According to a trademark application filed in Europe, Volkswagen is still looking into ways to add a dose of adventure to its growing range of electric cars. A request has been made to protect the e-Thing nameplate, which indicates an electric vehicle either inspired or based on the Original Thing (also known as the Type 181).
The European Trademark Office received the request on August 31st The drive. It’s relatively straightforward and isn’t accompanied by a sketch that gives us a better idea of what the Wolfsburg-based company is up to. What is clear is that it is related to the thing that was sold in various global markets from 1968 to 1973.
Based on the Karmann Ghia and powered by the Beetle’s venerable air-cooled four-cylinder, the Thing was an open four-seater with removable doors and a windshield that users could fold down. It wasn’t an off-roader because it was a rear-wheel drive engine. It was available in America in 1973 and 1974 and was closer to beach cars like the Citroën Mehari and Mini Moke than to all-wheel drive vehicles like the Jeep CJ-5.
This is where speculation begins. One possibility is that Volkswagen is about to introduce a modern thing based on its highly modular MEB platform. It would likely sport a retro-inspired design, and there’s a good chance it’ll resonate as an open four-seater like its predecessor. With the ID.Buggy concept introduced in 2019, it could get the ball rolling. As much as we like this option, it’s unlikely at best.
Volkswagen has made it clear that in future all electric concept cars and series models will be grouped under the umbrella of the ID. Recently the ID.3, a Golf hatchback designed primarily for the European market, was unveiled, and the ID.4, a Tiguan-sized crossover for America, was introduced. Even the modern retro bus was part of the ID family. It was previewed by the ID.Buzz concept even though the production name has not yet been set. If a new thing was around the corner, it would probably be called ID.Thing. ID.Thingzz maybe if we take into account the company’s admiration for the last letter of the alphabet.
Another, more realistic possibility is that Volkswagen will electrify a classic car thing. It was already a trademark for the e-Samba and e-Beetle nameplates and unveiled electric variants of the bus and the bug in early 2020. If the drive train – consisting of a 36.8 kilowatt hour battery pack and an electric motor from the e-Up! – fits in a bug, it would be a relatively straightforward process to put it in a thing.
Ultimately, both alternatives could be more or less correct. As we reported recently, an unverified report suggests that Volkswagen is currently developing an electric SUV that puts off-road performance much more of a priority than the ID.4 mentioned above. It will borrow some stylistic elements from the ID.Buggy, and insiders have described it as “cheap to build, easy to clean, flexible, and affordable to run” attributes that set the thing apart. It’s slated to come out in 2023, and if that’s true we’ll look at it as a concept before it ends up in showrooms around the world. It won’t be a retro take on the thing, but it will share some of the model’s DNA.
Volkswagen has not commented on the trademark application. It’s important to remember that automakers routinely protect name badges without planning on using them on a new or old production model.