VW makes headway with its E-Bugster

Aug 01, 2012 By Jim Motavalli

Volkswagen brought some reporters to Europe recently to talk about green cars, and then spent much of the trip deriding the whole concept of battery vehicles. I drove a prototype electric Golf (with 26.5 kilowatt-hours of Sanyo batteries) in California in 2010, and the car has been making slow progress. A fleet of 20 of these competent but underwhelming buggies are quietly on the road, and production will reportedly begin in 2014. But don't expect a big push-they could be "compliance vehicles" to satisfy California green car regulations. I saw the hybrid version of the Jetta in New York, and found it amazingly cautious-not likely to dent the Prius' domination of the market.

And then came the E-Bugster, quite a leap forward for VW. The company has showed off this dashing several times, first in Detroit early this year and then a few months later at the Beijing Auto Show. Things are advancing quickly, because this month VW handed the keys to some journalists at the Laguna Seca race track in California. There was no opportunity to prove that VW had built a Tesla Roadster killer-speeds were limited to just 20 mph.

But it's the concept that counts. And the E-Bugster is a killer concept with a dumb name. E-Bugster? Try to say that with a straight face. I didn't much care for the styling of the new Beetle, but the Bugster crosses it with that of the original and classic Porsche Speedster to come up with something bold and sexy, with just the right spicing of retro. The E-Bugster could park right next to the Tesla.

From the look of it, the E-Bugster has a similar drivetrain to the E-Golf, but with 28.3 kilowatt-hours of lithium instead of 26.5. With an 85-kilowatt electric motor and 114 horsepower, it's not likely to be a road burner like the Tesla Roadster, but if it sees production there are likely to be beefed-up performance versions. As shown, zero to 60 comes up in 10 seconds, and range is 110 miles.

The electric roadster is a preview of the next gas-powered Beetle convertible, though in production it will have four seats instead of the E-Bugster's two. So, again, we're seeing a primarily intended for internal-combustion being compromised in its plug-in version. Electrics probably won't come fully into their own until they're all on dedicated platforms.

Explore further: Scientists study ways to integrate biofuels and food crops on farms

Related Stories

Tesla Roadster Goes 313 Miles on a Single Charge

Nov 09, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Tesla is becoming synonymous with high performance electric cars. Indeed, the Tesla car company has been making efforts to create a brand of sports car that runs on electricity, and does so ...

Introducing the Brabus High Voltage Car

Sep 23, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Ultimate High Voltage Concept electric car has been unveiled by Brabus at the Frankfurt Motor show in Germany. The sporty little car is a new model incorporating the Brabus Smart ED (Electric ...

Tesla to unveil electric 5-seat sedan next week

Mar 19, 2009

US electric automaker Tesla Motors, which launched a breakthrough gas-free sports car last year, announced Thursday it will unveil in coming days a five-seat sedan, to roll off assembly lines by 2011.

Tesla unveils groundbreaking electric car

Mar 26, 2009

US automaker Tesla Motors unveiled Thursday its state-of-the-art five-seat sedan, billed as the world's first mass-produced, highway-capable electric car.

Recommended for you

Vehicle fuel economy down, emissions up

17 hours ago

Gas mileage of new vehicles sold in the U.S. slipped last month, according to researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

A bridge to better batteries

17 hours ago

A major automaker came to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory recently wanting to better understand battery degradation. After many months of intense collaborative research with a Berkeley Lab battery scientist, ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Aug 01, 2012
26.5 KWh and 110 mile range, assuming about 25% efficiency to produce the electricity you used 10 liters or 2.5 US gallons so about 40 mpg. Not particularly respectable.
not rated yet Aug 01, 2012
26.5 KWh and 110 mile range, assuming about 25% efficiency to produce the electricity you used 10 liters or 2.5 US gallons so about 40 mpg. Not particularly respectable.

Not sure where you're getting your numbers--most natural gas combined-cycle power plants being built today have efficiencies of 50-60%. And obviously if we are talking California, renewables change the equation even more. I think one can expect MPGe to be in the 80MPG range.
5 / 5 (2) Aug 02, 2012
but the Bugster crosses it with that of the original and classic Porsche Speedster

Which isn't surprising, since the original Bettle was designed/developed in large part by Ferdinand Porsche.

Looks good. I hope they put it on the market. If it has a decent 'Beetle-like' price I'm sold.

assuming about 25% efficiency to produce the electricity

That's one of the stupidest arguments that somehow doesn't seem to die (much like the human footprint next to the dinosaur footprint).
Why would you assume that forever and ever EVs will get their watts generated by fossil fuel power plants? The whole POINT is to change consumption AND production of energy to get away from fossil fuels.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.