Toymaker Revives Trabant with Pure Electric Concept at Frankfurt Show, Could go on Sale in 2012

By far the strangest story to come out of this year's Frankfurt Motor Show is the resurrection of the long-gone Trabant nameplate with the presentation of a pure-electric concept model shown by German toycar manufacturer Herpa Miniaturmodelle. The original Trabant was produced by former Eastern German auto maker VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke with minor changes for almost three decades. A little over three million examples of the car were built between 1957 and 1991.

Unlike the original model with its smoky two-stroke, two-cylinder engine (funny how nostalgia can "smog" memories...) , the 'New Trabi' prototype in Frankfurt gets an all-electric drivetrain. Herpa did not release any technical details on the concept car other that it has a rooftop solar panel to help recharge its batteries, a range of aroun 250 kilometers or155 miles and a kerb weight of under 1,000kg or 2,200 lbs.

The concept Trabi, which features a similar (retro) design philosophy to the BMW Group's MINI, was built with the help of IndiKar, a German company that manufactures individual car bodies as well as prototypes.

"We are past the vision– we are in the implementation phase", said IndiKar CEO, Ronald Gerschewski, who is one of the chief initiators for the vehicle's development. "Our goal is the series-production-readiness."

Herpa, which bought the Trabant copyright in 2007, said that the concept is "sound and ready for a strong investor to become involved in the serial design and production", and that if all goes well, the electric vehicle could go on sale in 2012.