When Volkswagen put the trademark paperwork in for a suite of new electric car names alongside the launch of AC conversion kits for existing fuel cars, it raised a lot of eye brows.
E-Samba, E-Beetle, E-Golf, and E-Classic (among others) are all names set aside for the German based car makers fuel-free future plans; and conversion kits to be it’s bridge for the existing stable of cars. Now that the formalities are done, the question now is: what will happen to the classics we’ve grown up with?
While there is no news on when these models could officially come to fruition, it’s a rare insight into the boardroom of a major car maker. Clearly they’re thinking fuel will inevitably be replaced with AC and are getting their plan B in “early”.
For the average enthusiast, the thought of a silent engine in a classic car is almost too much to think about. The sound, smell, and handling can’t be substituted with magnets and AC power. Combined with the look and feel, these features are what make the cars we all know and love truly “classic”.
It is a reality check though. As much as car enthusiasts (myself included) would love to maintain the status quo, climate research is pushing the public and, as a result, car makers to look to the future. And that future shows early signs of a booming EV sales.
Take a look at EV car sales for example. In 2010, there were only 17,000 EV purchases made globally. Fast forward to 2019 and sales grew to 7,200,000 as China, Europe and the United quickly adopted the technology. Even though this still only represents 2.6% of global sales, it shows a quick shift in how we buy cars.
Australia is no different. The Tesla Owners Club believe local stock levels of the vehicle have grown 333 per cent in recent months in response to sales. That coupled with greater accessibility to AC charging stations, means the foundations are being laid.
Australia is still a fair way behind countries in Europe and the US, as many of them have legislated mandatory sales quotas of EV’s in the next few years. Don’t be surprised if Australia doesn’t follow suit with similar legislation in the next 5-10 years.
Classic-EV conversion companies have grown in recent years, and will likely continue to as the technology becomes cheaper and more available. Volkswagen, who are investing billions into their future electric plans, have partnered with EV-conversion company eClassics. The German EV company, known for its electric Beetle and Kombi kits now has the backing of Volkswagen itself with the addition of their sales network as well as genuine parts and servicing support.
For enthusiasts, an obvious drawback of the EV revolution is that it could spell the end of the road for their classic or sports car. A petrol-driven combustion engine is the heart and soul of these vehicles, and it’s unlikely their owners would feel that same magic behind the wheel of a battery-powered iteration. While being an interesting compromise, swapping out petrol-drivetrain for a completely electric one for sports cars is daunting for the traditional enthusiast. While this ‘transplant’ would make the car a completely different machine, it would allow it to be ready for a changing world – one where petrol won’t be around forever.
The future seems like a scary place for car enthusiasts, particularly those fond of the classics. I’ll admit that it will be a sad day if/when the petrol bowser is turned off for good, but if it happens in my lifetime I’d rather a classic with an EV drivetrain than no classic at all.