Is it necessary for classic car fans and lovers of classic brands to be worried about electric cars? Well, not necessarily: An increasing number of carmakers are turning their attention to their own past and introducing electric cars to the market that more or less echo legendary vehicles.
The announcement by Renault to bring back the 5 from 2023 has created a particularly big stir. And it will do so in the look of the 1970s/1980s. But the French are not alone in this. There are other classics in automotive history that are experiencing a revival, sometimes even an entire brand.
Either electric cars look extremely futuristic, which scares off some customers, or they are designed in a retro style. Alternatively, they go for a retro design to evoke positive memories of the (supposedly) “good old days.”
Here we present 10 electric cars that are already surfing the retro wave or will be in dealerships in the next few years. And you can expect more to come…
10. Opel Manta GSe ElektroMOD
Well, we start our review off with one of the most recent and coolest ideas: Like the name suggests, Opel has merged the body of the 4.34-meter-long Manta A with the electric powertrain and front end of the new Mokka-e in the Manta GSe ElektroMOD.
Up until now, it appears that the vehicle has been a so-called “restomod,” which means old bodywork on new technology, which has been built as a one-off. However, the PSA Group, which Opel is part of, is developing a new electric platform for the period from 2023. Perhaps something will come of the Neo-Manta.
This car is the reason for this article: The newly appointed CEO Luca de Meo made a big splash with his announcement of a new electric version of the Renault 5.
And that wasn’t all, because a retro-design study was also presented at the same time. Surprisingly, it is inspired by the original, which was built between 1972 and 1996.
In 2023, the production version should arrive, and the technology could be provided by the Renault Zoe: up to 135 hp, a 52-kWh battery and a range of just under 400 kilometers. There is talk of a starting price of around 20,000 euros.
Here’s another comeback of a classic that we’ve been desperately waiting for: the ID.BUZZ concept car will finally go into production in 2022. Obviously, its design is based on the T1, that is, the first generation of the VW “Bulli” built between 1949 and 1967.
It was very popular here in the United States as the “Microbus”. Volkswagen would like to build on this success with the new electric edition.
The ID.Buzz would be based on the Modular Electric Building Kit MEB. With a wheelbase of exactly 3.30 meters, the 4.94-meter-long concept car should have up to eight seats and two luggage compartments. Its 111-kWh battery should enable a range of 600 kilometers according to the NEDC.
In 2018, Peugeot had already unveiled a reinterpretation of the 504 Coupé in the form of the e-Legend Concept study, with both vehicles featured in one image. This e-Legend was 4.65 meters long with a wheelbase of 2.69 meters. Meanwhile, the 1969 prototype measured 4.36 meters in length with a wheelbase of 2.55 meters.
It was powered by an electric motor that produced 462 hp and 800 Nm of torque on both axles. The sprint from 0-100 km/h was to be completed in under four seconds. Top speed was given as 220 km/h by the French. Simultaneously, the 100 kWh battery was to provide a range of 600 kilometers.
From 2023, the new Group platform eVMP should enable batteries with storage capacities of 60 to 100 kWh. This means that a WLTP range of 400 to 650 kilometers is possible, depending on the body. Perhaps there will be series production of the e-Legend after all.
The tiny Microlino is an unmistakable reference to the legendary BMW Isetta from 1955. Following various legal battles, the Microlino has now been redesigned from the ground up. The 2.0 version is supposed to be much more robust and spacious.
It will be powered by an electric motor and will have a maximum range of 200 km. The production is to finally start in September 2021.
Fiat launched the 500 as an electric car in 2020. Confidently, they talk about a new 500 that has little to do with the combustion model offered in parallel.
It is curious that Fiat has two retro cars in its program, both of which are based on the legendary “Nuova 500” from 1957. The current internal combustion 500 was released back in 2007.
Its entry-level version of the electric 500, offers 70 kW of power and has a 24-kWh battery pack. The version with 87 kW (118 hp) and 220 Newton meters of torque, which is delivered to the front wheels, ranks above this. The 42 kWh battery provides a range of around 300 kilometers.
Exactly how much retro is in the Honda e? Not much at first glance. However, the body reveals which classic car served as a template for the designers: the 1972 Honda Civic.
At 3.89 meters, however, the Honda e is a good half meter longer than the first Civic. Its battery is 35.5 kWh, and has a maximum range of 222 kilometers.
Italian Fiat Panda makes a comeback. While of course, it was never entirely gone. Fiat surprised us in 2019 with the Centoventi concept car, which echoed the simple concept of the original Panda from 1980. Supposedly in 2022, the Centoventi will go into production.
Whether it will replace the current Panda or join it as an additional electric Panda, like the Fiat 500, is still unclear. From a technical point of view at least, it is expected to resemble the Strom 500, i.e. to carry batteries with 24 kWh and 42 kWh capacity under the five-door body.
Very well, the US car brand Hummer, which operated between 1992 and 2010, is not quite classic yet. Still, it made a comeback as an electric car in 2020 through parent company General Motors.
The Hummer EV is scheduled to be launched on the US market in the fall of 2021, and its appearance is based on the old H2 and H3. Three electric motors with a combined output of around 1,000 hp (746 kilowatts) will power the first version to be offered.
The battery’s capacity has not yet been announced, but the range is expected to be more than 350 miles (over 560 kilometers).
Finally, our last example is not about the electric comeback of a single car, but of an entire brand. MG was in existence as a British manufacturer between 1923 and 2005. Following the bankruptcy of parent company Rover, MG ended up in Chinese hands in 2005, more specifically in the hands of today’s SAIC Group.
Meanwhile, MG has focused on electric cars. In the first quarter of 2021, sales of the MG ZS EV model will start in Europe. Additional models, which include an electric station wagon, are already planned.