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VW E-Bugster concept unveiled at 2012 Detroit show

Mon, 09 Jan 2012 00:00:00 -0800

Volkswagen has designs on expanding its Beetle family - and the new 2012 VW E-Bugster gives us a few clues to what's in store.

As the name suggests, the E-Bugster is an electric Beetle, showcasing Wolfsburg's new e-powertrain coming to the Golf and other family members sooner than you might think. The Golf Blue-e-motion goes on sale in 2013.

But take note of the two-seat speedster bodystyle too - CAR understands this derivative is likely to be offered from the Beetle's mid-life facelift.

VW E-Bugster concept car: the electric Beetle

This is a pure electric car, so it's out with the familiar group petrol and diesel engines, and in with an 85kW electric motor driving the front wheels. The company claims it is an unusually lightweight motor weighing 80kg, or about the same as an adult male passenger.

The lithium-ion batteries are housed behind the front seats; like the Mini E, the E-Bugster is a two-seater only.

Volkswagen quotes a 0-60mph time of 10.9 seconds and, with a 28.3 kWh battery capacity, a 110-mile range in urban use.

So this electric Beetle is city only?

VW says fast-charge allows a 35-minute  top-up: just flip open the flap below the normal fuel filler door, plug in and go and nosh a hamburger.

German car makers Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche and Volkswagen have teamed up to create something called the Combined Charging Systems to allow for multiple charging-up methods and the E-Bugster can be charged by single-phase AC or high-speed DC quick-charges.

Tell us more about the Bugster's stylistic import

Remember the Ragster soft-top? That was at Detroit in 2005. The Bugster is again modelled on the regular, err, new New Beetle but sits 90mm lower at a whisker under 1400mm high.

It's also 30mm wider but the same length as the production Beetle, though it rides on chunky 20in rims. There are plenty of clues that Volkswagen will indeed build this, as first revealed by CAR last year. The normally retiring Germans even say in the press blurb: 'In developing the production [Beetle] introduced in October 2011, the Beetle design team had already considered all potential derivatives for future models on its radar screen of possibilities.'

In corporate Germanspeak, that's as close to getting on-the-record confirmation as you'll find.

The E-Bugster also ushers in LED headlamps for the Beetle shape, and you'll find the same C-shaped day-running lights as on all electric Volkswagens.

In fact, lighting seems to be a central part of the E-Bugster message: the cabin has novel 1mm wide illumination strips which bathe the cabin in white, then blue lighting as you set off. Bluemotion. Geddit?

By Tim Pollard