• Germany's news in English

Trabi project aims to electrify 'Ostalgia'

Jörg Luyken · 31 Mar 2015, 09:34

Published: 31 Mar 2015 09:34 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Renewable energy company ReeVolt has started a project to turn the old East German cars into something fit for the 21st Century by converting them to electric propulsion.

Andre Schmidt, spokesperson for ReeVolt, lists the advantages that come with the Trabi.

“It is extremely light, so it does not need a large battery to run it, it does not need a new drive mechanism and there is enough room in the boot for the battery and space for storage.”

“It is a car that is waiting to live again,” he says.

The company first had the idea of converting old cars into e-cars when they successfully put an electric motor in a Volkswagen Beetle just over two years ago.

The next question was “What other car had such a big influence on the German roads as the Beetle?” Schmidt explains.

A German icon

The Trabi, full name Trabant, used to be the pride and joy of communist East Germany.

But comrades had to wait years before a new one was delivered – and old ones were famously more expensive than new ones.

In total over 3.7 million of them rolled off the production line over five decades.

But they were never the most environmentally friendly of vehicles. Nor were they much to compare with their West German equivalents.

To West Germans they were a slightly charming symbol of the dysfunctionality of their communist neighbours. Top speed was 100 km/h and the fuel insertion system meant that in the event of a crash, a fire breaking out was highly likely.

But 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall memories have become more rose-tinted and 'Ostalgia' – nostalgia for the days of communism - grows ever stronger.

So it make sense that the first customer for the newly kitted out Trabis was the Tourist Board in Rügen, an island on the Balitc coast in Mecklenburg Vorpommen, the northernmost state in the former east Germany.

Story continues below…

They have ordered three of the cars which they will offer for tours around the island.

“It is something for people with a love for Trabis; it is about beautiful memories,” Schmidt explains, saying that there is little chance that the project will ever meet a mass market.

But he says “it would be nice if hundreds of Beetles and Trabis were to once again drive along the roads of Germany.”

One more benefit. The new cars should arrive at your door slightly quicker than in the days of communism.

Schmidt says it only takes about two days to convert an old Trabi to electric usage.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Jörg Luyken (joerg.luyken@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Munich to get 'nice toilets' to serve cross-legged locals
Photo: DPA

The Bavarian capital has a pee problem - the city only has one public toilet for every 13,000 inhabitants. But a new plan could rescue desperate locals, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports.

German kids get glowing report for their English skills
Photo: DPA.

As if multilingual Germans don't already put many English-speakers to shame, now the younger generation is improving their English skills even more.

Berlin museum controversially recreates Hitler bunker
The reconstruction of the Hitler bunker. Photo: DPA

Sensationalized or compelling history? Berlin museums clash over new Nazi bunker exhibit

Germans think they're fit, but they're really couch potatoes
Photo: DPA.

There's been an increase in the number of Germans who define themselves as "fit", but their lifestyle choices don't quite match this self-perception.

10 fascinating facts you never knew about German beer
Tennis coach Boris Becker and his wife Lilly at Oktoberfest 2016 in Munich. Photo: DPA

From malt and monks to Radlers and rivalries, the story of German beer is as rich and wonderful as its selection.

Intensive farming 'endangers a third of German species'
Photo: DPA

There are 32,000 species of animal, plant and mushroom life native to Germany. Due to intensive farming methods, one in every three of these is endangered, a new report shows.

German hospital uses therapy to 'treat' paedophiles
A poster from the campaigne "Don't offend", which offers therapy to paedophiles. The sign reads "Do you love kids more than you'd prefer? There's help." Photo: DB Scholz & Friends / DPA.

A unique German initiative is offering therapy to paedophiles to control their urges, with the aim of getting them help before they offend.

Minister: 'no tolerance' for clowns after chainsaw attack
Photo: DPA

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has called for a zero-tolerance approach to 'killer clowns' after a series of attacks culminating in two teenagers being chased by a clown wielding a chainsaw.

Baby who was auctioned on eBay taken away from father
Photo: DPA.

A German court ruled on Thursday that a man who put his one-month-old baby up for sale on the online auction platform eBay should only be allowed contact with the child under supervision.

Portugal's ruling party calls German minister 'pyromaniac'
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Photo: DPA.

The head of Portugal's ruling Socialists called German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble a "pyromaniac" on Thursday after he criticized Lisbon for reversing course on austerity.

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd