BEST of the BEST 2014 | Wheels | Specialty Vehicles | Alternative Energy : ZelectricBug

If flower power were an alternative energy, it would propel the ZelectricBug. Instead, the car runs on lithium-iron-phosphate batteries—the same chemistry used by Tesla Motors. The batteries are stowed behind the backseat and in the nose, where the gas tank used to be. Zelectric Motors, a San Diego–based company, begins with a well-restored vintage Volkswagen Beetle (the company’s prototype is a red 1963 model), removes the engine, and replaces it with an electric propulsion system powered by the batteries. The car’s starting price is $45,000.

The Bug’s range on a single charge is 80 to 100 miles. Zelectric Motors retains the Beetle’s 4-speed manual transmission, but the car can be driven as though the transmission were automatic: The gears can essentially serve as driving modes, with the lower gears providing greater torque and thus quicker acceleration. The car’s top speed is more than 90 mph. Drivers old enough to remember the 1960s-era Beetles may be surprised by the absence of the clatter that came from the original car’s opposed 4-cylinder engine. Instead, all they will hear is the whisper of tire treads touching asphalt, the thump of wheels crossing over road bumps, and maybe the voice of “Mama” Cass Elliot singing inside their heads. (Zelectric Motors, 619.709.6155, www.zelectricmotors.com

McLaren, Rolls-Royce, Porsche, Cadillac, and Lincoln, among others, made stunning showings…
Photo by Michael Furman
Vintage Porsches are ascending to new heights among collectors...
The $100,000 cruiser is tricked out with carbon fiber and solid performance for an electric two-...
With a turbocharged engine and three electric motors, the new NSX will challenge the top models...
Photo by Mercedes-Benz USA
AMG GLE63 Coupe and AMG GLE450 Coupe boast impressive acceleration times…
The two-seat sports car features contemporary reinterpretations of classic Bentley design cues…
One of the most technologically advanced electric power trains to make its way onto a production...
The new vehicles are lighter and quicker than their gas-burning counterparts…
Photo by Royce Rumsey
The annual springtime event highlights some of the world’s finest collector cars…
The new car has a zero-to-60-mph time of 3.1 seconds and can lap the Nürburgring in less than 7.5...