Electric Trabant nT Breaks Cover

FRANKFURT — The electric Trabant is having its 15 minutes of fame at the Frankfurt auto show. What happens next is anybody’s guess.

The Trabant was a symbol of East German industrial failings for more than three decades before production of the car ceased nearly 20 years ago. Now two German companies are taking the next step toward finding investors and builders for a battery-powered Trabant nT.

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“We’ve had several discussions with investors and manufacturers, but I can’t tell you more than that now,” said Klaus Schindler, manager of Herpa, a miniature model-car maker. Herpa is working with IndiKar, a German auto parts-maker, which built the jelly-bean blue prototype on display here at the show.

Mr. Schindler launched the project two years ago. He says the boxy coupe could have a top speed of 70 miles an hour and a range of 150 miles on a charge. The Trabant nT brochure says the car will have “no unnecessary gadgetry.” Mr. Schindler figures it would cost about 20,000 euros (around $29,000).

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The original Trabant was a common sight in news footage when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, as thousands of East Germans abandoned their cars on their way to the West. Some reports erroneously said the Trabants’ bodies were made of cardboard; they were, in fact, made of Duroplast, a composite of plastic and cotton-waste fiberglass.

Its a shame it doesn’t look anything like the Herpa concept!


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