The iconic Meyers Manx is coming back for the third time, now as a pure electric vehicle. No, it’s not the ID Buggy concept Volkswagen cruelly teased us with a few years ago before crushing our dreams, it’s an all-new model from the original outfit. Meet the Meyers Manx 2.0 Electric.
The EV dune buggy is being produced in California by the Meyers Manx company in partnership with “a U.S.-based manufacturing entity.” Manx fans will know that founder Bruce Meyers died in February 2021 at age 94, and a year prior had sold his eponymous company to Trousdale Ventures to ensure its continuation after his passing. Trousdale founder and Meyers Manx chairman Phillip Sarofim hired legendary car designer Freeman Thomas, who penned the Volkswagen New Beetle among other notable projects, to create this next-generation Manx EV.
Thomas’ work is very true to the original while including modern components and working around a significantly different drivetrain. Even so, it likely has more in common with the original Manx than the later models you know. The first Manx featured a custom fiberglass monocoque body with embedded steel mounting points and reinforcements. Too expensive to mass produce, Meyers switched to using a shortened Volkswagen Beetle platform with a fiberglass body after 12 unprofitable cars were built.
This new model utilizes an aluminum monocoque covered with a body made of a material not specified in the press release, though we’re told the roof is at least is carbon fiber. Indeed, a number of technical details are unclear or unannounced at this time. Regardless, hidden somewhere under the retro bodywork is a choice of two battery packs, one 20 kWh and one 40 kWh. Those are small by EV standards, but unlike a Tesla, the Manx 2.0 Electric only weighs an estimated 1,500 to 1,650 pounds depending on battery size. Based on a development mule shown, the batteries and motors appear to be packed under the cargo area with the batteries ahead of the rear axle and the motors behind.
Thanks to its low weight, Meyers Manx estimates the buggy will go 150 miles with the small battery and 300 miles with the big battery. A Level 2 (6 kW) onboard charger is standard and DC Fast charging capability are optional, though only at 60 kW. Here again, the stats are unimpressive for a road-going EV, but the Manx 2.0 Electric’s batteries are so small they shouldn’t take too long to charge even at those speeds. We can’t say for sure, though, because the company has not shared charging times.
Regardless of battery size, power will be sent to a pair of electric motors mounted on the rear axle, one driving each rear wheel for precise traction control and torque vectoring. Meyers Manx doesn’t have specs on the motors paired with the smaller 20 kWh battery but says 40 kWh model will put out 202 horsepower and “up to” 240 pound-feet of torque and will hit 60 mph in an estimated 4.5 seconds.
Like the original, the Manx 2.0 Electric will feature independent front and rear suspension, but we don’t have any details on the design used. Inspecting the prototype, we see a trailing arm front suspension lifted from the original air-cooled Beetles and the original Manx. The rear, however, is a modern multi-link design rather than an old swing arm setup. Both look to have plenty of travel as an off-roader should, but the company hasn’t provided those specs or official ground clearance. In the rear, the motors point towards each other and share a common housing, putting their output shafts in the center of the vehicle. This requires long axle half-shafts but gives the rear suspension a greater range of travel without binding the CV joints.
Unlike the old Beetle-based kit car, this new one features disc brakes all around instead of drums and also adds regenerative braking on the rear axle, not to mention an electric parking brake. Up front, the Manx 2.0 Electric gets electric power steering and even windshield wipers.
In all the most important ways, though, it’s true to the original. It’s rear-wheel drive, has knobby off-road tires, seats two, and the roof comes off. Inside, the seats appear to be wrapped in a vintage tweed pattern and the minimalist dashboard features a single retro-modern round gauge with a small digital display in the center. The roof is a single piece that can tilt upwards and forward to allow access to the cargo area or lifts off the car completely and get left in the garage. Like in the old days, there are no doors. There’s no lockable interior storage, and the space under the hood is almost entirely taken up by a spare tire and nesting tool kit similar to those offered on original Beetles decades ago.
While it doesn’t have doors or windows, we’re told the company still intends it to be street-legal under the Low Volume Vehicle Manufacturers Act. This allows specialty automakers selling fewer than 325 vehicles per year to do so without having to comply with crash testing and other costly regulations.
The biggest unanswered question we have is what the price tag will be for this adult-sized beach toy. Meyers Manx says they haven’t released the price yet, but if you don’t care and want to get your name on the list now, reservations will open on the company’s website after the car’s public debut at The Quail show on Friday, August 19, during Monterey Car Week. Deliveries will start in 2024.