Green power may help Trabant trundle back to life
By Caroline Copley
BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - One of the most endearing symbols of communist East Germany, the stinky two-cylinder "Trabant" will roar back to life at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt in September -- as an electric concept car.
Designers behind the modernized prototype, "Trabant nT" hope to transform the former smoke-belching clunker into an energy efficient vehicle for the modern city-dweller, equipped with electric fuel cells and a solar-panel roof.
"We think it will appeal to drivers who want something sustainable and stylish," said Daniel Stiegler, a spokesman for Herpa Miniaturemodelle.
The Trabant, known affectionately as the "Trabi," was designed as the communist answer to the Volkswagen Beetle and clattered down East German streets at a top speed of 100 kph (62 mph), trailing a distinctive odor of oil and mixed petrol.
Known in the West as a spark plug with a roof, because of its small size, East Germans queued for years to buy one.
Herpa, a Bavarian manufacturer of miniature vehicles bought the rights to the name two years ago with a view to creating, with a partner, a full-size revamped version of the cult car.
The firm said it received an overwhelmingly positive response in 2007 to a 1:10 scale model of its two-door, four seater concept.
"We had a folder at the fair asking visitors if they were in favor of the model as a real car," Stiegler said. "We had about 14,000 reactions and about 90 percent were in favor of bringing it back." Continued...