The Beetle EV would act as a sister model to the upcoming Microbus that was previewed as the ID Buzz Concept earlier this year
10 November 2017

Volkswagen is actively considering plans for an electric, rear-wheel-drive successor to today’s Beetle as part of a range of zero-emissions models based on its new MEB (Modular Electric Baukasten) platform, according to the German car maker’s chairman, Herbert Diess.

The proposed electric-powered Beetle, which would be a sister model to the modern-day Microbus that was presaged by the ID Buzz concept at this year’s Detroit motor show, is one of a number of proposals that are planned to be put before Volkswagen board members when they meet to vote on ways to build on the company’s initial range of electric cars.

“The next decision on electric cars will be what kind of emotional concepts we need,” says Diess.  

Explaining the term “emotional concepts”, Volkswagen’s 59-year-old chairman says it covers cars such as the Microbus and Beetle, as well as open-top models such as the Kübelwagen and Buggy.

Diess denies that a firm decision on the Beetle's successor has been made. However, he suggests that any direct successor model would be electric. “If we wanted to do a Beetle, electrically it would be much better than today’s model, much closer to history, because it could be rear-wheel drive,” he adds.

Diess says the MEB platform provides the perfect basis for emotional concepts: “We have a good chance on the electric side. You can do derivatives efficiently. We have a very flexible platform. We can do nice things: rear-wheel drive, front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive.”

The reference to rear-wheel drive stemmed from the layout planned for Volkswagen’s first fully dedicated electric-powered model, as previewed by the ID hatchback at last year’s Paris motor show. It runs a single electric motor developing 168bhp that is mounted within the rear axle assembly, providing drive to the rear wheels.

The rear-mounted electric motor and rear-wheel-drive layout of the ID hatchback mirrors that of the original Beetle in 1939, which used a rear-mounted boxer engine and was rear-wheel drive. Its adoption on a modern-day Beetle could open up a number of packaging advantages not seen on today’s front-engined/front-wheel-drive model, including a front luggage compartment similar to that of the original.

Volkswagen resurrected the Beetle in 1997 following positive reception of the retro Concept One show car at the 1994 Detroit motor show. The first-generation model was produced at Volkswagen’s plant in Puebla, Mexico, until 2010, when it was succeeded by a second-generation model that remains on sale today.

Diess confirmed to Autocar that the MEB platform is already planned to support up to 15 new electric-powered models, five of which will be sold under the Volkswagen name.

Related stories: 

Volkswagen Beetle review 

Volkswagen Golf review

Volkswagen Tiguan review

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Beetle

The Volkswagen Beetle is only the third all-new model since the original launched in 1938. It is based on the Mk6 Golf, but the base car is far better

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10 November 2017

This could be a good move for VW. At present the Beetle is a bit of an oddball in the company's range, slightly larger than a Golf it is too big to compete in the 'retro' second car market which the MINI and 500 operate in, and it fails to stand out in any other way. The packaging advantages would allow VW to reduce the size, and done properly it could perform well as an alternative to the BMW i3. The only proviso is, as ever, that VW develop it properly before they start selling it.

10 November 2017

I agree this would be a good move for VW. The current Beetle lacks the fun of the Mini or 500, this could give it the usp it really needs.

10 November 2017
The Beetle would work better if it was closer to the Polo in size and priced between the Polo and Golf. The car could also look more like a Beetle - the current car looks to me like a rejected TT proposal with a weird retro vibe and has lost the funky appeal of the original new car - although even that had the bizarre MPV style dash. Could I also suggest a new Karmann Ghia?

11 November 2017

it will then be even more of a 'niche' model than the Beetle already is! An 'emotional' move  from a few buyers with more money than long-term sense...

Throw in an open roof and it will be perfect for image-conscious Californians -although where they would store the surf-board is open to question.

In my opinion, VW are using the idea as a stalking horse: introduce the idea of new-ish tech but without the cost of a new model and its tooling, etc... If the public bites in sufficient numbers, then go for it?

Time will tell!

13 November 2017
yvesferrer wrote:

In my opinion, VW are using the idea as a stalking horse: introduce the idea of new-ish tech but without the cost of a new model and its tooling, etc... If the public bites in sufficient numbers, then go for it?

Time will tell!

But it will be a completely new (and hopefully better) model, not an electric version of the current car.

12 November 2017

Forget this stupid electric crap.  the Beetle should be going back to its roots and becoming a cheap, basic car with no unnecessary frippery, but more spacious than than the small hatchbacks with which it should be priced to compete.  A roomier car for today's equivalent to Lupo money.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left


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