In many ways, Zelectric has been the best ambassador of electric conversions. Company founders David Benardo and Bonnie Rodgers weren’t necessarily the first but they’ve been the most prolific, and inspirational.
As lifelong fans of aircooled VWs it’s no surprise that they specialise in conversions to the Beetle, Type 2 bus, Karmann Ghia, Thing/Trekker, even beach buggies – as well as early Porsches, such as the 356, 911, 912 and 914, and the Fiat 500.
The pair started to ponder the idea of EV classics in 2006 and finally launched in 2012 with the Zelectric Bug. Their conversions retain the stock transmissions, which keeps the price down. Customers can take their cars to Zelectric, with conversions starting at $56,000, or the company will source a donor vehicle and convert it to a turn-key EV from $75,000.
There’s no cutting or welding involved so the conversions are reversible, though Zelectric doesn’t know of anyone who has gone back to the old engine. The high-tech replacement consists of a maintenance-free AC motor that Zelectric say is designed to run ’24/7 for 100 years’ and lithium-iron batteries that should provide the full range (80 miles between charges) for at least 160,000 miles.