• Sep 15th 2007 at 11:53AM
  • 29
High fuel prices have started to change the way Americans look at transportation, and several automakers are rushing to market smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles onto US roads. Daimler Benz is in the final stages of launching the Smart fortwo city car here in the US, and Volkswagen is looking at entering the fray with their own mini compact, the Up!. The stylish Up! was unveiled in Frankfurt on Monday, and Adrian Hallmark, head of Volkswagen of America, has already informed Wolfsburg that the US market is interested.

It's hard to gauge how the fortwo will do here in the States due to its freakishly small size and seating for only two, but the VW Up! concept has a rear-engine, rear drive configuration with room for four. A sedan with roughly the same amount of interior space as a previous generation Golf will likely be available for US consumers if the vehicle goes to production in the next few years. We just hope VW can achieve incredible fuel economy with the good looks of the concept, while offering the Up! at the low prices that once made the original Beetle such a smash hit.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'd be glad to own one of these, unless the pricing will be decend.
      At the IAA I just read it'll go down to 100 mpg with a small 3cyl diesel like its precessor did: The Lupo. Hope this one makes it to the market soon!
        • 7 Years Ago
        "Volkswagen will am Ende dieses Jahrzehnts ein Auto anbieten, das auf 100 Kilometern nur einen Liter Benzin verbraucht. "Wir wollen das Ein-Liter-Auto 2010 auf den Markt bringen", sagte VW-Aufsichtsratschef Ferdinand Piƫch der "Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung" am Rande der IAA"

        I guess we'll have to wait two years to find out at the next show.
        • 7 Years Ago
        the head of vw also indicated there will be two more concepts show on this platform at the next to international auto show - and that vw will bring a 250mpg car to market in 2010. I don't think the two statements are unrelated.
        • 7 Years Ago
        250 mpg???

        How on earth will they realize that one? That's 1.0l/100km for in metrics. That's really heavy only one concept car reached so far ... and that one was a three-wheeled two seater. Maybe they've got some hybrid or purely electrical miracle in mind.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "What helps is that there'll be a law which will force all car makers to deliver all their cars with ESP."

      And help to make them more expensive. Why not try to use the onboard ESP every vehicle on the road already has? You know, the one between your ears.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I agree. There are a lot of crazy laws out which make it impossible to built the top of efficiency. Talk about crash security. The whole bunch of steel that's needed to enforce a midsize car structure since the 1980s sums up to at least 80kg.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The news that VW is going back to rear engines will perplex many former Beetle owners, nearly all of whom have spun their car at least once.

      I'll be surprised if the Up! has much luggage space with a motor in back and a radiator up front.
        • 7 Years Ago

        There is nothing wrong with RWD, in fact it is superior.
        The only reason car manufacturers moved to FWD was
        to build cars cheaply. How do you think your parents
        got around?

        Now, rear-engined is another story, however Porsche
        seems to have done well with it.

        • 7 Years Ago
        It won't need a front radiator as far as I had seen at the IAA. The radiator is hidden in the back.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Have done some pretty crazy things in the 5 air-cooled beetles and 1 bus I have owned. Spinning is not one of those things.
        • 7 Years Ago
        "former Beetle owners, nearly all of whom have spun their car at least once."

        They probably have better driving skills now. I never did "spun" my Squareback.

      • 7 Years Ago
      And about time! I would love to own a cheap, small car for driving to work and back from the Chicago suburbs. With the most expensive gas in the US, small would rule!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Great, a German kei car for the US.
      Would be great to have something like that for 7k or 9k. A simple and economic car, more than that will be difficult to choose a car like that if you can buy a rabbit for 15k and something.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Bring it on - I will love it if they price it right (and give it another name). You will NEVER see me in a Smart though - those putrid things are flippin' ghey.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Tall cars with short wheelbase and a flat rear tend to handle poorly and have poor aerodynamics.

      They are easy to park and to enter/exit.

      Fine for city cars, weak for higher speeds.

      I'd prefer a lower car shaped like my Miata but with a more fuel efficient drivetrain.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Nice concept for Europe since they have astronomical gas prices.

      Will never sell in the United States while gas is under $5/gal. Just as the BMW 1 series is too budget looking and probably won't break sales records, so goes this small VW. At least the 1-series has respectable performance. Then again, people buy the Toyota Pruis which is uglier than sin. I'm a Toyota fan and I hate that car!!!
        • 7 Years Ago
        considering the major market seeing massive growth in the us is the compact/subcompact with great mpg sector, i'm curious why you're indicating this will fail, as small cars with great mpg are already selling exceedingly well and showing fantastic growth. then again, that's the actual market, and not my personal opinion... so i guess everyone is entitled to their own, ignorant of actual market conditions - though I do love obscure predictions linked to round numbers!
        • 7 Years Ago
        what wrong with the u.s. small car does not mean cheap.

        VW probably will make two version.

        One version with many engine choice from gas frugal engine to performance engine. Many trim level from basic to luxury. This version will be sold to everywhere including Canada except u.s.

        Another version will be a average engine a good balance of performance and gas mileage and sold only to American. Since the American want performance but still want to look like they care about gas price(but in reality they don't care about the gas mileage if it means to sacrifice performace). The car will be trim cheaply and budget looking since they don't want to confuse American buyer(because American think small car equal to cheap and uncomfortable since most American are obese. Also American like lots of horse power so they drive very fast and kill themselves very quickly.).

        For people who want amazing gas mileage but sports car like performance then too bad since it does not exist with internal combustion engine.
          • 7 Years Ago
          Jorge I agree with all of your comments.

