Volkswagen will this week unveil its two-seater E-Bugster concept at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. There are no prizes, I'm afraid, for deducing from the entomological etymology that this is an all-electric variant of the classic VW Beetle. Kudos, though, if you identified that the name betrays the E-Bugster's shared DNA with the Ragster, VW's 2005 concept which itself informed the conventional Beetle of today. But enough on the name, let's take a look at the specs.
Beneath those familiar, svelte curves of the exoskeleton is an 85 kW electric motor which can see the E-Bugster from 0 to 60 mph (96.5 km/h) in a fairly leisurely 10.9 seconds. More importantly, the 28.3 kWh battery is good for an impressive range, VW says, of at least 110 miles (177 km) while it claims that battery can be completely recharged in a mere 35 minutes.
The range is bolstered by a kinetic energy recover system which charges the battery whenever the driver steps off the accelerator (provided the car's in motion), and more when under braking. The process is visualized on the dash, as are battery state, remaining range, and power use.
This fast-charge capability comes courtesy of the Combined Charging System we discussed back in October, which makes possible charging from single-phase AC sources (i.e. your domestic mains), provided an industry standard for plugs and sockets can be nailed down. "Ultra-fast" charging would be possible at dedicated DC charging stations.
If you've taken a look at the gallery, you may have noticed that VW is shooting for a sportier, roadster look with the E-Bugster. At 4,278 mm (168.4 inches), the E-Bugster's the same length as your common or garden Beetle, but with a width of 1,838 mm (72.4 in.), it's some 30 mm (1.2 in.) broader. It's also 90 mm (3.5 in.) lower than a standard Beetle, standing at 1,400 mm (55.1 in.) high. A low gradient windscreen and flared wheel arches complete the look.
There are bells and whistles, too. Judging by the press release, VW is proud of the ignition procedure:
"Starting the E-Bugster is pure theatre: upon pressing the Start button the interior is bathed in white light, then blue light. It starts with a light pulse in the instrument cluster, from where the light emanates in a millimeter-wide strip, coursing into the doors and around the air nozzles."
The automaker has released a video that shows the system in action.
LED running lights surround the central air intake at the front of the E-Bugster, with reflectors doing the job to the rear. Twenty-inch alloy wheels are adapted from the 18-inch alloys of the Beetle. A chrome trim hugs the underside of the side windows, looping around the E-Bugster's abdomen. Inside, door handles and seatbelt guides are fashioned from aluminum.
Yet the E-Bugster remains a concept. Would-be bug hunters will just have to make do with a conventional Beetle and cross their fingers for an electric model sooner rather than later. It'll come.