The Plug Bug – 1969 Electric VW Beetle

In April of 2010 I purchased a 1969 VW bug with the intent of converting it to run on electricity. In May I ordered parts. In January 2011, it finally moved!

Plug Bug Side shot

154 volts, 200 ah cells, 30.8kw-hr battery pack. Roughly 80+ mile range when in the Santa Cruz mountains. Up to 100 miles if not driven in the hills, and maintain 55mph.


* Netgain WarP 9 DC Motor

* Netgain Controls WarP Drive Controller (1000 amps) [No longer available]

* 48 3.2v 200ah Thunderksy Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries, in series for 154v nominal. 192v fully charged. 200ah in each cell.

* Elithion Lithiumate BMS (Battery Management System)

* Belktronix DC-DC converter

* Manzanita Micro PFC-30 Charger (NOTE: I don’t recommend it; mine failed twice. See this post and this post).

* Stock transmission, with standard clutch

* Front lowered 2″ with drop spindles

* Disc brakes all around

* 2″ shortened adjustable front beam


* Roughly 220-350 watt-hours consumed per mile

* 100+ mile range in theory (to 20% State of Charge), but acceleration and the hills take a lot away. My typical driving seems to give about 70-80 mile range to 20% SOC. That would be roughly 100 mile range to 0% battery (which I won’t do).

* Longest drive so far: 70 miles, and the battery was at 38% State of Charge. In theory, that is a 113 mile range to 0% battery level. This included driving over highway 17 twice (but lots of hypermiling).

* Update: another mileage test indicates about 120 mile range at 55mph on flat.


* Better than a stock bug

* Lots of low end torque

* Drives 55-60 mph up  highway 17 (> 5% grade at some places) and I can still accelerate

* Top speed, in theory 95 MPH (based on the gear ratio, and 5000 max ratio RPM of the motor)

* Top speed I’ve actually gone: about 85+ MPH

* Over 40,000 electric-only miles!

Check out some of my Cool Pictures!

Plug Bug – first drive video:

Walk around video describing some of the components (note: some things have changed over the years)

More Videos: Here is my YouTube PlayList of the Plug Bug.

 A couple of in progress pictures.

IMG_0646 IMG_0418 IMG_0453 IMG_0433

Below are chronological posts from my “Electric Bug” category on my blog from oldest to newest. You can see the process of me building up the car, and making decisions as I go along.

