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The employee magazine
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E-mobility

How the Beetle Became the e-Beetle

In the Battery Development department in Braunschweig, employees are investigating
how combustion vehicles can be converted into electric ones.

Visibly impressed: Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess has already taken the electrically powered e-Beetle for a spin.The picture shows him at Technical Development in Wolfsburg.

The E at the end of the registration plate gives it away: this Beetle is electric. One battery charge will last about 150 kilometers.

When the red Beetle – more than 40 years old – pulls up alongside an electric charging station, it attracts more than a few astonished stares. Especially when it's Herbert Diess who is at the wheel. The Volkswagen CEO recently drove to his meetings at the Wolfsburg plant in the electrified old timer. “At first, many people can't believe that the Beetle is electrically powered,” says Karsten Mausolf, from Battery Development at the Braunschweig plant, as he plugs a charging cable into the Beetle as if it were the most normal thing in the world.

At first glance, the E-plates may look like they have been put there by mistake, but one look inside the rear of the vehicle removes all doubt: in the place where the Beetle's combustion engine would usually be located, there is indeed an electric motor, easily recognizable by the orange connection cables. A closer look would also reveal an electric battery behind the rocker panels.

Worldwide there are only a handful of smaller companies that specialize in retrofitting combustion vehicles to make them electric. Most of the cars that are converted are old timers and younger models whose owners love them for their exclusivity and fun driving experience. Drivers of convertibles, in particular, enjoy gliding silently along country roads with the roof down.

“By electrifying our automotive icons, like the Beetle, we can recharge the topic of electric mobility emotionally from generation to generation. This will help get the MEB era off to the best start,” remarks Ludwig Fazel, who leads the strategy division 
at Volkswagen Group Components.“ Some retrofitters in the US have even electrified historic Porsche models, with a thoroughly positive response from the press,” adds Fazel.

Driving the project forward: (from left) Stefan Lieske, Ludwig Fazel, Karsten Mausolf, Otto Joos and Vanessa Stock.

That’s why a small team of experts from the Braunschweig plant is now investigating how historic vehicles can be retrofitted with technology from the Volkswagen Group. “We are currently in the process of installing an e-up! drive in the Beetle,” reveals Stefan Lieske from Battery Development. “We are combining the magnificent past of the Beetle with the latest technology from our electric vehicles,” enthuses Vanessa Stock. But that's not all. Because the battery makes the electric Beetle considerably heavier, the brakes and chassis need to be reinforced, too. Next, the Volkswagen employees want to electrify cars like the Bulli and the Kübelwagen.