When El Rey -- the final Volkswagen Type 1 Beetle to ever be made -- rolled off the Mexican production line on July 30, 2003, many Volkswagen fans around the world mourned the end of a 60-year production run.
And with over 21.5 million original Volkswagen Beetles made, the VW Bug still holds the title as the longest-running and most-manufactured automobile of a single design platform in the world.
But if you think that Volkswagen’s 2012 Beetle isn’t a patch on the original there may be hope for you in the form of a U.S. company which claims it is about to bring the classic bug back.
Only this time, instead of the distinctive rear-engine air-cooled flat-four, the replica cars will be powered by an all-electric drivetrain.
According to motorward, the iconic car is just one of several classic VW and Porsche designs to be reincarnated as fully-functioning electric cars at the hands of the iCon Electric Vehicle Group.
Called the iCon Type B (a little less catchy than the original), iCon claims it will acquire the original VW tooling from a Mexican production line -- along with tooling to recreate the Volkswagen Karman Ghia, Porsche 356 and Porsche 550 Spyder.
Or is it?
Here’s the problem though. As far as we can tell, iCon doesn’t have the tooling yet, and doesn’t even have the $1 billion it says it needs to reintroduce the Beetle and other classic cars as electric vehicles.
For the record, a mainstream automaker spends between $1-2 billion on developing a new car platform.
More unbelievable than the claim to bring the car back -- or its supposed $20,000 price tag -- is iCon’s plan to crowd source each and every dollar of the $1 billion bill.
“That’s ‘B’ as in billion, like the inaugural Type B model” a spokesperson for the company is quoted as saying. “A billion dollars is less than what was written off in the recent bailout of an American car manufacturer. If every man, woman and child contributed to rebuilding the Made in USA brand through iCon Electric Vehicles as an example, the ticket is less than the price of a latte, or $3,20 per head.””
We have to also admit that we can’t see Volkswagen give away the rights to one of its most iconic cars.
While it’s not unusual to see defunct brands resurfacing as niche products -- as is the case with the P50 we wrote about earlier this week -- the only way we could imagine any of these classics return would be if it was under license from Volkswagen or Porsche.
Quite frankly, we can’t see that happening.
A nice idea
On paper, the iCon sounds like a lovely way to head down memory lane - but compared with more capable modern equivalents it’s hard to see iCon’s business model.
Then again, we’ve got to admit for a soft-spot for the Volkswagen Beetle. And yes, it does make an excellent electric car if you’re a classic car fan wanting to green your fleet.
For now though, the only way we think you’ll end up with an electric Beetle is if you convert one yourself.