The Trabant Is Getting The Phoenix Treatment
Filed in Innovations
The Trabant is a vehicle with a quirky place in the German culture. I remember them very well from my youth. They were everywhere in the East in those days, although it is rare to see them on the roads now.
People loved them and hated them. On one hand, the cars didn’t always work very well, and they came in ridiculous colors. On the other hand, the waiting lists were always long, and owners of “Trabis” often nicknamed them and treated them like beloved if eccentric family members.
However, after the Wall came down, the East German cars were outmatched by Western competitors that were faster, more reliable, and easier to get. The last Trabant was manufactured in 1991.
Since then, Trabi lovers have had to make do with museums and car rallies.
There are surprisingly large number of them. The most famous Trabant museum is the August Horch Museum, located in the Detroit of East Germany, Zwickau. It was totally updated in 2004 to feature more information on the history and culture of the Trabant, along with other German classic cars.
A rising tide of visitors and enthusiasts holding rallies led to a quick survey at the 2007 Frankfurt motor show. Out of 11,500 people surveyed, 93% were in favor of reviving the Trabant. Many even volunteered that they would buy one, prompting companies to look at bringing the suddenly beloved Trabi back from the dead.
Out of all this chatter have come rumors, whispers, and suddenly… official plans. The Trabant NT should be arriving in showrooms in 2012. A prototype will be shown at various auto shows around Germany this fall — including the Internationale Automobilausstelling (IAA) or Frankfurt Motor Show (TODAY!).
The cars will be made by the East German manufacturer Indikar, also based out of Zwickau. They are hoping to seriously improve on the old Trabants, without compromising the features that made them popular. The new version won’t spew diesel and sputter — Indikar is planning to make them all-electric cars with solar panel roofs (great!).
We’ll see if its enough to make a bright new Trabant loving culture spring up from the ashes of the old one! :-)
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