As we reported, the current Beetle is going away next year to make room for the next generation of vehicles from VW, mostly electric and based on the I.D. concept cars VW has announced. But thanks to some recent rumors, it looks as though the Beetle may return in electric form. The big question is, will a Beetle EV make it relevant, or will electric power make it even more of a niche vehicle?
The current Beetle family (coupe, cabriolet, and Dune) only sold 1,128 units in the month of June, all the more reason for VW to kill off the gas version. It's just too niche, but an EV version might be even more so. Electric cars are certainly on the rise, but they have yet to be mainstream like gas-electric hybrids. VW is banking on their line of I.D. vehicles for the next generation, and they're hoping that an electric version of the Beetle will be part of that success.
According to Autocar, the electric Beetle will be based on VW's new MEB electric vehicle architecture, but rather than a two-door vehicle, the plan is to make the Beetle a four-door. This should make for a very interesting look with a stretched profile and longer wheelbase. The idea is to make the Beetle truly practical for more than two people. Apparently, VW actually entertained the notion of a four-door Beetle some time ago, but it never came to fruition.
VW design boss Klaus Bischoff told Autocar, "If you look at MEB, the shortest wheelbase (possible) is the ID (hatch). If you took that and did the Beetle on it, you have plenty of room so there’s no compromise in functionality anymore. So it could be a very attractive car."
The EV would, of course, be a plug-in all-electric car with possible rapid inductive charging and possibly rear-wheel drive, which should make it very entertaining to drive. The low center of gravity endemic to EVs (due to battery location in the floor and between the wheels), combined with
The I.D. hatchback will come first, followed by a sedan (similar to the I.D. Vizzion), and an SUV (like the I.D. Crozz). The I.D. Buzz Microbus will arrive to market in 2022. THere's no mention of when the Beetle would slot in, and no final decision will be made for at least a couple of years. Rumor has it that renderings have already been made.
It will be interesting to see how this will play out. Volkswagen is making a big gamble with an entire slew of brand new electric models in their stable. Part of it is a 180-degree departure from the diesel scandal, and the remainder rests on the forecast that EVs will be the next big shift in the automotive industry. Whether or not an EV Beetle is a good idea or not remains to be seen. It comes across as more of a tie to VW's past that's been invoked to tie to the future of the brand.