back to article Communist car given electric overhaul

The truly wretched East German Trabant looks set to make a comeback at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show. But, unlike the fume-belching 1950s-era model, the updated Trabant will run on electricity and sunshine. Set to be called the Trabant nT, the redesign is the idea of German die-cast toy manufacturer Herpa Miniaturmodelle, …


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  1. JimC

    That's even uglier than the real thing...

    What happened, did someone stamp on it?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Good luck with that ...

    I remember Herpa from way back in the days when I played with model trains (had a fair number of their 1:87 scale car and truck models) and the certainly used to make good stuff.

    I must admit, I rather like the look of the model Trabi, especially those bad-ass alloy wheels :-)

    Here's hoping they can pull it off in 1:1 scale.

  3. Olli Mannisto

    Solar power..

    They sort of neglected to tell us how many days of sunny weather do you need to top up a dead battery, thought.

  4. Dimitrov

    Hey, now!

    "when you consider the original motoring monstrosity that Herpa had to work with"

    Hey now, let's not resort to name-calling! The Trabant was cool. Maybe not fast, or safe, or pleasant to drive, but cool nonetheless.

    Meh, westerners...

  5. Fluffykins

    Oh - HERPA

    I thought it was Herpes

  6. Lord Raa


    Well, it's not the prettiest thing I've ever seen, but it's got a certain "retro-charm" to it.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Solar panel on the (small) roof?

    > won’t demand the same ten-year waiting list that the original did

    Maybe not for sales, but recharging should be around there somewhere...

  8. Adam 10


    So, twice the range of the iMIEV, a third the cost, and they have no experience of building cars... Plus it weighs less than a tonne.

    I'd love it if this really happens, but I fear they've forgotten to carry the 1 when they did their calculations... or they forgot to add on the weight and cost of the battery pack.

  9. Anonymous John

    Price looks good.

    As does the range.

    I'm not sure they can do it without cutting corners somewhere though.

  10. Tim 30

    Strangely attractive

    I think it has a kind of coolness about it.

    If it said VW or Audi on it you'd all be drooling over it's interesting lines, promising performance and so on.

    I think it's 300C ish quatro boxterish looks are interesting

    mmmm beer

  11. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Oh my god

    That really does spank me with its ugliness.

    It could be the most horrible thing ever - at least until the battery-powered Austin Ellegro (see what I did there?) comes along (very slowly).

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Aren't all electric cars communist?

    I can't see this selling well.

  13. Tim 30

    Is it a Dodge?

    It is isn't it, it looks like a Dodge Nitor that's been sat on and painted "Disabled 3 wheeler blue"

    ooo more beer

  14. It wasnt me
    Thumb Down


    I'd have thought that "paying homage to the original design" should be further down the priority list than paying homage to aerodynamics in some form or another.

    Especially when the original design was about as pretty as a bucket of smashed crabs.

  15. Matt 13


    I like...

    now, if they think they can pull it off with the rrp, id be impressed and they will have the leccy market sewn up!

  16. northern monkey
    Thumb Down

    oh lord...

    ...that's truly horrible! It looks like some sort of modern version of brum! I can see its eyes about to open!

    And herpa!? Surely that would never sell well here - no-one wants to be reminded of that unfortunate one night stand whilst driving around in their shiny new car!

    (And is that a vile shade of baby blue in the picture or is firefox messing up the colours in that image too? I though the macbook air was bright pink earlier)

  17. Mike Moyle

    Trabant nT?

    ...and will the next model be the Trabant2000 (Built on nT technology)?

    BTW -- Tinted windshield; ok... but tinted headlights?

  18. Richard 102

    Oh Please Please Please

    Please make this and let Jeremy Clarkson review it on Top Gear: a communist electric car built by a toy company.

    Mine's the one with the Peel P50 in the pocket.

  19. Al 14
    Thumb Down

    Seems cheap but...

    .... why not design a better looking car and forget about the Trabant thing all together?!

  20. Martin Lyne
    Thumb Down

    To everyone bemoaning the solar panel

    .. if you had a device that sat in your car and made a tablespoon of petrol while you were driving around.. would you call it stupid? It might only be a little, but it adds up. The idea is not to charge your car fully in the sun. You may think you;re clever by saying it'd take a long time, but you just look ignorant.

    Lets all ignore the giant fusion reactor in the sky!

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Is That A "Photo" of the Prototype?

    If so, I suspect that it may be a while before they come rolling off the line.

    It's pretty clearly a ray-traced image, or maybe even hand-drawn.

