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Duck, Beetle & Co: How classic cars are converted to electric drives

The charging connection of the e-Beetle is well hidden behind the right rear light.

The charging connection of the e-Beetle is well hidden behind the right rear light.

Volkswagen AG

The trend towards e-mobility has long since reached the classic car scene. For a number of years now, small companies have been offering conversion to the supposedly more environmentally friendly electric drive for a large number of models. This is to ensure that the four-wheeled cultural assets can continue to be on our roads in the coming decades.

The manufacturers of the originals want to get involved in the market of electric restomods themselves. Jaguar, for example, had already announced in 2018 that it would offer electric E-types from the end of 2020. However, the project was declared prematurely terminated a year later without giving any reason. For example, VW has initiated the electrification of Beetle convertibles and brought them into small series.

Whether this drastic step is really necessary remains to be seen. Most of the classics have long since driven in the CO2 generated during their production and therefore often have a better CO2 footprint than some new cars. In addition, they are rarely used as everyday cars. In most cases, vintage cars are pure weekend cars and often only cover a few hundred kilometers each year. Their share in air pollution and the CO2 emissions of all cars is therefore likely to be negligibly small.

Unfortunately, cars like the Porsche 911 or Citroën 2CV also lose one of their characteristic features with their engine sound. Nevertheless, classic cars with electric motors definitely have their own charm. You are not only quieter and significantly smoother on the road, but in most cases also more powerful and reliable. NewsABC.net is showing three electrically powered classics with their very own character.

E-Beetle with a blessing from Wolfsburg

While most of the electric classics are the initiative of small companies, the e-Beetle is being converted on behalf of VW. The electrically powered crawling animal even celebrated its premiere at the 2019 IAA and was initiated by the VW Group Components department. However, the Swabian company e-classics is responsible for upgrading the platform and distributing it.

Instead of the air-cooled boxer engine, the drive of the current VW e-up hums in the rear of the 1.3-ton convertible. The single-stage transmission is also taken over by the microcar. Like the basic ID.3, the latest version of the E-Beetle has a lithium-ion battery with a net capacity of 45 kWh. A range of up to 350 kilometers should be possible.

The 83 electric horsepower are sufficient for a top speed of 150 km / h. Since the original chassis and the weak drum brakes would be overwhelmed with the performance and the high weight, E-Classics equips the floor assembly with a modern chassis and disc brakes all around. From the outside, the e-Beetle differs from its air-cooled ancestor mainly in the thicker sills and the LED headlights.

If the customer brings an original and well-preserved body, at least 74,900 euros are due for the conversion. You can also deliver a complete VW 1202/1203, which is then reversibly converted by e-classics. If you want an electrified and restored E-Beetle immediately, you have to transfer at least 154,900 euros to the Swabians. A lot of money for an 83 hp “Volkswagen”. Incidentally, the cooperation between VW and e-classics also resulted in an electric Bulli.

Above all, the thicker side skirts reveal the electric version from the outside.

Above all, the thicker side skirts reveal the electric version from the outside.

Volkswagen AG

The duck hums instead of chattering

France’s cult car par excellence, the Citroën 2CV, can now be professionally converted into an electric car. The restoration company “2CV Garage”, based in the Netherlands and specializing in two-cylinder Citroën, offers the conversion in several stages. These are priced between 21,000 euros and 30,000 euros. The basic vehicle costs around 10,000 euros in good condition. In the cheapest version of the 2CVE, the company relies on a 17 kWh battery, which is easily used and originally comes from an electric smart. In the almost silent electric duck, it takes the place of the petrol tank, which is accompanied by an increase in weight of 120 kilos.

The engine also looks back on a previous life and already performed its service in a Nissan Leaf. The more than 100 hp engine was of course significantly throttled for use in the feather-light 2CV, which is not known for its high level of safety. The original two-cylinder had a maximum of 28 hp. Nevertheless, the electric motor should enable a top speed of 130 km / h and modern acceleration values.

The basic version should travel 120 kilometers with one filling. For the longer-range versions, 2CV Garage has developed its own floor assembly with integrated lithium-ion batteries, which increases the curb weight by 200 kilos. Depending on your requirements, these have a capacity of 27, 32 or 37 kWh and benefit from battery cells fresh from the factory. A range of up to 250 kilometers should be possible. The versions with the new chassis also have a quick charge function.

Stylish electric pagoda from Wales

Not only popular classics are equipped with a locally emission-free electric drive. The Welsh Mercedes specialist Hemmels, for example, started developing its E-Pagoda around three years ago. The first twelve cars are to be completed and delivered this year. The restoration company emphasizes that every little screw is touched during the renovation. So it’s no wonder that around 4,000 hours of work go into each copy. Except for the missing tailpipes and the model designation on the rear, there is no external difference to the original. Inside, Hemmels can retrofit modern amenities such as seat heating on request, but the classic interior design is not affected.

The electric version also remains close to the original in terms of performance. The top engine of the W113 series was a 2.8-liter in-line six-cylinder that delivered 170 hp and 240 Newton meters to the rear wheels from 1968 onwards. The modern electric drive is somewhat weaker with its 163 horsepower. In order to simulate the most authentic response possible, the torque of the actually much more powerful electric unit was throttled to 240 Newton meters.

A range of 257 to 323 kilometers is stated on the data sheet. However, the manufacturer has not disclosed how high the usable capacity of the lithium-ion batteries is. The manufacturer is also still silent about the performance. The Welsh only emphasize that they will surpass those of the original. The convertible from the sixties achieved a top speed of 200 km / h and accelerated from a standstill to a hundred in nine seconds. Including the basic car, the price starts at the equivalent of 180,000 euros.

The Hemmels electrical conversion remains optically very close to the base car.

The Hemmels electrical conversion remains optically very close to the base car.

Jack Taylor / Getty Images

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