          To add to that, the United States is full of a bunch of overweight, egocentric, spoiled brats that would rather drive their rediculous oversized, gas guzzling SUVs down the street at the cost of the rest of the world. They think they are entitled to have gas that is cheaper and if it ever rises over 5.00 gal, prepare to see more wars courtesy of "for the people by the people". The government just follows the wishes of the people that vote for them. Just wait until this housing ordeal unravels and puts the economy in the drain. Sad thing is that once again, the U.S. people that never take responsibility for their own actions will impact economies in the rest of the world too...
      • 7 Years Ago
      For reference:

      x L/100km = 235.21/x MPGus (NEDC)

      Note, however, that the Lupo got 3 L/100km on diesel. US numbers are always translated to gasoline equivalent, so you need to reduce the result by 12% - more if you assume any US version will feature a spark ignition engine instead. Moreover, EPA test cycles and NHTSA crash safety rules conspire to reduce fuel economy by an additional ~8% (EPA old) and ~22% (EPA new), relative to the NEDC.

      The completely unrelated 1 L/100km car was a vanity engineering project by Dr. Ferdinand Piech, formerly CEO and now Chairman of the Board at VW AG. The concept involved a 300cc single-cylinder diesel engine, a narrow tandem seating configuration, an extremely low seating position and extensive use of expensive materials such as carbon fiber to keep the weight down. Think of it as a modern take on the Messerschmitt Kabinenroller of the 1950s. Rumor has it that Piech would like to revive that project because he claims to have found a supplier of cheap carbon fiber.

        • 7 Years Ago
        "Rumor has it that Piech would like to revive that project because he claims to have found a supplier of cheap carbon fiber."

        Erm... it's not a rumor, he stated publicly, as i've already indicated, that vw will bring such a car to market by 2010, and given they've hinted this is the platform to bring said car to fruition, i doubt it's unrelated (again as we've already addressed on page one).
      • 7 Years Ago
      Power steering was an option and so were power brakes prior to the mid eighties. A light rear wheel drive don't need PS. Unlike the original Beetle, this car will have leg room and certainly be safer. Unfortunately there will be those who buy it and then demand VW make it bigger. Hopefully, VW won't.
        • 7 Years Ago
        RicardoHead @ Sep 15th 2007 9:47PM

        And this has to do with VW rear wheel drive in what respect?
        • 7 Years Ago
        ToyotaLuver, if the rest of the world stops building economies entirely dependent upon sales to the USA, then the rest of the world would not be impacted by our "irresponisbility," would it?
      • 7 Years Ago
      If it's offered at under $10k, then it should sell fairly well for a small car. Maybe 20,000 units.

      Remember, nearly everyone driving today in the US can remember paying .89 cents a gallon for gas at some point. I'm only 23, yet I remember paying that much in my first car. So the $3.00+/gal range is very high compared to what most of use have spent on gas.

      I think they should just make it more like the old Beetle in looks, and market it as that. You can easily find thousands of those things in any city, decades after they stopped being sold in the US. A very low priced car, good mileage, and decent styling, and it will do just fine.

      Whether I would buy one depends on the availability of a manual transmission-equipped model, without going to a non-A/C, non-radio/CD player stripper. A 3 cylinder diesel engine mated to that stick shift would seal it, if I could get it in at around $13-15k.
        • 7 Years Ago
        True, though I doubt power steering is really necessary for a car this size. Yes, I've had manual steering vehicles, a '53 Studebaker and a '69 Dodge 1/2 ton truck. Both weren't hard to steer, though parking can be a *****.

        Modern suspension setups, better manual steering, etc... will work to keep it able to handle, and will likely deal with the old rear engine problem of snap over steer as well. Remember, Motor Trend's "Best Handling Car of 2006" (IIRC, forget the year) is a rear-engined car. With piss poor weight distribution to boot.

        It's a direction everyone should be headed in; smaller, highly fuel efficient cars that come in cheap. You can't buy a Smart cheap enough for most people to justify it, and that's where a lot of the smaller cars get hurt. Why buy an Aveo if the Cobalt looks better (back in '06 when I bought mine), has more room, and only has slightly lower EPA numbers (and mine still beats the Aveo's EPA estimates on top of it all in the real world. 34mpg average FTW!).

        As far as safety, if the Smart can be made to comply with US regulations, then I have no doubt that this can as well.

        The issue with our roads and drivers are a lack of training and enforcement, as well as bad government spending on needless projects. Memphis' mayor has spent $140,000 on a study on a new football arena, which we don't need. After his mismanagement, we have two arenas still being paid for and not being used, and we wasted more millions on a baseball stadium for a losing third class team, and even more millions for the losingest team in the NBA. Those millions could have been better put to use by repairing roads and hiring more police. At the very least, enforcing stricter driver training programs over the norm in the US.

        Put shortly, this car can be made to meet US regulations. It probably already does, if it's planned for Europe. I seriously doubt Europeans, especially Germany, allow for seriously less safe vehicles compared to the US. Though they are allowing Chinese-built anythings there.

        As long as it can be brought over at a sub $10,000US price point, then it can and will sell. It won't sell in vast numbers, no. Don't look for 100,000 units in one year, maybe a quarter of that IMO. But it will sell.
        • 7 Years Ago
        At my first job in ( a gas station), gasoline was $0.21 per gallon and cigarettes were $0.25 a pack. Of course that was in the last century. :>)
      • 7 Years Ago
      "The government just follows the wishes of the people that vote for them."

      And you would have them do what?
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