Some kids from the Show Me State are certainly showing us how it's done with this converted, all-electric Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. In this case, a group of at-risk teens converted one of the classic VW compacts to all-electric power. It was unveiled at the Kansas City International Autoshow last week.

The teens are part of a group called Minddrive, and the '67 VW is the third car they've converted to an all-electric drivetrain. Minddrive has also built a battery-electric prototype called the Lola EV off of an Indy Car chassis and took a converted 1977 Lotus Esprit across the country. The Karmann Ghia has a 30-mile single-charge range and tops out at 45 miles per hour.

Minddrive, a nonprofit, gets funding from Hertz and fast-food restaurant operator Sonic, among other entities. The conversion program isn't just pure learning lessons, since the group is looking to produce enough kit parts for one EV conversion a month. For more on the Karmann Ghia converstion, check out Minddrive's press release and two videos, one a time-lapse of the Lola build, below.

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MINDDRIVE Debuts Their Electric Karmann Ghia at the Kansas City Auto Show

High school students from the urban core of Kansas City, through a hands-on experiential learning program called MINDDRIVE built the converted, fully electric Karmann Ghia. It makes its debut at the Kansas City International Auto Show and is getting rave reviews by the public.

Kansas City, Missouri (PRWEB) March 09, 2013

MINDDRIVE, a not-for-profit organization in Kansas City, Missouri, is showing three electric cars at this year's Auto Show, all built by at-risk teens taking part in the program hailing from five different schools from the urban core of the city.

The belle of the ball is their latest creation, the fully converted, 1967 turned 2013 electric Karmann Ghia. It was designed, in concept, to be a neighborhood or village car with a top speed of 45 miles per hour and a short range of approximately 30 miles on a charge.

"It's the perfect car for a city like Kansas City", says MINDDRIVE CEO, Steve Rees. "Our city is built on neighborhoods which are very self-sustaining in terms of having everything you need within a 10-mile radius of where you live."

The students first took the car completely apart to assess what could be salvaged and what needed to be replaced. Repairing, sanding, priming and then applying a beautiful new coat of paint meticulously reconditioned the body. The students and their mentors have replaced all of the critical components of the car, including the steering, suspension, and brakes.

Our goal is to create a lightweight proto-type with a fiberglass body and plywood monocoque structure that will allow the vehicle to be built simply and efficiently.
We plan to produce one car a month as a low-production kit car for sale to the public. The car will operate on 6, 12-volt batteries producing 72 volts.

The other two cars on display through the weekend Auto Show are the fully converted electric Lotus, which the students and mentors took on a coast-to-coast journey from San Diego, CA to Jacksonville, FL last June, and a proto-type car named "Lola", which is built using an Indy Champ car chassis. Lola is an ultra-lightweight, efficient concept car that achieved over 300 miles per gallon equivalent during testing

MINDDRIVE is a teaching concept based on experiential, hands-on learning, along with a robust mentoring ratio of approximately one mentor per student. The program focuses on teaching STEM principles of math, science and technology to students who are struggling in the traditional school system but find learning easier through this hands-on approach.

The program exposes the students to many walks of life and a wide variety of careers through the relationships built with their mentors. They then become more engaged in their core subjects at school because they understand what's needed to pursue either a higher education or career path.


MINDDRIVE'S mission is to inspire students to learn, expand their vision of the future, and to have a positive impact on urban workforce development. The program is funded through the national sponsorships of Hertz, Sonic America's Drive-In, KCPL and through local foundations and individual contributors. For more information, contact Linda Buchner at 816-916-4111 or Linda(at)minddrive(dot)org

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    • 1 Second Ago
      Rob J
      • 1 Year Ago
      The engineers at my university were pretty big on their converted VW bug. Something about old VWs and students seems to click.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rob J
        Old VWs are extremely simple to work on.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rob J
        The VW bug is lightweight and has lots of built in advantages that make it a good platform for conversion. First off older bugs don't have power steering or power brakes, A/C, or power anything, so you don't have to figure out how to power them without the gas motor. Next, highway acceleration, the top speed, and the heater all suck in old bugs anyways, so you aren't missing much in a cheap EV conversion. Finally, 2 regular people can pull the engine out of a VW by hand, using nothing more complicated than a jack. So it is easy to work on. There are lots of aftermarket parts and kits available because it is so easy to work on yourself. Here are a couple of kits:
      Actionable Mango
      • 1 Year Ago
      "tops out at 45 miles per hour" Oh, so it's just as powerful as the normal Karmann Ghia! I kid, I kid.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Imagine how big a battery pack they could have put in if they used a VW Thing!
        • 1 Year Ago
        @MTN RANGER
        You can see my "In Progress" VW Thing Conversion at