Volkswagen up! Concept Series

It’s hard to keep up with the Volkswagen up! concept car. In two-and-half-years, the microcar has been unveiled as a better Smart ForTwo, a family of mini cars, an all-electric car, and most recently a lightweight diesel hybrid. VW talks about putting the car into production in a few years, but with each new iteration the timeline moves further back.

When the up! showed up at auto shows in 2007, the micro-car was used as a counterpoint to the company’s clean diesels (on the way at the time). Here was VW’s chance to talk about a small car that could get close to 80 mpg. The vision of a better microcar—with a sleeker design, better handling and higher fuel efficiency than the Smart ForTwo—was enhanced with the proposal that there would be an array of up! variants, including a short-wheelbase 3-door hatchback and a long wheelbase 5-door hatchback—as well as a sedan, convertible and crossover. The concept 3-door Volkswagen up! was 135 inches long, while the 4-door variant was 141.7 inches. There was also talk of gas, diesel and fuel cell powertrain options.

By the time the up! hit the Los Angeles auto show later in 2007, it had become the “space up! blue,” a mini minivan measuring 145 inches long, and boasting interior space comparable to a much larger vehicle. It was presented as an all-electric vehicle capable of a 65-mile range, or a fuel cell microvan with 220 miles of driving, with help from a rooftop solar panel.

Right around that time, UK’s Autocar awarded the up! as the concept car of the year. Autocar editor Charles Hallett said the up! was “a brilliant concept car, but importantly a concept car that will become a reality.” Car and Driver said it was certainly heading to the United States.

Moving Target

The car reemerged—transformed into an electric car and re-named the e-up!—for the 2009 Frankfurt auto show. The rumored production schedule for the electric up! is around 2013. The e-up! takes the form of a 10.5 foot minicar that seats four—three in front and one in back. Top speed is less than 85 miles per hour, with a 0-60 mph pace of about 11 seconds. The e-up! weighs about 2,400 pounds—with more than 500 pounds coming from the 18 kWh battery pack that can deliver about 80 miles of range from a single charge. The driver activates forward or reverse gear via a rotary knob in the center console.

Automotive News reported that a slightly larger version was being considered for the US market, sometime after a European introduction.

VW suggested that the E-up! could be the “Beetle for the 21st Century,” the same reference it had made from the earliest concept version two years earlier. The VW logo on the V-shaped engine bonnet of the e-up! is more than just an homage to the Beetle. Hidden behind the folding logo is the integrated port for charging the batteries. The concept car has a touch-screen interface that monitors battery state of charge, provides traffic data, and locates available charging stations.

A Game of One (More) Upmanship

up! lite

Vw up! lite

A couple of months later, the up! showed up at the 2009 Los Angeles auto show, this time as the “up! lite.” This version of the up! combines a lightweight aluminum body, tiny 0.8-liter turbo-diesel engine, electric motor and 7-speed direct shift gearbox to produce a small sporty diesel-hybrid capable of nearly 100 miles to the gallon, according to Volkswagen. VW calls it “the world’s most environmentally friendly four-seat car.”

So folks, take your pick of which up! concept you like the best. Some form of one of them could go into production, if VW delivers on its promise to introduce a “new small family” microcar sometime around 2011.

 


  • ms

    VW has great ideas, but i can only see concepts.

    Its time to take a decision on assembling at least one of the concepts.

    They are turning experts on marketing, with no news.

  • Mr. Fusion

    Next:

    step up!
    up yours!
    shut the #$%^ up!

    Make a car already…
    …Or is this up! going the way of the:

    -1989 VW Futura
    -2000 VW Beetle Dune
    -2000 VW AAC
    -2002 VW 21st Century Bus

  • Joe Dirt

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  • nasser

    hi i would like to say to u thet vw makes loads of cheap cars they made the bugati veyron and the w12 but they make concept cars thats why they are makeing bad cars

  • Elliot

    I find the Volvo news much more exciting. Why? Because this would be really something if it was the first time we heard it. But VW is always coming out with a prototype for something. But where are the cars? Yes, the new diesel jetta is nice, but I feel like VW is purposefully dragging their feet in the ev/hybrid arena.

  • Shines

    How about this VW? An air-cooled clean-diesel plug-in hybrid sports-wagon. You could call it the Up Chuck… ;-p

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  • Ken Furra

    The VW Space Up Blue has my attention. That’s the only thing that can get me to give up my Vanagon Carat.

  • Shiloh Street

    Wow VW really steps up on their designs, good job guys i love the concept.

  • dorran

    I’ve heard everything there is to know about these cars but I didn’t hear enough about their safety features. Are there any? It would help me know more about this, this way I have an extra chance to get car insurance quotes that fit my pocket.

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