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China: Beijing Auto Show: Volkswagen E-Bugster Presages Shape of Drop-Top Beetle

Volkswagen E-Bugster convertible concept, shown during a group preview on Sunday in Beijing.
¶Volkswagen used the Beijing auto show to unveil a convertible version of its E-Bugster, an electrically powered Beetle concept first shown in Detroit in January.

¶The automaker has not made it easy to parse all the clues about future models embodied in this vehicle. Volkswagen says the concept presages the coming gasoline-powered convertible version of the 2012 Beetle, which is expected to be introduced at the Los Angeles auto show in November. But whether an electric powertrain would reach that car or its hardtop equivalent is not so clear, especially with the E-Golf undergoing an internal fleet test.

¶The questions stem from two concerns: cost and packaging. VW management has stated it would not subsidize — that is, lose money on — sales of electric vehicles. As such, a significant price premium could be expected for the E.V.’s, if and when they appeared. The battery pack in the E-Bugster convertible occupies the entire rear seat, leaving it as a relatively impractical two-seater.

¶Performance isn’t dazzling, either. A zero-to-62 m.p.h. time of 10.8 seconds is not neck-snapping, although it is battery-sapping. Under a more conservative driving regimen, a range of up to 112 miles would be achievable, VW asserted.
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