August 17, 2009

Smoke-Belching East German Car To Make Green Return

A vehicle long associated with the communist regime of East Germany is expected to make its triumphant return in a more eco-friendly form.

Built in the German town of Zwickau, the Trabant was the first car available in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The first Trabant was built in 1957, and the company stopped production of the model in 1991.

But the new Trabant, named the Trabant NT, will be different from its predecessor in that its former two-stroke engine will be replaced by electric fuel cells and solar-powered air-conditioning.

The first idea for the Trabant NT came from a collaborative effort between Herpa Miniaturmodelle and auto company IndiKar. Those firms are seeking to raise funding for the new car alongside German engineering company IAV, according to BBC News.

"The original Trabant was a small, stinky car," Daniel Stiegler, of Herpa, told the BBC. "Now we have an e-Trabant which is ecological and economical."

"It will be an electric car with a solar panel roof, designed for the city and small trips," said Ronald Gerschewski, head of IndiKar.

"Inside, there will be connections for a sat-nav, mobile phone and iPod," he added.

The group plans to exhibit the new formation of the Trabant at this year's international motor show at Frankfurt in September.

Last year, developers were encouraged by the response to a possible Trabant rebirth by visitors to the motor show.

"We had a special folder where people at the fair could fill out and give it back to use. We had about 14,000 reactions on that, and most of them, 90 percent, said 'Yes, the Trabant is a really cool car, let's bring it back,'" Stiegler told CNN.

However, IndiKar claims the new Trabant "will not be a retro model," IndiKar said, but a "green and refreshing novelty."

IndiKar and Herpa hope to gain enough interest and support to produce the vehicle commercially by 2012.


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