Let's get this straight. A toy carmaker that's never made a real car plans to mass-produce an electric — something no automaker's successfully done — branded as a Trabant, the world-wide symbol of Communist-era crap-cars. Oh yes, this'll end well.
[gallery 5360690]Produced by the former East German automaker VEB Sachsenring without any significant changes for nearly 30 years, over 3,096,099 Trabants were produced, making it the most common vehicle in East Germany.
The main selling point was that it had room for four adults and luggage in a compact, light and durable shell. Despite the mediocre performance and horribly smoky powertrain, it was regarded by many with derisive affection as a symbol of the failed former East Germany.
In our mind, it was the perfect standard-bearer for why Communism failed so spectacularly at planning consumer goods. For example, refueling the car required lifting the hood, filling the tank with gasoline (only 6.5 gallons), then adding two-stroke oil and shaking it back and forth to mix.
Now Herpa, the unfortunately-named company responsible for many 1/8 scale car models, is interested in building a new Trabi by 2012. Better yet, they want to make it an electric car. So, let's get this straight — a company that makes toy cars and that's never made a car before is looking to make a new mass-produced Trabant — the symbol of crap cars world-wide. Better yet, they want to make it an electric car — something no automaker's successfully done. Ha. Why do we feel like we're getting punked?
So what do we know? The all-electric Trabant nT concept made it's formal debut yesterday at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Powered by a lithium ion battery, the five passenger (Gasp! What would the Politburo say to an extra passenger?!) , 13 ft long, 2,300 lb Trabant gets motivation from a 47 kW asynchronous electric motor, which powers the beast up to a heady 80 MPH. Supposedly it'll also have a 100 mile range.Of course all of this is purely the stuff of unicorns and rainbows since it's just a concept, but if you're dead set on owning a new car which bases itself on a committee-designed, two-cycle, East German machine of dubious reliability, maybe you'll get one... eventually. That is, if the mere concept doesn't devalue the entire electric car industry on it's own.
Don't get us wrong, we love the little Trabi for its pluckiness and determination — but we've always thought if a Trabant owner considers it innovation, the concept itself is as good as dead.
[historical info via wikipedia]