Electric Bug
April 5th, 2010 at 10:18 pm
Plug Bug: Step 1, Research
April 15th, 2010 at 8:29 pm
Plug Bug: Engine removed
April 26th, 2010 at 6:15 pm
Plug Bug: EV AC Drive Motor / Controller Selection
April 29th, 2010 at 6:00 pm
Plug Bug: AC vs DC
April 29th, 2010 at 6:08 pm
Plug Bug: More motor comparisions
May 10th, 2010 at 5:14 pm
Plug Bug: Final motor selection
May 21st, 2010 at 6:30 am
Plug Bug: Battery Research
May 21st, 2010 at 6:44 pm
Plug Bug: Interior Out and Rust in Back
May 27th, 2010 at 7:23 am
Plug Bug: Power/Energy Required
May 29th, 2010 at 10:15 pm
Plug Bug: Battery Box Simulation
May 29th, 2010 at 10:21 pm
Plug Bug: Tie rods and axle bolts
May 29th, 2010 at 10:53 pm
Plug Bug: Bumper Mounts
June 1st, 2010 at 9:06 pm
Plug Bug: WarP 9 Motor and Front End Work
June 4th, 2010 at 6:04 pm
Plug Bug: Sanding…bondo…sanding
June 6th, 2010 at 9:00 pm
Plug Bug: Front end restored
June 20th, 2010 at 9:43 pm
Plug Bug: Primered
June 27th, 2010 at 6:59 pm
Plug Bug: Red Paint
July 3rd, 2010 at 11:10 pm
Plug Bug: Two tone bug
July 14th, 2010 at 7:18 pm
Plug Bug: Luggage panel replaced
July 31st, 2010 at 8:14 am
Plug Bug: With the hood
July 31st, 2010 at 8:19 am
Plug Bug: Headliner Install
August 5th, 2010 at 10:06 pm
Plug Bug: Battery Delay :(
August 14th, 2010 at 8:32 am
VW Bug Restoration Links
August 15th, 2010 at 8:36 am
Plug Bug: Window / Door Restoration
August 15th, 2010 at 8:54 am
Plug Bug: Speedometer Repair
August 22nd, 2010 at 8:51 am
Plug Bug: Turning the flywheel
September 11th, 2010 at 9:33 pm
Plug Bug: Wheel Selection
September 14th, 2010 at 9:30 pm
Plug Bug: Seats Upholstered
October 5th, 2010 at 9:18 pm
Plug Bug: Wheel and Rim
October 5th, 2010 at 9:19 pm
Plug Bug: Motor Installed
October 5th, 2010 at 9:44 pm
Plug Bug: Interface Module Installed
October 10th, 2010 at 9:31 am
Plug Bug: Motor backing plate + Controller
October 17th, 2010 at 9:17 pm
Plug Bug: Wires and Hoses
October 18th, 2010 at 11:09 pm
Plug Bug: Wiring…and more wiring
November 4th, 2010 at 10:53 pm
Plug Bug: Electric Ceramic Heater
November 7th, 2010 at 12:14 pm
Plug Bug: iPad mount
November 7th, 2010 at 12:20 pm
Plug Bug: Auxillary 12 v Battery
December 2nd, 2010 at 10:18 pm
Plug Bug: Stereo
December 2nd, 2010 at 10:39 pm
Plug Bug: Gas Gap Sticker
December 4th, 2010 at 3:30 pm
Plug Bug: Batteries Arrived!
December 19th, 2010 at 10:37 am
Plug Bug: Battery Box Design
December 19th, 2010 at 11:38 pm
Plug Bug: Weight Distribution
December 22nd, 2010 at 12:00 am
Plug Bug: Strapping Thundersky batteries together
December 23rd, 2010 at 11:51 pm
Plug Bug: Front battery box fabrication
December 30th, 2010 at 8:59 pm
Plug Bug: Rear Battery Box
December 30th, 2010 at 9:55 pm
Plug Bug: Batteries
January 1st, 2011 at 10:45 am
Charger mounted, BMS install in progress
January 10th, 2011 at 11:40 pm
Plug Bug: Battery Bus Bars
January 10th, 2011 at 11:48 pm
Plug Bug: First Drive
January 16th, 2011 at 1:48 pm
Plug Bug: Paint Booth
January 25th, 2011 at 8:15 am
Plug Bug: Walk Around
January 26th, 2011 at 7:55 pm
Plug Bug: BMS Install
February 3rd, 2011 at 11:35 pm
Plug Bug: Elithion Lithiumate BMS setup (Part 2)
February 7th, 2011 at 10:06 pm
Plug Bug: IOTA DC-DC Converter fix
February 7th, 2011 at 9:26 pm
Plug Bug: Unicycle Storage
February 7th, 2011 at 10:29 pm
Plug Bug: Motor Cooling Ideas and Notes
February 17th, 2011 at 10:19 pm
Plug Bug: DMV Process Registering a Home Built EV
February 17th, 2011 at 10:29 pm
Plug Bug: DMV has it registered as an “E”
February 23rd, 2011 at 7:04 pm
Plug Bug: analyzing data
March 8th, 2011 at 8:58 pm
Plug Bug: Drive to work data
March 10th, 2011 at 9:56 pm
Bug + Tesla
March 15th, 2011 at 9:34 pm
Plug Bug: Water proofing the motor area
March 18th, 2011 at 7:03 pm
Shop Tour
March 19th, 2011 at 9:09 pm
Plug Bug: Access Okay
April 7th, 2011 at 7:52 pm
Plug Bug: Fan on, fan off
April 9th, 2011 at 8:18 am
PG&E Electric Rates and EVs
April 10th, 2011 at 10:04 am
Plug Bug: DC-DC Converters
April 12th, 2011 at 8:25 pm
Charger Not Charging
May 18th, 2011 at 9:28 pm
Electric Bug: Driving and watt-hours per mile
May 18th, 2011 at 9:42 pm
Back on the road again
May 29th, 2011 at 6:58 pm
WiSnap + Elithion BMS
May 29th, 2011 at 9:14 pm
Bug at Castle Rock
May 30th, 2011 at 8:36 pm
June 19th, 2011 at 5:53 pm
Plug Bug: Glamor Shots
September 20th, 2011 at 9:30 pm
Bug update: Wheel bearings!
November 13th, 2011 at 9:20 am
