Prospects haven’t looked great for the VW Bug lately, but hope may be on the horizon. An EV powertrain could be the answer for the struggling icon, according to Volkswagen brand head of design Klaus Bischoff.
“There have been no decisions so far,” Bischoff told Automobile at the Detroit auto show, “but it’s possible the Bug’s future is electric.”
Reports surfaced in April of last year that the Beetle would die in 2018, rather than switch to the MQB platform as originally planned.
Short of oddball special editions like the Dune and Denim, it’s been quiet on the Volkswagen Beetle front as of late. Volkswagen has (wisely) shifted its focus toward money-making SUVs and crossovers like the Atlas and new Tiguan. The Golf remains a standout in its class, but the less practical Beetle has suffered significant sales drops every year since the most recent, more masculine-looking generation peaked in 2013 with 43,134 units sold in the U.S. Last year, VW moved just 15,667 Beetles.
Volkswagen has floated the idea of an electric Beetle in the past, showing a hybrid Beetle concept and pointing the model’s survival as an important piece of the company’s more emotional and design-driven goals. That was of course, all before the diesel emissions scandal claimed several upper-echelon executives, including Heinz-Jakob Neusser, the source of this information.
On the other hand, Neusser’s statements back in April 2015 also pointed to an electric-powered Microbus, and we’ve just seen that concept come to fruition in the form of the I.D. Buzz concept at this year’s Detroit auto show. Stranger things have happened.
Volkswagen has promised to introduce more than 30 electrified models by 2025, so it’s not unreasonable to think that one of them could be an overhauled Beetle. Whether it will take the shape of a Beetle hybrid on the MQB platform, or an all-new version based on VW’s all-electric MEB platform, remains to be seen.