If you recall, Volkswagen introduced its Up! Lite concept at the Los Angeles Auto Show last year. The Up! Lite was constructed from lightweight materials like aluminum and carbon-fiber that contributed to a curb weight of just 1,530 pounds. Additionally, the sinister-looking concept was powered by an extraordinarily efficient 800cc, two-cylinder common-rail diesel engine fitted to a seven-speed DSG dual clutch gearbox and mated up with the standard hybrid bits such as an electric motor and a battery pack.
With all the technological marvels packed into a lightweight vehicle, VW claimed that the Up! Lite would hit a combined average of 70 miles per gallon. When we first laid eyes on the Up! Lite's spec sheet, we remarked, "should Volkswagen decide to green light the unfortunately named Up! Lite, it would be the most fuel efficient and environmentally friendly four seat vehicle on the planet."
Unfortunately, our chances of seeing a production Up! Lite – or, for that matter, any diesel hybrid from VW – have been all but wiped out by a few words from a VW spokesman who recently told Autocar that "diesel hybrids still don't make good business sense." The company spokesman went on by stating:
All hope is not lost though, as VW's development chief, Ulrich Hackenburg, did suggest that the concept's diesel-electric setup could be scaled up to bigger cars. However, that also means more expensive and less fuel-efficient, so we're not quite as stoked about a full-size diesel-electric car as we were about the Up! Lite.The higher cost of clean diesel technology would make them even more expensive than petrol-electric cars. The markets where hybrids are most popular are also the ones where diesels are least popular.