The Volkswagen MEB platform will underpin electric cars with a wide range of body styles, but could a convertible be among them? VW teased one on Monday, releasing renderings of an electric convertible while remaining vague on production prospects.
The car depicted in the renderings is a convertible version of the Volkswagen ID.3 electric hatchback which recently went on sale in Europe, and is the sibling to the VW ID.4 crossover scheduled to begin United States deliveries later this month.
It's unclear if VW has done any actual engineering work on an ID.3 convertible, or whether it is just floating the idea. Instead of commenting on production possibilities, the automaker turned things around, asking whether an electric powertrain and convertible roof go together, and inviting the public to share their opinions with executives on social media.
The question seems rhetorical. Surely not breathing your own car's tailpipe exhaust is a good thing, right? The better question is: why have there been so few drop-top EVs?
Volkswagen ID.3 convertible rendering
The Tesla Roadster and Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Cabrio both offered open-air electric motoring in the past, but both have been discontinued. Several aftermarket companies have built Tesla Model S convertibles by hacking off the roof, however.
The BMW i8, also now discontinued, offered some all-electric plug-in hybrid operation with a top-off Roadster version. The i8 Roadster had an EPA-rated 18 miles of electric range, plus 27 mpg combined when using the turbocharged 1.5-liter 3-cylinder gasoline engine.
Nissan and Bentley have shown electric convertible concepts, but with no plans for production. Bentley has said it will go all-electric by 2030, which means future successors to the current Continental GT convertible would be electric.
There are several possible reasons for the lack of electric convertibles. Drop-top cars are heavier than their fixed-roof counterparts, which could impact range. They also need a stronger roll structure to protect occupants, and that may be difficult to package with a battery pack. Convertible sales have also been declining for years, so an electric version doesn't make much sense from a business of policy perspective—no matter how nice they might be to drive.