San Diego’s Electric Bug
[column size=three_quarter position=first ]Zelectric Motors is the brainchild of passionate VW fans David Benardo and Bonnie Rodgers. In 2011, they decided to put their east coast creative agency in their rearview mirror and head back home to California. With a lifelong affinity for the VW brand and decades spent working with tech companies, they envisioned a fusion of vintage classics and future-forward electric drivetrains. In late 2012, after teaming up with hot shop EV West, conversion work began on a groundbreaking ride that would eventually become the ZelectricBug prototype.
It was about 8 years ago when the idea first occurred to David. After endless tinkering to keep their beloved 1965 21-window VW Bus on the road, he was ready to convert to 100% electric power. But as he began to research and price out components, he hit a wall. Costs were astronomical and mentors offering expertise on how to do it were nowhere to be found.
Fast forward to 2012. A huge decrease in component costs and a move to San Diego inspired him to give the idea another go. Fired up and ready to breathe life into the concept, he brought their 1963 ragtop VW Bug to award-winning electric race build specialists EV West, and work began on the first Zelectric Bug. Once they put word out about what they were doing on social media, they discovered thousands of fans worldwide. Work continues as additional models are now built to order.[/column]
[column size=one_quarter position=last ]“I built this car because it’s fun to drive”[/column]
[column size=three_quarter position=first ]Valuing the stock Beetle as it was originally designed by Porsche, nothing is welded or cut. In fact, the conversion back to a stock combustible engine would be relatively simple. But it seems highly unlikely once someone drives electric. Starting with a restored car in optimum shape, the engine is pulled and conversion begins. Batteries (LiFePo4 Lithium) are hidden under the hood and behind the back seat. The maintenance-free AC motor is mounted directly to a rebuilt original transmission, then wiring and components are installed. With 110 ft-lb of torque and horsepower double that of the original, this little electric bug can fly.
[column size=one_quarter position=last ]“It’s got another 50 years as an electric car”[/column]
[column size=three_quarter position=first ]San Diego is a beautiful place to live or visit. The sun is constantly shining and the weather is cooler than Los Angeles. But the real joy comes from the stretches of road that run parallel to the ocean. From Encinitas all the way down to Sunset Cliffs, you come across small pockets of coastline roads that are exhilarating to drive. This Southern California adventure includes steep inclines, s-turns and long winding roads with a postcard-perfect backdrop of sun and sea.