This is the Volkswagen E-Bugster concept, which has been launched at the Detroit motor show. It is, in fact, two concepts in one, being both a slightly exaggerated concept version of the upcoming second generation Beetle cabriolet and the debut of the electric drivetrain destined to be used by the wider Golf family from 2013.
The E-Bugster is 90mm lower and 30mm wider than the production Beetle hatchback but retains the same length. The concept has been laid out as a strict two-seater, with the battery pack positioned behind the front seats.
The exterior styling, with a cut-down windscreen, low hard-top and shallow side windows, are all direct references to the classic southern California hot rod look.
This concept also gets bespoke bumper designs, incorporating the large C-shaped LED running lights first seen on the electric version of the Up city car. Extended wings accommodate 20-inch wheels and 235/35 tyres.
Inside, pressing the start button begins a light show that immerses the interior first in blue light, then white light, followed by pulsing lights from the instrument cluster. This then turns into a light strip just 1mm high that runs around the vents and along the door trims.
Under the skin, VW says its new electric drivetrain, which uses an 85kW motor and a 28.3kWh battery pack, can sprint to 60mph in 10.9sec and has a range of “at least 110 miles in urban conditions”. The system also gets a new electronic control module which VW says is unusually light at just 80kg.
It also uses a new ‘Combined Charging System’, which has been developed by the German car industry in conjunction with Ford and allows the battery pack to be charged by various types of electricity supply, although VW says the car industry also needs to come up with a common plug connector. In any case, an ultra-fast DC charge of the battery should take just 35 minutes.