Chevy Volt Powered: 1974 Volkswagen Beetle EV

This is an unusual EV conversion in that it’s a 1974 Volkswagen Beetle and it has a late model Chevy Volt battery pack. It can be found here on Craigslist in West Long Branch, New Jersey. The seller is asking $15,500 for this plug bug. Thanks to Pat L. for sending in this electrifying tip!

It’s too bad that they didn’t squeeze the Chevy Volt’s 1.5L four-cylinder engine in here to make it an unlimited range vehicle like the Volt is, but it’s pretty cool anyway as just a battery-powered vehicle. It’s a New Mexico car and there is “absolutely no rust”. The seller also says that “The batteries came out of a late model chevy volt. This was an upgrade over the batteries that were installed when originally converted. Top speed observed is 70 MPH – I never felt the need to push it faster as it uses more electricity to do so. I’ve gone up to 50 miles on a charge. With the chevy volt battery it should do 80 miles.” The two-tone paint scheme is a little different, I would probably paint those fenders tan even though I’d rather have the body color be the same blue as the fenders are, says the guy who got a light blue 1974 Schwinn Varsity as a kid and still rides it.

The seller says that “All four corners of the chassis are upgraded. New shocks, and disc brake conversion all around.” A Chevy Volt battery pack weighs around 400 pounds but once you subtract the VW engine it’s like carrying around your lazy uncle in the back seat at all times so there may not be a lot of noticeable difference in handling. The front trunk/boot houses some of the electronic goodies that are needed to power this beast. This car has had “a no expense spared Electric conversion done to it. It was a showcase vehicle for a solar company. This isn’t a hack job home mechanic conversion. This was a professional conversion.”

The interior is interesting and I guess I understand the tan and blue theme, like a New Mexico landscape and blue sky or something, whatever they were going for. The back seat covers need to be stretched a bit but it’s nice to have the full seating capacity instead of having it loaded with big 12 volt batteries back there. “All of the gauges, lights, and switches work. Everything is run off of a 7″ touchscreen monitor. It includes CD, bluetooth, and battery and motor gauges.” They also say that the “car retains the original 4 speed manual transmission and clutch. It drives like a normal car. Except there is no noise, no oil leaks, no exhaust smell, no maintenance, and best of all you can charge it from a standard outlet at your home or office.”

This Beetle EV “has a very expensive top of the line motor and controller. It is a 300 kilowatt 342 max volts 1000 amps controller and motor. The chevy volt battery is putting out 194+ volts so it is operating at half of it’s limits. The controller is liquid cooled with an auxiliary pump for really hot days at high speeds.” I don’t know about the price on this one, I think that it’ll scare off a lot of casual EV buyers but those in the know probably have an idea of what the true value is and I’m guessing that it’s close to the asking price.

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Comments

  1. Redwagon

    I want it just so I can call it my “Plug-Bug”!

    Don’t know why the transmission is still in place. Removing that would improve weight – get rid of half an uncle. Somehow seeing the 7″ touchscreen monitor up front is both jarring and pretty cool. A great mish-mash of new and old.

    5
    • Dave

      You need the transmission unless you want to reengineer the rear suspension. Besides, having different gear ratios lets you take advantage of the electric motor’s torque curve. My question is how did they replace the heat source for the heater and defroster.

      8
  2. Pat L Member

    I’m really shocked that you posted this Scotty.

    8
  3. bluetec320

    Ewwww, who In the world would do this to an otherwise nice beetle? What a shame, and not to mention the horrible color combo.

    11
  4. John Hamill

    I cannot comment much about the electric set-up but I can vouch for the vehicle. The world famous VW Beetle never got better than this year and model! =JAH JCC

    4
  5. HotfootGT

    Change the tan to blue and have something totally unique at your next cruise in. I really like this one.

    2
  6. steve

    Heat source? VW Beetle? Ummm Yeah… BIG loss there….

    10
  7. Adam

    I think I would miss that sound that the beetle engine and exhaust made. You always know when one is around without needing to look.

    9
  8. ChallengerChick

    As one who will drive a stick until they pry it out of my cold, dead, hands, I absolutely despise the entire concept of EVs. Especially since the alleged green rationale behind them is near total bunk, but that’s a whole other talk show. That said, if I had the money, I’d be all over this silly thing. Something about it just speaks to me and I’m not even sure why. Maybe it’s the fact that I could have a Plug Bug and still drive a stick.

    4
  9. Richard

    I believe the torque curve of an electric motor is max at zero RPM and diminishes as the RPMs rise. To use transmission to take advantage of the torque curve, you would have to start off in 4th and gradually change ratios until you got to 1st.

    3
    • Dave

      You are correct about the torque curve, but keeping the revs as close to zero as possible is why I’d keep the transmission.

      3
  10. Kenneth Carney

    Thanks Scotty! You folks sure don’t
    disappoint! I like it a lot, but I’d have to have a license to drive this one as opposed to the Taylor-Dunn or the
    Comuta-car you’ve shown me recently.
    It would be, however, a great car for
    running errands around town and even
    better after a hurricane comes through
    and kmocks out the power here in Florida, provided you have the solar
    panels to charge it up after you use it.
    After Irma roared through, folks around
    here had the devil’s own time trying to
    find a filling station that could sell them
    the gas they needed for their cars and
    generators. You could rest assured
    knowing you’d have transportation to
    the nearest market or to the drugstore
    to pick up your meds. I saw Mike Brewer
    drive a VW bus that was electrified on
    Wheeler Dealers and I can tell you first-
    hand that EVs are torque monsters
    capable of tremendous acceleration
    and would need a regular tranny to
    control it. Thanks again for the great
    stories on EVs. I really want one and
    maybe, just maybe, I’ll get it!

    4
  11. Bo

    Why does the paint job on this beetle remind me of a pizza delivery car? This must have been an expensive conversion so why paint it such an unpleasant combo of colours?

    2
  12. Roland schoenke

    After doing some research on quality evs, $15000 is About the cost of a ground up conversion, so the price is fare.

    1
  13. Martin

    I have a friend who built and commuted in an electric ford Fiesta. He also kept the transmission and it made the driving experience indistinguishable from a gas powered car, but quieter. He could leave the transmission in fourth but acceleration was better is he used the gears.

  14. jcs

    You’re driving a car that runs out of fuel every 50 miles and then refueling time is measured in hours rather than in minutes…no thanks. I guess I’m not very green.

    2
  15. KO

    Looks like a great commuter. Without a battery under the back seat there’s even less chance of a fire!

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