Emmanuel Thomas I Thursday, May 25, 2023
DRESDEN – The rise of electromobility would appear to know no boundaries and has now even crossed the former Iron Curtain to power a decades-old Trabant, the 1980s car traditionally known for spluttering diesel fumes around what was then Communist East Germany.
An electric “Trabi” is on display at the transport museum in the eastern German city of Dresden from May 16 to June 11, joining the museum’s many centuries-old exhibits on rail travel, shipping, road and air traffic.
But the electric Trabant is not just another model in the post-Tesla wave of battery-powered cars, and this car was converted into an electric vehicle back in 1993 by chemist Dr Dieter Schulze, according to a spokesman for the Dresden Verkehrsmuseum (“Transport Museum”).
The Trabant has a range of 30 kilometres and solar cells mounted on the roof, which extend the range by 10 kilometres when the sun is shining.
Although many electric models today have ranges beyond 500 kilometres, the Trabant’s range of 30-40 kilometres was impressive for a car that was retrofitted just three years after the Berlin Wall fell, at the height of diesel-powered mobility in Germany.
As early as 1968, Schulze converted a Trabi into an electric vehicle using two electric motors from GDR electric postal vehicles and a lead battery for forklift trucks.
His hope was to use it to get to his work at the city’s transport college more quickly and cheaply than by tram.
Schulze sold the car to his neighbour in 2013, who has now donated the electric Trabi to the Dresden transport museum.