It boogied quickly to 30 mph in second gear. You will need a knowledge base to do so. A group of kids and their parents playing Frisbee in the street parted to let me through, pointing and staring all the while. Both battery boxes still need to be permanently secured, and I need to re-wire the tail lights, which got toasted when the previous owner had a car fire. I've got to tidy up all that wiring and find permanent locations for a couple components. The hefty price is partly because of the intense work needed to safely install the electric powertrain, but also because the prices of well-maintained vintage VWs has exploded. The garage is small and crowded with two Beetles, a Thing, and a perfectly restored Microbus. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement (updated 1/1/20) and Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement (updated 1/1/20) and Your California Privacy Rights. Prices range from $68,000 for a Beetle sedan to $88,000 for a convertible, and include the price of the original car, which Zelectric will send out to a local firm to restore. See more ideas about electric car conversion, electric cars, electric car. I only made a run through the neighborhood to test everything, but it felt great. It was followed by, "Sounds like you might have a problem. "Fun, right? The art of making a fully electric 1959 Volkswagen Beetle By Jason H. Harper; on February 16, 2016 10:53 am; … Wired may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers. In a previous life he was a creative director at an ad agency, and he still looks the part. But it’s not as crazy as it sounds; his second set of wheels is a gorgeous blue 1967 Volkswagen Beetle that he’s converted to electric power. I just found a used battery charger for a great price from someone doing a conversion in Detroit. Got any advice, suggestions or ideas for Matthew? I still need to do some fine-tuning with the pot-box and accelerator cable, but it's pretty good for a first try. Please also read our Privacy Notice and Terms of Use, which became effective December 20, 2019. Grammys 2016: Ranking last night's best performances, The net neutrality fight is now about data collection, prices for the iconic van are crazy these days, VW itself showed an EV van concept at this year’s CES, Facebook moderators break their NDAs to expose desperate working conditions, They welcomed a robot into their family, now they’re mourning its death, Facebook’s Calibra is a secret weapon for monetizing its new cryptocurrency, Google is finally taking charge of the RCS rollout, Revel’s mopeds are a fun ride around Brooklyn and Queens, YouTuber Simone Giertz transformed a Tesla Model 3 into a pickup truck, Google pledges $1 billion to ease the Silicon Valley housing crisis it helped create. So what have I done since jury-rigging a repair to my rusty floorboards? But there’s something magical about the mixture of 20th-century design and 21st-century propulsion. My electric drivetrain should easily swap into just about any Beetle if anyone out there's got one in decent shape ... For now I'm focused on getting this one rolling. "The sweet spot is between ‘58 and ’66," he says. Zelectric has found a particularly happy niche, though, tapping into an environmentally conscious thread of the latent nostalgia for old VWs. There's a long list of things to do. Few designs are as classic as the original People’s Car. But, as Benardo points out, "they’re dirty and slow." I will likely be able to find a different donor Bug in better shape for less money than the repair would cost. If it was only the floors, it wouldn't be too bad. By choosing I Accept, you consent to our use of cookies and other tracking technologies. Mar 19, 2020 - Explore will klemm's board "Electric Beetle" on Pinterest. The WIRED conversation illuminates how technology is changing every aspect of our lives—from culture to business, science to design. It was the same story on every block as I toured the neighborhood. I ran out of battery cable when I was wiring everything, so I had only 96 volts from eight 12-volt batteries instead of the 120 volts (10 batteries) I'll have when the car is finished. Follow his progress on Twitter @Wired_EV and here at We use cookies and other tracking technologies to improve your browsing experience on our site, show personalized content and targeted ads, analyze site traffic, and understand where our audiences come from. But life is full of surprises — and disappointments. Benardo is clearly getting a kick out of my own enjoyment. Sorting out what you need to know about auto repairs can be confusing. But when the light goes green, the guy stomps on the gas and the tiny city car scoots forward with a faint squeal of the front tires. The breakthroughs and innovations that we uncover lead to new ways of thinking, new connections, and new industries. At long last: For weeks I've been telling everyone I'll test drive it this weekend, only to be sidelined by one problem or another. I'll use it as a heatsink and mounting plate for my motor controller. I also need to mount and wire my gauges. - DIY Electric Car Forums More. I’ve seen some conversions which are an ugly and unsettling snarl of wires, but Zelectric clearly sweats the details. Who knew that the future would arrive in a 57-year-old Bug? I spent the better part of an hour touring the neighborhood and showing off to my neighbors. I was starting to get discouraged when Mark Clifford, who is building that electric Porsche 911 I told you about, came by the […]. My passenger is Zelectric’s CEO, David Benardo, who specializes in retrofitting VWs from the late 1950s and 1960s. You’re sitting at the extreme front of the vehicle, with very little protection between you and any potential oncoming object, a fact which is a bit disconcerting when paired with brakes that feel a bit too vintage for my taste. I also need to find a permanent solution to my rusty floorboards. These lithium-ion batteries cumulatively deliver energy of up to 36.8 kWh. The test drive renewed the sense of excitement I had when I started this project back in October. Safety is always a potential issue, considering the cars use high-voltage systems that can be fatal when installed or handled incorrectly. There’s something enjoyable about using the Beetle’s original manual, a feature you’ll never find in a modern EV. Be sure to check out all Matt’s previous posts here. Our dirt-cheap homemade electric Volkswagen runs! I was starting to get discouraged when Mark Clifford, who is building that electric Porsche 911 I told you about, came by the house to check my progress. He’s raced at Le Mans, crushed a car in a 50-ton tank, and now, he’s bringing his unique style to The Verge. WIRED is where tomorrow is realized. You got it running!" Photos and video: Matthew Redd/ That led to several minutes of explanation as everyone looked things over. I didn't push it any harder than that, but the car felt like it had more to give. Oddly, you don’t need to depress the clutch when you stop, only when actually shifting. But it's not done. Benardo says Zelectric can currently convert and restore about 10 vehicles a year. As we roll around San Diego in the bright California sunshine, every window thrown open and clean ocean air blowing in, it’s easy to fantasize what your life might be like if you lived here and drove this. It should be shipped this weekend. "I wanted a VW that was quick, fun, and wouldn’t leave you stranded on the side of the road. The engine isn't running." It runs! It can move from a dead stop in second or third gear, and you can leave it in third gear to speeds up to about 50. Any notion of a beatnik-cum-patchouli operation were happily dispelled when I met the congenial Benardo, attired in bright red Nikes. VW itself showed an EV van concept at this year’s CES that was sort of a less-cool Microbus, but you can’t beat the charm of the original. I'm certainly more interested in function than form, but the rusty floor is more than a cosmetic problem. I would probably request a brake and seat belt upgrade if I were to buy a Zelectric Microbus myself. Don't become. I trigger the 1959 model’s accelerator and the car zips forward, utterly silent, outpacing the hare in a hot second.