Oh, I knew it. I knew Volkswagen had to be talking ex recto when they claimed they had no plans for an electric Beetle. Because why the hell wouldn’t they consider a new Beetle built on their MEB platform? It would even have the motor in the rear, just like The Universe intended. They’d be fools not to consider it, and it now looks like maybe, just maybe, they weren’t fools after all, as a member of the VWIDTalk forum found evidence that Volkswagen has reserved the European trademarks for e-Beetle as well as some other air-cooled era classics.
Along with the e-Beetle, VW has reserved e-Samba, which may be used as the official name for the reborn electric Microbus currently known as the ID Buzz, along with the e-Karmann (likely an electric small sports car, perhaps a convertible, like the original Karmann-Ghia), and, maybe the most questionably, the e-Kübel.
I expect the e-Kübel would be an electric off-roader/fun car like the VW Type 181, which we knew as the VW Thing (or Safari in some markets, Trekker in others) and which was loosely based on the Kübelwagen, the Beetle-based WWII jeep-like vehicle used by the Germans, and, as you can imagine, having a pretty hefty set of connotations I suspect VW would rather avoid.
Of course, just reserving trademarks isn’t an indicator that a company is actually planning to build cars with those trademarked names, but it’s certainly a step. VW already is affiliated with a German company that sells classic Super Beetles converted to electric power called eKäfers, which is just German for eBeetle.
I’m going to let myself be a bit hopeful here. One of the big benefits of the MEB platform is that it, not unlike VW’s original air-cooled pan, it’s relatively easy to plop new bodies onto, so why not leverage decades and decades of history and associations and iconic designs?
I’d hope that VW will stick to the Beetle’s true roots and make any future electric Beetle an entry-level car as opposed to a more expensive “lifestyle” car or whatever the hell category they put the recent Golf-based new Beetles into.
A new, cheap, rear-motored EV Beetle priced to compete with the Leaf (ideally below) seems like it would be a hit to me. If VW could manage to be the first to offer a modern, usable, and safe sub $US20,000 ($28,618) EV with the visual appeal of a Beetle-derived design, that seems like it’d be a winner.
An EV Miata-competing Karmann-Ghia would be amazing as well, and some sort of removable-doors/rugged, possibly AWD EV Thing seems like it would have its niche, too.
The difference in nomenclature with VW’s other announced EVs, the ID line, is perplexing unless maybe they’re reserving the ID branding for all-new nameplates, and the “e-” branding for modernised classics?
How deep could they dig? Could we see a delivery vehicle called the e-Fridolin? An e-Squareback wagon? An e-Hormiga truck?
Would old water-cooleds be viable, too? e-Rabbit, e-Dasher, e-Quantum, anyone? Maybe e-Corrado.
Anyway, I knew you didn’t mean what you said about no EV Beetles, VW. You can’t fool me.