2012 Volkswagen E-Bugster cabriolet concept

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The Beetle! - it is the successor to an automotive icon. The new car is considered the sportiest Beetle ever. Now Volkswagen is showing, in an Asian premiere at Auto China in Beijing, how this sportiness can also be transferred to a Beetle with pure electric drive. The Volkswagen E-Bugster was specially designed for this mission: a two-seat Beetle speedster, 85 kW in power, 0 to 100 km/h in 10.8 seconds, with zero emissions yet the sharpest of proportions.

Blue-e-Motion for a clean future

The central electric module of the Volkswagen E-Bugster has an innovative design; it weighs just 80 kg. The energy for powering the electric motor is stored in a lithium-ion battery whose modules are housed in a space-saving location behind the front seats. The battery's energy capacity of 28.3 kWh enables a range of at least 180 km in the urban world. And even in an enormous country like China, for the majority of commuters this is sufficient to drive to their workplaces and return home. Since the Volkswagen has a quick charging function, the battery can be 'refuelled' within 35 minutes at suitable charging stations. At home, the battery of the VW E-Bugster can also be charged from a conventional electric outlet. The interface for the charge cable is located behind the normal 'fuel door' near the C-pillar.

Thanks to a new Combined Charging System, the Volkswagen E-Bugster can be 'filled up' flexibly via one interface using any available charging modalities. Possible are:

* Single-phase charging with AC current * Ultra-fast DC charging at charging stations (quick charge)

This will be based on a new, uniform industry standard for the connectors of future electric vehicles that will be available to all manufacturers. And this standardisation goes beyond the plug itself: in the Combined Charging System, the charge controller and the electrical architecture must be able to handle all charging types. This will reduce costs and simplify widespread global implementation of electric mobility.

Charging the battery while braking

Just how much energy the driver of the Volkswagen E-Bugster is requesting with the 'electric pedal' at any moment is shown in a power display. Instruments also include a driving range indicator and a display showing the battery's charge state. Also new in the Beetle is an instrument that shows the driver the intensity of battery regeneration. Regeneration refers to the recovery of braking energy: as soon as the driver's foot leaves the accelerator pedal and/or brakes, kinetic energy is converted into electricity, which is stored in the battery. This increases the driving range of the VW E-Bugster. By the way, Volkswagen calls the complete electric drive unit Blue-e-Motion.

Visions become versions

Bugster? That sounds familiar. Of course: Ragster! That was in January 2005 in Detroit, where Volkswagen presented a New Beetle as a speedster with a swept-back ragtop (folding roof) - the Ragster. A design vision for the Beetle of tomorrow - wider, lower, sportier. In 2005, the slogan for the concept's feasibility was expressed as: "Everything is conceivable!" In 2012, it had advanced to: "Everything is feasible!" Because the idea of the Ragster - wider, lower, sportier - became a reality (with the exception of the ragtop) in October 2011 in the current production Beetle. So, what does the name E-Bugster actually signify? That is easy to explain: a combination of the 'E' for electric models, the American nickname for the Beetle, 'Bug' and the vehicle type 'speedster' that describes a low, open-top two-seater.

Proportions of a sports car

The Volkswagen E-Bugster is a Beetle that could hardly be made to look more dynamic. Actually, it is a sports car. It has a height of less than 1,400 mm, which is about 90 mm less than that of the hard top Beetle. And the production model already looks really powerful with its sharply sculpted proportions. The E-Bugster's width (1,838 mm) grew by 30 mm, while its length (4,278) remained the same as that of the production car. The Volkswagen E-Bugster displays unique dynamic styling from every viewing angle. Design details of the production version were supplemented by new styling elements. In its stance on the road, the concept car looks as though it were cast as a single piece. There is a very simple reason for this: in developing the production model introduced in October 2011, the Beetle design team had already considered all potential derivatives for future models on its radar screen of possibilities. And that is in part how a speedster with an E-motor evolved, the VW E-Bugster.

Bugster front and rear

In front, it is the swept-back and wide windscreen that catches the eye; its glass extends laterally to a point above the A-pillars. The Volkswagen E-Bugster, which is equipped with LED headlights, is also distinguished by the highly customized bumpers of the production Beetle: designers integrated the daytime running lights to the left and right of the central air intake as bands of LED lights in a C-shape (naturally mirrored on the right side). Ever since the e-up! concept car was presented in Europe, this form of daytime running light has been a feature on Volkswagen electric vehicle studies. These styling elements also appear in modified form as reflectors in the rear bumper, which was also redesigned. The rear windscreen of the E-Bugster proves that the rear windows of a speedster do not need to restrict visibility like the arrow slits in castle walls: it is extremely wide.

Speedster side profile

A speedster needs swept-back windows and a low roof, and the Volkswagen E-Bugster has them. First, let us survey the car's profile. The wheels beneath the flared wheel housings are 20-inch versions of the 18-inch Beetle 'Twister' wheels, equipped with 235/35 R 20 tyres. From the side sill, the viewer's gaze moves upwards over the large, smooth continuous surface of the door and the contour line above the door handle that looks as though it were carved with a knife. Just a few centimetres above this point, the Beetle becomes a speedster: designers lengthened the chrome strip of the lower window border towards the rear; it now runs (as it did on the New Beetle Cabriolet) once around the car, from A-pillar to A-pillar. The hard top of the 'Bug' extends in a low arc above this chrome line. Following the roof radius - in classic speedster style - is the upper border of the side windows. The height between the chrome lower window border and the uppermost roof line is a low 400 mm. And that is how it should be for a speedster!

Progressive interior

The combination of high-tech equipment and dynamic performance is also reflected in the interior. Sport seats and a continuous centre tunnel in body colour underscore the sportiness of the E-Bugster. The use of aluminium as the material for the door handles and belt guides, and the lightweight construction styling of the steering wheel also produce a direct connection between the exterior and interior. Starting the VW E-Bugster is a unique experience: the Start button not only activates the drive system; it also puts a light show into motion: first, the interior is immersed in a white light, then a blue light. It begins as a light pulse in the instrument cluster; from there the light emanates as a thin line of light, just one millimetre wide, coursing into the door window sills and around the air nozzles - a kind of visual awakening of the E-Bugster.