Volkswagen Beetle’s Future is Electric

The Beetle is a niche player for VW, ranking below the pricey Touareg SUV in the brand's Canadian sales stats. It's built – you guessed it – in Puebla, alongside the Golf and Jetta and, soon, the Audi Q5. Mexico was also home to original Beetle manufacturing for many years, cranking out over a million units of the beloved people’s car from 1962 right through to 2003 in its Puebla manufacturing facility.

An electric drivetrain might be the thing that ensures the Volkswagen Beetle’s future. The stylish currently model faces steadily falling U.S. sales despite a 2012 redesign intended to broaden the car’s appeal.

In April 2016, rumours of the Beetle’s demise were floated following a VW management shakeup in the wake of the diesel emissions scandal that saw VW emerge with a sharper focus for its future in which electric powertrains dominated and, presumably, novelty acts like the Beetle might not have a part to play.

But in an interview with Automobile Magazine at the Detroit auto show, VW design boss Klaus Bischoff said the Beetle might move into the brand’s EV portfolio. We think this is a great idea: for one, there are few market segments that take themselves more seriously than electric vehicles. This is neat tech, but there’s far too little whimsy in a category dominated by little city cars and crossovers. An electric Beetle would be a lovely bit of EV levity.

Secondly, the Beetle is already a niche vehicle. While Canadian sales have actually gained steam since the 2012 redesign, U.S. sales in 2016 were a third of what they were in 2013. With all the attention EVs are getting right now, a battery Beetle could only raise the styling car’s profile. And in theory, it wouldn’t be that hard to do: with an electric Golf on the way this year, VW already has a suitable powertrain. To our eyes, the biggest engineering challenge would be adapting the Beetle body to the Golf’s more modern MQB platform.

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Chris Chase

Chris Chase

As a child, Chris spent much of his time playing with toy cars in his parents’ basement; when his mother would tell him to go play outside, he made car sounds while riding his bicycle or dug roads for his toys in the flower garden. Now he gets to indulge his obsession playing with real cars that make their own cool noises, and gets paid for it.