Plug Bug: Mileage and Range
November 13th, 2011 at 11:26 pm
Plug In America
December 22nd, 2011 at 10:38 am
EAA Article on the Plug Bug
March 31st, 2012 at 11:30 am
April 20th, 2012 at 7:26 pm
Plug Bug: Burnt plugs
April 20th, 2012 at 9:39 pm
Plug Bug: 15,000 miles then a breakdown
April 29th, 2012 at 2:22 pm
Plug Bug: Running again!
May 5th, 2012 at 7:54 pm
Plug Bug: Broken brake…
May 5th, 2012 at 8:09 pm
Plug Bug: Blower install on the motor
May 28th, 2012 at 12:08 pm
Plug Bug: The Inertia Switch works
May 30th, 2012 at 8:25 pm
Plug Bug: It breaks, I fix it.
May 30th, 2012 at 8:31 pm
Plug Bug: Home J1772 EVSE Charging Station
June 23rd, 2012 at 8:21 am
Plug Bug: PFC-30 Charger Failed Again
September 25th, 2012 at 8:23 pm
More old car work!
November 5th, 2012 at 10:18 pm
Electric Bug: Charger Control – What I want
November 8th, 2012 at 6:48 pm
Electric Bug: Charger Control – Design
November 8th, 2012 at 7:38 pm
EV Converstions and white Clean Air Stickers
November 9th, 2012 at 8:39 am
Elithion BMS Display – part 1
November 14th, 2012 at 9:26 pm
Plug Bug: Charger Control Updates
November 17th, 2012 at 8:40 am
Elithion BMS Display – part 2
November 23rd, 2012 at 11:25 am
Elithion BMS Display – part 3 pictures
November 23rd, 2012 at 11:37 am
How to make an Elithion BMS Display
November 23rd, 2012 at 12:12 pm
BMS Display part 4 – graph
November 25th, 2012 at 8:53 pm
Plug Bug: Transmission replaced
December 31st, 2012 at 11:59 am
Plug Bug: Bad cell
December 31st, 2012 at 12:09 pm
EV Page of Shame: Post 1
March 7th, 2013 at 7:12 pm
Broken EVSE (charging station)
March 8th, 2013 at 8:20 am
Good Times!
June 9th, 2013 at 3:01 pm
Bug Down again.. and don’t use Fortes Brothers Towing in Cupertino!
September 12th, 2013 at 5:09 pm
No Fossil Fuels Sticker
December 20th, 2013 at 12:52 pm
“No Dino” stickers
December 31st, 2013 at 2:02 pm
Plug Bug: New front brake pads
January 14th, 2014 at 7:02 pm
Electric VW Bug: Brushes replaced
August 9th, 2014 at 9:20 pm
Final drive ratio in an electric conversion car
September 4th, 2014 at 6:23 pm
Electric VW: Transmission Killer
September 4th, 2014 at 6:14 pm
Electric Bug: Running Again!
October 25th, 2014 at 6:28 pm
Plug Bug Videos
May 25th, 2015 at 9:06 pm
Plug Bug: Transmission / motor removal in an electric conversion
May 25th, 2015 at 9:32 pm
Plug Bug: Killing Chargepoint Charging Stations
June 5th, 2015 at 6:38 pm
Plug Bug: You are only as strong as your weakest cell
July 13th, 2015 at 9:30 pm
chargepoint energy stats for my bug
July 22nd, 2015 at 8:12 pm
Bug down! Charger broken (again – 3rd time)
July 30th, 2015 at 8:31 pm
Plug Bug: charger repaired; back on the road
August 21st, 2015 at 7:18 pm
Bug transmission down again :(
October 15th, 2015 at 8:02 pm
Tesla OS 7 has serious usability problems combined with a hit from the ugly stick
October 17th, 2015 at 10:12 am
Plug Bug: Try 3 with the transmission
October 25th, 2015 at 6:43 pm
The Electric Bug Chronicles: Window Down
November 13th, 2015 at 6:38 pm
The Electric Bug Chronicles: F – You
November 16th, 2015 at 9:17 am
The Electric Bug Chronicles: Hey, Don’t Pull Him Over!
November 17th, 2015 at 9:59 am
The Electric Bug Chronicles: You’re kicked out!
November 18th, 2015 at 8:58 am
The Electric Bug Chronicles: Cops.
November 19th, 2015 at 7:52 am
The Electric Bug Chronicles: Yeah, those skid marks on Highway 85 are mine…
December 17th, 2015 at 5:17 pm
Plug Bug: Rear bearing replacement and updates
April 22nd, 2016 at 8:22 pm
Plug Bug: The bug is squished… I was rear ended!
October 25th, 2016 at 5:57 pm
Plug Bug: Crash update.
February 7th, 2017 at 7:39 pm
Plug Bug: Working on repairs…
October 26th, 2017 at 11:05 pm
Plug Bug: Transmission Decisions
November 8th, 2017 at 10:01 pm
Plug Bug: Transmission Disassembly
November 13th, 2017 at 7:58 pm
Plug Bug: Transmission/Transaxle Assembly
November 17th, 2017 at 9:47 am
Plug Bug: Rear Apron Mod – make it removable!
November 18th, 2017 at 6:53 pm
Plug Bug: Carpool stickers going bye-bye
January 10th, 2018 at 5:53 am
Plug Bug: Fixed, and then broken again
January 10th, 2018 at 5:54 am
Plug Bug: VW Transmission Disassembly (DIY Complete “Tutorial”)
December 21st, 2018 at 10:08 am
“The Verge” Blatantly Violates Copyright Laws for Profit
August 8th, 2019 at 9:19 pm
SOLD: The Plug Bug – 1969 VW Beetle Electric Conversion
June 29th, 2023 at 12:27 pm

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