First, some basics.
Zelectric. That’s “electric!” with your best Austrian accent, Ludwig von Drake style. We respect (and frankly adore) midcentury Austro-German automotive design. We’re not out to change anything, just make it better. Tech evolved, design preserved… essentially the best of both worlds.
We’re brand-exclusive. Air-cooled vintage Volkswagen models and early Porsches. Nothing else. We add significant performance upgrades to operating systems while maintaining all the design esthetics of original stock appearance.
We don’t sell kits. Or parts. Because Zelectric builds are always evolving. So many ingredients and steps go into every retrofit (with each project somewhat unique) that a kit would be impossible. Not including the cost of the vehicle, Zelectric retrofits start at $56,000 USD. Over 300 hours go into that.
Which years? Which models?
Air-cooled Volkswagens and Porsches exclusively, mostly pre-1979. Beetles, Buses, Ghias, and yes - even Zelectric Things. Porsche models 356, 911, 912 and 914.
If I don’t already own it, can you find the car for me? Yes. If it’s not parked in your garage yet, we can locate your ideal air-cooled Porsche or VW model. It’s our specialty. We find exceptional candidates. In fact we may already have or know of one that’s currently available.
What’s a typical project cost when I own the car?
The base price for retrofitting your Beetle or Karmann Ghia with Zelectric proprietary upgrades, modifications and conversion, is $56,000 USD. The Microbus retrofit starts at $63,000. Porsche rebuilds start at $75,000. Other than its engine, your vehicle should be in “investment-worthy” condition. Shipping is your responsibility; but we can help arrange and coordinate it. All work takes place here in our San Diego shop.
If I don’t already own the car?
For a ballpark estimate on your whole project, start with a general current market value of the "core" (excellent) vehicle you have in mind. Costs will vary widely by model, year and condition. Your basic budget must cover vehicle purchase, Zelectric retrofit, any additional options selected and all shipping required.
Although we can locate it for you, your actual purchase of the vehicle will be a separate transaction directly with its seller. For example, currently vintage Bugs in excellent shape might start at $15,000. Rare sunroof (ragtop) models can run $8,000 - $15,000 higher than sedans, and highly desirable convertibles can even add an additional $15,000+ to that.
Does Zelectric Motors ever sell complete vehicles?
Occasionally, yes. Sometimes we have inventory available and turnkey ready to go, or a pristine model standing by, available for a retrofit commission. We build to order.
Do you restore cars? Technically, no. We do touch ups, cosmetic enhancements, but restoration is an art in itself. A different discipline. We stick with what we know and do best. Other than engine condition, your vehicle should be in excellent shape prior to a Zelectric rebuild. If major restoration or cosmetic fixes are needed, best that they’re addressed beforehand.
Got a kit so I can do it myself? Or how about just parts?
Nope, we don’t sell kits. Or parts. We spend about 300+ hours on each Zelectric transformation. Our focus is on the entire vehicle, and the complete driving experience that results. Zelectric builds are constantly evolving. Individual components used in the basic drivetrain conversion sometimes change from one build to another. Depending on the model, a full Zelectric rebuild also includes select mechanical and proprietary modifications.
What's the range?
Are you planning on driving your classic car on that long road trip? Probably not! Current mileage ranges are ideal for around-town daily driving. It’s easy to just plug in at night, then start 100% juiced up in the morning.
The basic Zelectric Bug delivers around 100 miles per full charge. Not as aerodynamic, the Microbus and Thing can typically be less. But depending on the model, sometimes range can be extended with the use of additional batteries. Porsche and Ghia builds can offer greater range–from 140 to 180 miles on a charge.
Why is range currently less than Teslas or other new production EVs? In order to preserve the design legacy and value of these classics, we never cut or weld any vehicle. So although no one has ever elected to do it, Zelectric re-engineering is 100% reversible. In placing battery modules, we seek to balance weight distribution while using only the “found space” within the original stock design. As battery technology progresses, available ranges will extend, and batteries can be swapped out.
What about charging? Where to charge up, and how long does that take?
Recharge to full in as little as 3 hours after a typical 50-mile drive. Zelectrics can charge at home with the supplied portable level-1 (110v) charge cord, a level-2 (220v) charge cord or plug into any of thousands of public chargers found in parking lots everywhere. Charge overnight, like your cell phone, then start the next day with a “full tank.”
Every model retrofitted Zelectric is capable of 100+ mph. But of course Microbuses aren’t aerodynamically suited for land-speed records. Horsepower is always more than doubled, sometimes tripled. Instant, selectable torque means fast always feels faster.
All of the new electrical components have individual warranties from their respective manufacturers. The rest of the car, like every classic, is sold on an "as is" basis, but thoroughly field tested and subject to our verified 100+ checkpoint first, to ensure that all systems are in top-flight working order prior to delivery.
Fuel cost: how much to drive 100 miles?
On solar power, of course the cost = zero. Otherwise, it depends on utility rates where you live. Here in San Diego, rates are the most expensive in California. Even so, driving 100 miles costs less than $3.00 - that's like getting 116 miles on a gallon of gasoline.
What about exporting? If I'm outside the US, is that a problem?
Regulations concerning the import and registration of a vintage electric-converted vehicle vary by country. So that would be up to you to determine what’s required. We can't take responsibility for compliance, but will adapt the build to suit your requirements within the scope of our capabilities. We’ll be happy to work with your customs import specialist and coordinate delivery with the transportation services you select.
Zelectric Motors offers the finest re-configuration and electric propulsion of vintage VWs and Porsches available today. Our re-engineering design is the product of the same specialized team that built the record-holding fastest street-legal electric at Pike's Peak Hill Climb in 2012. Zelectrics have been featured at a number of Concours d'Elegance events, won various awards, and have been reviewed and celebrated internationally by worldwide media - from the Wall Street Journal and CNN to Robb Report.
We offer classics a new life: reborn electric, meticulously hand-rebuilt to order. Drivetrain conversion from fossil fuel is the hallmark of the Zelectric rebuild. But in addition, select upgrades and modifications ensure a dramatically improved driving experience. We use only proven components from world-class suppliers.
Ok. What's the next step?
Please review all the info on the “Order a Zelectric” page.