Volkswagen Kicks Off A Chinese Expansion By Going Topless

By Blake Z. Rong | April 24, 2012
The electric system might not make it into production, but the looks will: Volkswagen previewed the E-Bugster concept at the Beijing Motor Show, and as befitting a roadster, this time it's got its top down. Those with longer attention spans than us may recall that the E-Bugster made its first debut in Detroit this January, but its white skull cap was permanently affixed to its body. Now that the bulky roof is gone, the cut-down windshield and white, expansive tonneau cover give the E-Bugster a properly racy look. The powertrain specifics remain the same: an electric motor has 114 horsepower and can go 110 miles per charge, which only takes 35 minutes, and can reach 60 miles per hour in 10.9 seconds. If that sounds slow to you, then take comfort in the fact that you'll look good while reaching that unhurried pace.
Volkswagen's presence in China is expanding beyond the Beijing convention center floors. It's investing $225 million in a new Chinese factory tucked away in Urumqi, Xinjiang, China's mountainous and desolate northwestern corner. A little less than a quarter-million is chump change for a company that has an operating income of $24.8 billion, but it's icing on the cake for a company that already dominates the Chinese market. But Western China is relatively uncharted territory, full of ethnic tensions and dangerous terrain. Volkswagen and local partner SAIC will build 50,000 cars there per year—compare this with the three million cars total, per year, that the two companies want to build. Surely, a convertible Beetle will be in the mix. Will it look like this? As the Chinese market grows, the style-conscious will come out of the woodwork. Volkswagen has started to offer the Beetle in China, and if the startlingly similar American market is any indication, the Beetle convertible will make its way to both shores—and, hopefully, looking as mean and lean as this one. Sources: Volkswagen, Reuters