Trabant revived as an electric car?

Trabant revived as an electric car?
German toy maker considers making a full-size model

The humble Trabant could be brought back to life as an eco-friendly electric vehicle -- by a toy company with big plans.

A German model-car maker says it will unveil the full-size concept vehicle at next month's Frankfurt motor show.

The electric version of the Trabant is even said to have solar panels in the sunroof to recharge its onboard battery pack.

A spokesman for model-car maker Herpa, which plans to build the modern Trabant if it can raise enough funds -- and support -- told Automotive News Europe: "The New Trabi will be a stylish car with a history. It will be electrically powered because that is the trend."

Further details were limited, other than it should be able to travel 250km on battery power before needing to be recharged.

The new Trabant is expected to share the look of the old model but have four doors and a bigger boot.

More than three million petrol-engined Trabants were made between 1958 and 1991.

Powered by wheezy two-cylinder two-stroke motors, they had many fans as well as detractors.

They put much of East Europe on four wheels but later became known as the scourge of the Continent because of their smoky, polluting engines.

The designers of the original Trabant only expected the model to last 10 years. In the end it lasted more than 30.

During its life, the engine was upgraded from 13kW to 15kW. In modern terms this is best described as a pathetic amount of power.

More modern engines were planned but production ended in 1991 after the reunification of Germany opened up borders to cheap (and better made) used cars from West Germany.

According to information on the Herpa website, the company has produced "several hundred thousand" 1:87 scale model Trabants, and now plans to build a 1:1 scale model.

With a number of technical partners, Herpa says its plan is to "present a modern Trabant successor as original-sized prototype at the [2009 Frankfurt motor] show.

Currently, a full-size prototype is being prepared. The wishes of the cult car's many enthusiastic fans are incorporated in the development as well as the car enthusiast's expectation for a trend-setting technology. The newTrabi is supposed to be an eye-catcher with history and charm -- innovative, handy and economical."

The website continued: "So far, everything is on schedule and the next, decisive step is lined up: The prototype stage. We will continue our report as soon as the financing for this next step is resolved with a positive outcome. Keep your fingers crossed!"
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