Volkswagen Previews E-Bugster in Test Drives
by: Zach McDonald – HybridCars.com
Last month, Volkswagen invited members of the automotive press to test drive its E-Bugster electric vehicle at the Laguna Seca track in Monterey, California. Since the concept reportedly cost $2 million to build, VW didn’t give the writers free reign with the car, electronically limiting its speed to 18 mph in an attempt to give journalists a taste of the experience without subjecting the prototype to the rigors of a typical test drive. Still, the tests represented the first chance anyone has had to drive car after its unveiling in Detroit earlier this year.
The E-Bugster concept shares most of its technology with the VW eGolf, which Volkswagen deployed in test fleets last year and will release in select markets in late-2013. Cosmetically, the car previews the latest design iteration of the Beetle convertible, which is expected to debut at auto shows later this year. The E-Bugster is powered by an 85-kilowatt electric motor connected to a 28.3 kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery (slightly larger than the eGolf’s), and is capable of a peak output of 114 horsepower.
VW says range for the car stands at 110 miles, and that when the drivetrain isn’t governed to remain below 18 mph (as it was in these test drives), it can accelerate from 0-60 in about 10 seconds. Inside the vehicle, test drivers were treated to rather stunning white-on-black styling, likely indicative of the overall look and feel of the forthcoming gas-powered Beetle convertible.
Volkswagen has announced no plans to sell the E-Bugster yet, and if it does, it will likely be a limited-release offering available only in select markets like California (where short-run green vehicles are useful in helping carmakers satisfy state emissions requirements). Still, it’s always positive to see automakers experiment with different electric drivetrain models and configurations―if only as a taste of what a more electrified vehicle market might someday look like.