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VW revives the Beach Buggy – and it’s electric

Maybe this will finally get you excited about electric cars. Volkswagen is going through its history books to map out its future.
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Volkswagen has revived the iconic beach buggy, unveiling the modern 'ID. Buggy' sand-blaster on the eve of the 2019 Geneva motor show.

While it’s only a concept car for now, VW executives say it is "70 per cent" production ready and only a few years away.

The modern Beach Buggy shows how serious Volkswagen is about getting doubters across the line with its vision for an electric future.

There’s a fair chance hippies and environmentalists are already in favour of a broader choice of electric cars, but Volkswagen also needs the motoring masses to get on board.

What’s telling is the fact that Volkswagen is reviving its 1960s icons such as the Kombi and Beach Buggy as electric cars only. There are no plans to offer them with conventional petrol power.

The move will either be a stroke of genius or a catastrophic failure because, despite the hype about electric cars, they still only represent minuscule sales in Australia and overseas.

Just like the original, the modern Beach Buggy is rear drive and the engine is in the back. This time, though, it’s a silent electric motor rather than the “dack-dack” sound of the iconic Beetle engine.

The 150kW electric motor is powerful enough to get the Beach Buggy from 0 to 100kmh in about 7.2 seconds, ‘warm hatch’ territory.

The concept is a two-seater but VW says a four-seat configuration is possible. VW also says the platform is flexible enough to add an electric motor up front, to make it all-wheel-drive.

VW says the Beach Buggy concept has an estimated driving range of about 250km and is powered by 62kWh lithium-ion battery pack that also forms the basis of its “skateboard-style” platform (imagine a skateboard the size of a car and then put a body on it, and you have the idea).

That’s not to confuse the actual skateboard complete with Beach Buggy-Style wheels sitting on the back parcel shelf.

While the Beach Buggy is yet to be confirmed for production and given there are no doors, roof or windows other than the windscreen, the final production version may not look exactly like this VW insiders insist the German giant is working on a “fun off-road electric vehicle for the future”.

Could this eventually be VW’s answer to the Suzuki Jimny or Jeep Wrangler? We’ll know by 2022. Once VW begins to roll out its electric cars for the masses, it says it can start on niche models like the Beach Buggy because the “skateboard-style” platform makes it more cost effective to add unique bodies.

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling