The Trabant is a car that was produced by former East German auto maker VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke Zwickau in Zwickau, Saxony. It was the most common vehicle in East Germany, and was also exported to countries both inside and outside the communist bloc. The main selling points were that it had room for four adults and luggage in a compact, light and durable shell; it was fast (when introduced); and it was durable.
With its poor performance, outdated and inefficient two-stroke engine (which returned poor fuel economy for the car's size and produced smoky exhaust), and production shortages, the Trabant is often cited as an example of the disadvantages of centralized planning; on the other hand, it is also regarded with derisive affection as a symbol of the failed former East Germany and of the fall of communism (in former West Germany, as many East Germans streamed into West Berlin and West Germany in their Trabants after the opening of the Berlin Wall in 1989). It was in production without any significant changes for nearly 30 years, with 3,096,099 Trabants produced in total. In 2008, Time magazine rated the Trabant as one of the 50 worst cars ever made.
In the West, much has been written about the Trabant, mostly negative. Emphasis was placed on the shortcomings of the Trabant, rather than its good points. However, many of the former owners of the Trabant still emphasize advantages such as high capacity - the Trabant was able to carry over 1000kg of cargo.
The Trabant may be making a modern comeback. The Herpa company, a miniature vehicles manufacturer in Bavaria, bought the rights to the name and showed a scale model of a concept "New Trabi" at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show. Plans for production included a limited run, possibly with a BMW engine.
A new Trabant nT model was unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. The Trabant nT consortium includes Herpa, German specialized auto parts manufacturer IndiKar, and German automobile engineering company IAV. The group is looking for investment, design, production in the Trabant's original home town of Zwickau and sales "in 2012". Even though Trabant doesn't have much of a history of being green, the Trabant nT electric car will be equipped with a 45 kW asynchronous motor powered with a lithium-ion battery. The nT will have a 100-mile (160-km) range on a full charge, a top speed of 80 mph (128 km/h), and a cost of US$29,000 or about €19,600.