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VW E-Bugster convertible concept car at 2012 Beijing motor show

Sun, 22 Apr 2012

Volkswagen, one of the biggest players in China's swelling car market, chose Beijing to unveil its latest E-Bugster - a good look at the forthcoming convertible version of the Beetle.

We saw the E-Bugster in tin-top form at the 2012 Detroit auto show; now they've gone and chopped the top fully for Beijing. It's a two-seater speedster version of the Beetle hatch, driven by an 85kW electric drive system; essentially, the powertrain of this car is what will underpin the 2013 Blue-e-motion electric Golf.

VW E-Bugster: an electric Beetle cabrio

This concept car has two purposes: to prepare us for the production Beetle convertible, coming to an American auto show in late 2012. Let's speculate it'll be at the Los Angeles show in November.

But it also showcases the VW Group's new all-electric drivetrain, one of myriad different powertrains being concocted in Wolfsburg for this fragmented global marketplace.

Part of the reason for this Beetle being a two-seater becomes apparent when you realise where the lithium-ion batteries are stored: behind the front seats. They're quite chunky to guarantee a 28.3kWh capacity - and hence a 112-mile range.

Volkswagen claims they can be fast-charged in just 35 minutes, something you might be doing a lot of if you try out the claimed 0-62mph time of 10.8 seconds too often.

It's a relatively lightweight electric package, VW claiming an 80kg weight penalty. Owners will be able to fill up at either a conventional AC plug, or a fast-charge DC charging station. VW promises it'll be a very flexible recharging system, which will cope with all the myriad plugs around the globe.

Word is the Golf E-motion this car presages could be quite expensive; VW says it won't subsidise the car, hinting it may be pricier than the Nissan Leaf. Which puts it at a cool £30k, by our estimations.

Inside the Volkswagen E-Bugster

Drivers will be presented with a couple of details you won't see in a normal VW Beetle. For starters, there's a power reserve meter, a bit like in the Rolls Phantom, showing how deep you're digging into the E-Bugster's power reserves. A separate dial congratulates  you for harnessing energy wasted during deceleration. 

It's less practical than a coupe Beetle, since it's 90mm lower, slammed to around 1400mm above the Tarmac. It's stretched wider, however, with an extra 30mm put into the width. The 4278mm length remains the same as a cooking or garden Beetle.

All the signs are that they're going to stick with this squashed and stretched aesthetic for a new Beetle derivative. CAR understands that the speedster Beetle will be introduced a little later in the car's lifecycle.

By Tim Pollard