As we all know by now, Volkswagen has developed an impressive new modular electric vehicle platform called MEB, and they’re going to be using that to underpin a really interesting variety of cars in the near future. According to Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess, one of those interesting new electric cars will not be a Beetle. I think Herbert is either lying or is a fool.
Diess told all this to our pals over at Motor Trend, who got some alone time with the CEO at the Geneva Motor Show. The conversation started by talking about the wonderful ID Buggy, a Meyers Manx-style EV dune buggy VW claims they’re actually considering producing, as well as the re-born Microbus, the ID Buzz, which VW has also committed to producing.
With two such nostalgic cars already planned for or at least being seriously considered for production, asking about a re-birth of the Beetle just seems to make sense. Here’s what Motor Trend asked:
MT: Will we ever see an electric Beetle?
HD: You can do such derivatives probably easier this way than on conventional platforms. That basically made the ID Buzz possible because with that platform you have the flat battery so you have a lot of design freedom. You can do many very emotional vehicles easier.
MT: But Beetle is not in the product plan?
HD: No. You have to do something emotional, but I think we can’t cover the historic lineup of Volkswagen with electric cars, and we shouldn’t.
What? Herbert, are you nuts? No one is saying you have to cover the entire historic lineup of Volkswagen, but a new Beetle—this time with the motor at the rear where it belongs, again—would be just too good to pass up.
If VW isn’t seriously considering this, they’re leaving money on the table. The ideal way to do it would be to make their entry-level EV a re-born Beetle, which would fit with the original VW Type I Sedan’s fundamental mission.
The Beetle still has incredible recognition and is a genuine automotive icon; what’s the value of being such a hard-ass about re-inventing some historic VWs and not others?
The whole point of this great modular platform is that it’s easier to make more and more novel designs—emotional designs, like the man said himself. Why not do a new electric Karmann Ghia or Thing? What’s the point of this self-serious “shouldn’t” business? Make cars that people have deep emotional attachments to, and sell them. It’s not rocket science, Herb.
Come on, Volkswagen. You’re not impressing anyone with how you’re not taking the “easy” route or whatever highbrow designer-talk bullshit you’re using to justify ignoring your largest piece of automotive cultural capital.
You’re going to eventually make an EV Beetle, and we all know it. So get over yourself and just admit it, already.
In the meantime, these guys will sell you a lovely old Beetle converted to electricity. See, VW, that’s money you’re not getting. Wise up.