Zelectric Motors' 1963 Volkswagen Beetle electric carEnlarge Photo
The devil is in the details
Approaching David's bright red bug, very little at all gives away its 21st-century powertrain.
The incredibly keen-eyed might note the absence of the familiar twin pea-shooter tailpipes. Inside, only the small, chrome-rimmed digital battery gauge gives it away, slotting neatly where the original square gas gauge would have sat. In fact, the only real giveaways that the '63 has anything different about it are the clever license plate and the large sticker across the rear window. The rest just looks like--and is--a beautifully-restored 1960s Beetle.
Until you open the (rear mounted, naturally) hood. Then, you're presented with the futuristic shapes of electronic controllers, cooling components, brushed aluminum and the obligatory bright orange of electrical cables.
Weirdly, it looks at a glance like a highly-updated take on the Beetle's normal engine, partly because it sits in the same longitudinal fashion connected to the same gearbox. But it's a lot more sci-fi and the presentation is first-rate.
Kudos here goes to performance electric vehicle specialists EV West, who reside next door.
While EV West is best known for successsfully tackling the Pikes Peak hill climb in their electric BMW M3 (which owner Michael Bream generously offered me a highly entertaining ride in), the company also handles the drivetrain side of the ZelectricBug. It's as professional an install as you'd expect from a company so familiar with race car engineering--and usefully, retains the option for conversion back to the original engine, should the prices of Beetles really go through the roof.