"Disconcertingly quick off the line, remarkably easy to drive." – BBC Autos
This is Past-Perfect-Future innovation at its best. A total sleeper. Take your Zelectric out to car shows and be prepared to delight, amaze and blow some minds. There's just something about these venerable classics that engenders good will and inexplicable happiness.
The Zelectric rebuild transforms what were originally relatively loud, slow rides into 21st century quiet, fast vehicles. Will you miss the old putt-putt sound? Perhaps you will. For about 10 seconds.
Instant Radical Acceleration, Selectable Torque
Now the ZelectricBug delivers triple the horsepower of the stock Beetle. But with electric cars, horsepower doesn't really tell the story. Here, it's all about torque. 142 pound feet of it to be exact. While it can be driven as effortlessly as an automatic, all Zelectric models offer the exclusive 4-on-the-floor option of selectable torque - a feature not found in any production EVs today. With manual transmission rebuilt and retained, the amount of torque launching the car depends on the gear it's in.
On the track, over 100mph. But you won't be driving that fast most of the time, will you? Good to know though, that you'll fly into freeway speed effortlessly and cruise happily at 70-80+mph.
Mileage range on a Full Charge - 60, 80–180+ miles. More depending on model and options selected.
Unlike gasmobiles, EVs always get the best extended range when just driving around town. With any Zelectric, getting up to speed and cruising happily at 70-80mph is effortless. Driving at higher hIghway speeds for extended distance generally reduces range by 10-20%. All Zelectric models feature a fuel gauge where the gas gauge used to be, so it's easy to monitor energy consumption and see at a glance how many miles are available before your next charge.
To Shift ... or not to Shift?
We rebuild and use the original VW stock transmission, which allows optional shifting. The ZelectricBug can literally drive from 0-80mph in 3rd gear. No need to downshift when slowing or stopping. But with four-on-the-floor, you also have the option of driving it like any manual transmission. If you love the act of driving pure and simple, you'll love the selectable torque that's a Zelectric exclusive. Lower gear = more torque.
Variable Regenerative Braking
The Zelectric rebuild includes "regen" braking that adjusts with a simple switch hidden under the dash. When you slow down, the kinetic energy that was moving the car forward flows back into the battery pack, extending your available mileage range. The amount of regen can be set higher or lower, to your liking. With more regen activated, driving the ZelectricBug becomes a one-pedal affair.
Instead of heading to a gas station, your fueling station will now be conveniently located in your garage or carport. Just plug in at night and wake up with a full charge. It's easy, no special installation required. Use any regular 110v or 220v outlet, a "level 2" 240v charging station, or any industry standard (J1772) public charging station. The batteries fill themselves with fuel. EV driver discount rates are available through many utility companies when recharging at home during non-peak hours at night. Check with yours.
The Cost of Electric Fuel
It varies, depending on where you live. In San Diego, a full charge runs about $3 to drive 100 miles, comparable to a gasmobile that gets about 120 miles to the gallon. How sweet it is. Although we rarely use them, public charging stations are popping up everywhere. Use your smartphone on the road to find one nearby - download the free Plugshare app in the App Store to map out nearby charging stations across North America. With the exception of Tesla's proprietary stations, public chargers all use a J1772 plug. Charge up anywhere with Zelectric's built-in J1772 charge port.
Zelectrics use lithium iron phosphate, the same chemistry at work in today's Tesla models. In our newer builds we are currently using Tesla-sourced batteries, slated to last 160,000 miles or more, which equals anywhere from 12-15 years of typical daily driving. And after those 12-15 years, their range is estimated to lower slightly to still deliver 80% of the original full charge. Between now and 2030, if you want to swap up to whatever the future offers in batteries, it'll be simple. Then you'll have your original full set of lithium batteries that can be repurposed for use with a home solar installation.
Investment value: unlike today's mass-production cars, Zelectric-rebuilt classics continue to appreciate in value, with their stock appearance perfectly maintained. Any Zelectric-modified vehicle could be restored to burning fossil fuel with an original ICE, but if you want to continue driving it often, you'd probably find that unthinkable.
The Zelectric is the alternative electric vehicle. The one with personality.
Find Out if You're a Prime Candidate to go Zelectric.
- I love to make noise. The louder the better, the world should hear me coming.
- I'm not big on character; I prefer to look like everyone else.
- Come on, driving is merely for going from point A to point B, not for fun.
- I'll be perfectly ok with my next car's value taking a dive the day I buy it.
- I like global warming and seek to contribute my fair share.
- I would never drive a vintage VW. Weren't they hippie cars?
- There's a special place in my heart for big oil companies. Gas stations too. We need to support these businesses. They may be considered endangered and facing extinction before too long.
If you've answered yes to even one of these questions, congratulations. There are many cars for you to choose from, but a Zelectric is not one of them.
Are your answers no, no, no, no, no, no, no? Then you might be well-suited to pilot a Zelectric.