Volkswagen E-Bugster Concept Preview: 2012 Detroit Auto Show

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A two-seater, chop-top, electric Beetle? Yep, that's the Volkswagen E-Bugster Concept, making its world debut tomorrow at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show--but getting an early sneak peek thanks to some leaks the night before.

The "speedster" look (though VW acknowledges it's not a true open-top speedster) of the low roof, flat/wide windshield, and shallow windows are the primary design departures for the E-Bugster. The real highlight is the all-electric powertrain.

Volkswagen says it's a 114-horsepower (85 kW), 199-pound-foot electric motor fed by a lithium-ion battery good for more than 100 miles range, though it doesn't disclose the kilowatt-hour rating of the battery pack. The battery weighs 695 pounds, so it's likely pretty substantial.

An underhood plug enables Level 1 (120-volt), Level (240-volt), and Level 3 (quick charge) charging. In Level 3 mode, the E-Bugster can reach 80 percent charge in just 30 minutes.

While all of this is well and good, the real nugget of production-bound news in this concept is the name of this electric powertrain setup, "Blue-e-motion," and the fact that it will power the future production Golf Blue-e-Motion.

EV-specific instrumentation in the cabin includes an energy consumption gauge that fluctuates with vehicle acceleration, a driving range indicator, a charge state display, and a battery regeneration display.

Other design elements of the E-Bugster include some hints at possible future directions for the Beetle. LED daytime running lights are taken from the production Beetle, for example, but enhanced with a graphic on each side of the lower air intake. Reflectors mimic these graphics on the rear bumper. Flared fenders and 20-inch wheels are accented by a "Beetle 'V'" along the car's side, and the lower window's chrome has been extended. The E-Bugster's roof is three inches lower than the standard Beetle.

We'll have full details and live coverage of the E-Bugster and the rest of the Detroit Auto Show over the next two days, so keep up with all of it here.

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