Volkswagen may put the power back in the rear of the iconic Beetle by going electric

Volkswagen could have big changes in store for the next generation of the Beetle. The retro styling will remain, but the heritage-laced model might return to its roots and adopt a rear-mounted motor.

No, the next-gen Beetle won't feature a gasoline-burning TSI four-cylinder neatly tucked under the trunk floor. If it goes for the conversion, the model will ride on the MEB platform that Volkswagen is currently developing to underpin an entire lineup of battery-powered models, according to website AutoEvolution. An electric motor is much more compact than a gasoline-powered engine, so going electric would give the Beetle more cabin room than ever before. It would be more practical, too, because it would likely offer a trunk compartment up front -- like the original -- and a smaller compartment right above the motor out back.

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Volkswagen's MEB platform is being designed to handle two motors, so buyers who don't like the idea of a rear-powered, rear-wheel drive modern day Beetle would likely be able to order all-wheel drive at an extra cost. The downside is that the MEB isn't compatible with internal combustion engines. If the Beetle goes electric, motorists who'd prefer to stick with a gas- or diesel-burning model will be entirely out of luck.

A decision on whether the Beetle will switch from gasoline to watts hasn't been made yet. A Volkswagen insider told Digital Trends that the next-gen Beetle will finally switch to the modular MQB platform that's found under countless cars including the Golf and the Audi A3 if it keeps its four-cylinder engine. The MEB platform won't be ready for production until 2020 at the earliest so executives, designers, and bean counters have plenty of time to weigh the pros and cons.

The rumor of an electric Beetle raises more questions than it answers. One thing seems all but certain, though: Volkswagen's retro icon is sticking around for a third generation.