What is the most hipster vehicle you could possibly own? How about an original Volkwagen from the 1950s or ‘60s modified to run on electricity? That marries the urge to return to the simpler past with modern eco-consciousness. The California company Zelectric Motors is refurbishing old Beetles, Microbuses, and other Volkswagens to run on all-electric motors.
Zelectric has found a particularly happy niche, though, tapping into an environmentally conscious thread of the latent nostalgia for old VWs. Benardo says Zelectric can currently convert and restore about 10 vehicles a year. Prices range from $68,000 for a Beetle sedan to $88,000 for a convertible, and include the price of the original car, which Zelectric will send out to a local firm to restore. "The sweet spot is between ‘58 and ’66," he says.
The hefty price is partly because of the intense work needed to safely install the electric powertrain, but also because the prices of well-maintained vintage VWs has exploded. Zelectric will even locate and convert that most quintessential of California vehicles, the Microbus — but prices for the iconic van are crazy these days, so a Zelectric starts around $130,000.