  22. PunkTiger


    Hey, now! Whoa! Let's step back from this for a moment. I'm looking over the comments here, and I can't believe what I'm reading. You mean to tell me that this Trabant-based automobile looks _UGLIER_ than some of the other "futuristic," day-glo bubble-cars that many other automobile manufacturers have been saying are the Next Big Electric Thing?

    Just compare some of the other electric car designs that have graced the pages of The Register's 'Leccy Tech, and you'll find the Trabant design isn't that bad at all. At least you can fit more than just the lead to charge it in the boot space. I'd like to see one of those when it's made (but living in the US, I have every doubt in the world it would even be seen on this side of the pond).

  23. J 3


    Chrysler 300, indeed... Mixed with Dodge Nitro or whatever is the name of that thing.

  24. Herby

    But will it have a rear window defroster?

    To keep your hands warm while you are pushing it? I think the Yugo had something like that.

    Oh, do I miss my 1964 VW beetle. Got its engine up to 1400 cc and it moved a bit quicker, finding less hill. Yes, COOL.

  25. stizzleswick

    I do hope they did not choose... keep the Trabant's undercarriage. That was derived straight from the pre-WW2 DKW F8 and felt like it.

    Personally, I don't like the design much, but then, I find many current car designs to be either horrible or overblown. Or both. *shrug* Maybe that's because I remember with fondness the 1980s mid-sized cars one could get into without using a shoehorn and know a few of their successors that have somehow managed to grow larger externally while becoming superminis inside.

    Anyway, if they think they can build that thing for below 10k quid, let 'em do it. I don't normally do long distances in my car, so at that price, when I need to buy a new one, this might be interesting enough for me to whip out my wallet.

  26. gherone

    30 years on the rod AVERAGE LIFE for the original

    I hope they keep the old Trabi's body panels and undercarriage - I owned the "combi" or wagon version, and I did carry 830Kg of cargo + 2 people in a car which was only 630Kg empty. Not fast, mind you, but I carry that cast iron stove for over 60Km in one afternoon. I doubt my current Subaru Forrester would make it out of the parking lot with 830Kg of cargo + 2 people inside. There is something to be said about a suspension system which can take such abuse. Average life on the road of a Trabi, per a documentary on History Channel is over 30 years - how many other cars can claim this?

  27. Martin Usher

    The Safety Regs will Get 'Em

    Older cars like the Trabant, Morris 1000, Citroen 2CV and the like can't be built new and sold these days because they don't meet modern safety standards. This project will not stand or fall on the electric bit (although there are legitimate questions about where the battery will go) but on its crash worthiness.

    The original Trabant was a bit weird because it had a two cylinder two stroke engine. It was cheap, light and horrible beyond imagination. The overall effect is not unlike the old Reliant or Bond three wheelers -- OK if that's all you've got but....

  28. Richard Sloan

    Electric cars

    This car may not be that pretty but at least it looks like a proper car. Aside from the Tesla every manufacturer of electric cars seems to want to make them look like ugly brightly coloured genital warts. They must make them this way so that their target market, the lentil munchers, can somehow take smug satisfaction in that they are showing that their cars are pure utilitarian transport and have no soul, no petrolheadedness to them.

  29. Michael 28

    Quick.....form a queue!!

    Free bag of oranges to the first 100 customers!

  30. calagan
    Thumb Up

    Would prefer a sedan version...

    ...but I'd definitely want one anyway

  31. stizzleswick

    Re: 30 years av. life on road

    Sure... in an economy where parents ordered the cars for their children about two months after birth so they could get them when they got the driver's licence at 18 (if you don't believe me, ask my great-aunt. She lived there for the whole stretch), cars had to be maintained. And that's what people did, because they had no choice.

    That is not to say that GDR engineering was bad; the high-end car (the Wartburg), while also based on a pre-WW2 design (the DKW F9), was ingenious; you could replace a dented fender in minutes because it was not welded, but screwed on. Great for self-service maintenance; I love that part of it.

    Stilll, no reason to glorify those seemingly long-lived designs. Undersized two-stroke engines in the 1980s (while the engineers had proposed a viable VW-Golf-beater in the mid-70s, but the GDR Politburo said the Trabant was still good enough for the Great Unwashed), a carcass-on-chassis design outdated by 40 years (and I say carcass because the driver would become one in even a slow-speed collision) and a body shell that needed to be swept off the road after an accident (because it would actually shatter into shrapnel)... NO THANKS!

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