Volkswagen Up! Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

Here in New York, Volkswagen CEO Stefan Jacoby said the company might be shaking things "Up" again in the States. The on-again, off-again status of the Up! mini-car on these shores is apparently about to go on – again. While the Up! (likely to reintroduce the Lupo nameplate) won't see production until 2012 at the earliest, Jacoby is hinting that it could be on sale here when it debuts: "Up! could be in the future of the market here. In urban areas like New York, a car like Up! has a good chance."

Jacoby, among others, thinks that fuel efficiency will remain a big draw into the future, so cars like the Up! make a lot of sense for VW, returning an anticipated 50 mpg. And that's just in conventional internal-combustion engine configuration. Throw in some of VW's alternative-fuel technology, and that number could go up significantly. "We are looking at second-generation biofuels, electric cars, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and nanotechnology," Jacoby said. That doesn't mean VW thinks the end of the ICE is nigh. When the U.S. market starts to rebound at the end of 2009, Jacoby anticipates a total market of 13 million to 14 million vehicles, the vast majority ICEs.

We've already speculated that the Up! will be produced in India, and that we'll most likely get the roomier Space Up! microvan model rather than the smaller three-door hatch version. We're also hearing that the original Beetle-like rear-engine, rear-drive configuration will be swapped to front/front for production. Engine options are said to range from a 600cc turbo to a 1.2-liter three-cylinder, in gas and diesel forms. Mileage could be as high as 80 miles-per-gallon. If it has any of the driving dynamics that Volkswagen is known for, we can see this being a worthy rival for the Honda Fit and Fiat 500 in the fun little econo car class.

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[Source: Automotive News, sub. req'd.]