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 to make it work better.
Tech evolved, design preserved . . . essentially the best of both.
Zelectric vs. a conversion shop - what’s the difference? Unlike basic conversion shops, a Zelectric retrofit includes the entire vehicle. Every rebuild incorporates our proprietary mix of select upgrades and modifications to ensure a dramatically improved driving experience.
Can you “zelectrify” any car?
No. Zelectric is brand exclusive. Air-cooled vintage Volkswagen models and early Porsches. Nothing else. Generally 1979 and earlier. Beetles, Buses, Karmann Ghias, and yes - even VW Things. Porsche models 356, 911, 912 and 914.
If I don’t already own it, can you find it 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. Although we can locate it for you for a flat finders fee, your actual purchase of the vehicle would be a separate transaction directly with its seller.
Do you permanently alter or change the appearance?
We never cut or weld these classics. We add significant performance upgrades to operating systems while maintaining all the original stock design esthetics. We respect their design legacy. Zelectric re-engineering is 100% reversible, though no one has ever chosen to reverse it.
What’s a typical project cost when I already own the car?
The base price for retrofitting your Beetle or Karmann Ghia with Zelectric proprietary upgrades, modifications and conversion, is $62,000 USD. Retrofit for the Microbus starts at $68,000, and Zelectric mods for Porsches start at $85,000. 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.
What’s the budget 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" vehicle you have in mind. Costs will vary widely by model, year and condition. Your basic budget should cover vehicle purchase, Zelectric retrofit, any additional options selected and all shipping required.
For example, vintage Bugs in excellent shape might start at $18,000. Rare sunroof (ragtop) models can run $8,000 - $15,000 higher than sedans, and highly desirable convertibles can even add an additional $10,000 - $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.
Do you restore cars? Technically, no. We do touch ups, cosmetic enhancements, but true restoration is a different discipline, an art in itself. We stick with what we know and do best. Other than engine condition, your vehicle should be in excellent shape prior to its Zelectric rebuild. If major restoration or cosmetic fixes are needed, best that they’re addressed beforehand.
Do you sell parts or kits for Do-It-Yourselfers?
No. More than conversions, we retrofit the entire vehicle, with over 300 meticulous hours logged into each vehicle’s conversion, transformation and upgrades. Many ingredients and proprietary steps are involved. Individual components used can vary from one build to another.
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. Just plug in at night, then start 100% juiced up in the morning–it’s as easy as charging your phone. No special installation needed.
The basic Zelectric Bug delivers around 100 miles per full charge. Less aerodynamic models (Microbus and Thing) can be less. But range can also be extended with the use of additional batteries. Porsche, Ghia, Single/Double Cab, or Microbus 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 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+ checkpoints first, to ensure that all systems are in top-flight working order prior to delivery. We use only proven components from world-class suppliers.
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 (BMW M3) at Pike's Peak Hill Climb. 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 spirited driving experience.
Ok. What's the next step?
Please review all the info on the “Order a Zelectric” page.