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The debate on whether or not Electric Vehicles (EV) are viable in South Africa rages on.

Electric Trabant for communists?

2009-09-17 07:53
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Trabant
Model nT
Engine Electric
Power 45kW
Top Speed 130km/h
Weight 400kg
Blade Nzimande's 750i is just too bourgeois for a communist, right? Fortunately a new electric Trabant is on the way, pandering to more proletarian sensibilities.

With the uproar concerning elaborate ministerial vehicles in South Africa, the Trabant nT electric car concept could not possibly have come at a better time. It must be the most uniquely retro car on display at this year's Frankfurt motor show.

The best of pre-unification Germany reborn?

Generally regarded as the worst mass produced car in history, the Karl Marxmobile might soon have a new lease on life – with zero emissions too, quite a turnaround considering its industrial heartland past.

You might think the nT is funded by some Russian oligarch with a perverted sense of humour. You’d be wrong though.

It’s built by Herpa Miniaturmodelle – a German toy manufacturer, which is deeply ironic in itself.

Herpa’s head of marketing, Klaus Schindler, says the abnormal demand and lifecycle for Trabant toy models (ever since the wall came down in 1989) got the company thinking about building a proper road car again. It must rank as the most counter-intuitive marketing insight of the century.

Lotus besting lightness?

On a utilitarian level the nT will be powered by a relatively contemporary electric drivetrain, comprising an asynchronous motor (worth 45kW) fed by a lithium-ion battery.

Herpa says nT’s target production weight is an amazingly low 400kg, which means either Lotus will soon be out of business or the Herpa guys have spent too much time inhaling the glue they bond their toy models with…

Range is claimed to be 160km, with top speed limited to 130km/h – which is more than sufficient for the proletariat’s daily requirements. Recharging is via a 220V socket, with eight hours necessary to power up completely.

Herpa’s technology partner is IndiKar – a German parts supplier – and the toy maker hopes to find an audacious enough investor, able to fund the production run in time for 2012, at a rather capitalistic price of €20 000.

We admire Herpa’s peculiarly Bavarian sense of humour. How many families in former East Germany will see the funny side of a brand which symbolised their oppression for nearly five decades is debatable though...

Now if only all our local government comrades (especially old Blade) could trade in their German SUVs and luxury-barges for Trabant nT’.

Lenin would most certainly approve - and COSATU probably too...


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