inch alloys in evidence
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Volkswagen E-Bugster's LED running lights and 20-inch alloys in evidence
The Volkswagen E-Bugster in its natural habitat (shocking piece of parking, though)
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The Volkswagen E-Bugster in its natural habitat (shocking piece of parking, though)
Note the E-Bugster's chrome trim beneath the side windows
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Note the E-Bugster's chrome trim beneath the side windows
A suggestion that a future electric Beetle may be folded into VW's blue-e-motion electric car branding?
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A suggestion that a future electric Beetle may be folded into VW's blue-e-motion electric car branding?
Volkswagen will this week unveil its two-seater E-Bugster electric Beetle concept at the North American International Auto Show
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Volkswagen will this week unveil its two-seater E-Bugster electric Beetle concept at the North American International Auto Show
The Volkwsagen E-Bugster: E for electric, bug for Beetle, ster for ...
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The Volkwsagen E-Bugster: E for electric, bug for Beetle, ster for ...
VW's electric E-Bugster in Detroit
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VW's electric E-Bugster in Detroit
VW's electric E-Bugster at NAIAS
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VW's electric E-Bugster at NAIAS
VW's electric E-Bugster in Detroit
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VW's electric E-Bugster in Detroit
VW's electric E-Bugster at NAIAS
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VW's electric E-Bugster at NAIAS
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View gallery - 20 images

Volkswagen will this week unveil its two-seater E-Bugster concept at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. There are no prizes, I'm afraid, for deducing from the entomological etymology that this is an all-electric variant of the classic VW Beetle. Kudos, though, if you identified that the name betrays the E-Bugster's shared DNA with the Ragster, VW's 2005 concept which itself informed the conventional Beetle of today. But enough on the name, let's take a look at the specs.

Beneath those familiar, svelte curves of the exoskeleton is an 85 kW electric motor which can see the E-Bugster from 0 to 60 mph (96.5 km/h) in a fairly leisurely 10.9 seconds. More importantly, the 28.3 kWh battery is good for an impressive range, VW says, of at least 110 miles (177 km) while it claims that battery can be completely recharged in a mere 35 minutes.

The range is bolstered by a kinetic energy recover system which charges the battery whenever the driver steps off the accelerator (provided the car's in motion), and more when under braking. The process is visualized on the dash, as are battery state, remaining range, and power use.

This fast-charge capability comes courtesy of the Combined Charging System we discussed back in October, which makes possible charging from single-phase AC sources (i.e. your domestic mains), provided an industry standard for plugs and sockets can be nailed down. "Ultra-fast" charging would be possible at dedicated DC charging stations.

Note the E-Bugster's chrome trim beneath the side windows
Note the E-Bugster's chrome trim beneath the side windows

If you've taken a look at the gallery, you may have noticed that VW is shooting for a sportier, roadster look with the E-Bugster. At 4,278 mm (168.4 inches), the E-Bugster's the same length as your common or garden Beetle, but with a width of 1,838 mm (72.4 in.), it's some 30 mm (1.2 in.) broader. It's also 90 mm (3.5 in.) lower than a standard Beetle, standing at 1,400 mm (55.1 in.) high. A low gradient windscreen and flared wheel arches complete the look.

There are bells and whistles, too. Judging by the press release, VW is proud of the ignition procedure:

"Starting the E-Bugster is pure theatre: upon pressing the Start button the interior is bathed in white light, then blue light. It starts with a light pulse in the instrument cluster, from where the light emanates in a millimeter-wide strip, coursing into the doors and around the air nozzles."

The automaker has released a video that shows the system in action.

From the front, the E-Bugster's LED running lights can be seen
From the front, the E-Bugster's LED running lights can be seen

LED running lights surround the central air intake at the front of the E-Bugster, with reflectors doing the job to the rear. Twenty-inch alloy wheels are adapted from the 18-inch alloys of the Beetle. A chrome trim hugs the underside of the side windows, looping around the E-Bugster's abdomen. Inside, door handles and seatbelt guides are fashioned from aluminum.

Yet the E-Bugster remains a concept. Would-be bug hunters will just have to make do with a conventional Beetle and cross their fingers for an electric model sooner rather than later. It'll come.

View gallery - 20 images
7 comments
Max Kennedy
Neat! Love to see a car like this on the road. Would suggest instead of 1 large electric motor though put 4 smaller ones in wheel which opens space under the hood for same amount of batteries plus a small generator to extend the range.
Jon A.
No thanks, I like headroom.
Paul Barbour
Let\'s put a high performance gas or diesel in this thing instead of the elec
Hans Cabrera
it\'s horrible(in my opinion)
Gordon Meredith
If they don\'t produce this car it will be the worse mistake they ever made. Really pretty, and has a sporty look to it!
Robert Weekley
Your Boss does not care if your car is ugly - if you are to work on time! If you are always late - it does not matter how good looking it is - you won't keep the job that pays for it!
Beyond that - the days of the 100 mile range Electric Vehicles are already starting to move off the horizon and into never-never land - within 3-5 years - Electric Vehicles will likely be hitting 150 miles range or lower costs! The Mercedes Smart Electric Drive is already being prepared to market for 2013 - with a Sticker of $19,000 less than 18 months ago!
Be it Beautiful or Ugly - if the eBugster can deliver 100 mile with Air Con or Heat on - it will be a good start on being a winner!
Graham HomeMaintenance
whats with the tacky Porsche side stripes, electric is all fine until you run out of juice and it takes an hour to recharge, hydrogen fuel cell or compressed air may be smarter