In 1938 the very first Volkswagen Beetle rolled off of the assembly line. Since that time more than 21 million of the “classic” beetle have been produced. This makes it one of the most produced cars in history as well as having had the longest lifespan (including the redesigns). But what does a future of shrinking amounts of oil, and the increasing acceptance of electric cars hold for a classic? Zelectric may have an answer to that.

Based out of San Diego, Zelectric retrofits the VW Beetle (1958-1966) with a 65kW AC motor. This doubles the horsepower of the original motor as well as gives it a top speed of over 100 mph. Although much like the early Teslas, the new electric motor does limit the range of the car to 80 miles before needing a charge. Unfortunately this car won’t be making long distance road trips anytime soon.

Zelectric is proud to point out that each car is custom fitted for its motor and that they do not nor will they use conveyor belts. If you want to own one of these beauties it will cost you ~$37,000 if you are providing your own Type 1. If you are buying one from Zelectric that price goes up to around ~$54,000. If Beetle’s aren’t quite your style but looking for a similar classic Zelectric will do pre-80’s: VW Karmann Ghia, VW Microbus, VW Thing, VW Squarebacks, VW Notchbacks, VW Fastbacks, Meyers Manx, Porsche 356, Porsche 911, Porsche 912, Porsche 914, and Porsche replicas. But who could turn down this beauty?
Zelectric Beetle
All in all, these are great looking cars that are virtually maintenance free. They may not be able to make a cross country trip just yet, but with Tesla and others advancing the storage capacity this shouldn’t be a problem much longer. If you want to find out more about Zelectric watch the video below or go to Zelectric.

Credit for photos to Zelectric
Credit for VW statistic to Werner Oswald ISBN 3-613-02116-1 pg. 39

Chasing the Dream of Half-Price Gasoline from Natural Gas

Over the past decade, the petroleum industry has developed new techniques for extracting natural gas from rock through processes known as fracking and horizontal drilling. Basically, gas and oil that is trapped in layers of rock below the water table have been inaccessible to oil companies until recently. The oil companies now can drill vertically and then horizontally into rock, making an L shape drilling path from the surface to the rock below. What flows from these paths is natural gas, not oil (although some oil can be extracted through this method). But now a California company is working on a process could allow natural gas (largely used for heating our homes) into gasoline (to power cars, trucks and so on):

At a pilot plant in Menlo Park, California, a technician pours white pellets into a steel tube and then taps it with a wrench to make sure they settle together. He closes the tube, and oxygen and methane—the main ingredient of natural gas—flow in. Seconds later, water and ethylene, the world’s largest commodity chemical, flow out. Another simple step converts the ethylene into gasoline . . . f Siluria really can make cheap gasoline from natural gas it will have achieved something that has eluded the world’s top chemists and oil and gas companies for decades. Indeed, finding an inexpensive and direct way to upgrade natural gas into more valuable and useful chemicals and fuels could finally mean a cheap replacement for petroleum.

If this process is successful, gas prices could come down. Way down, and stay down, which might mean that alternative fuels like battery power and CNG might be less attractive to consumers looking to save money when fueling their cars.

Of course, there’s a downside here. More fossil fuels burned means that more emissions go into the atmosphere, which may be contributing to global warming. So for environmentalists, this might be seen as a step backwards rather than a step forwards when it comes to transforming the ways we power vehicles in the 21st century. Fracking too, has come under fire from green activists, so a breakthrough here would certainly mean more fracking.