Volkswagen Up! - Click above for high-res image gallery
We just learned about a project from Audi that resulted in an experimental lightweight S5 that was capable of lapping the famed Nürburgring racetrack in Germany eight seconds quicker than the normal S5, despite having a 100 horsepower disadvantage. It seems that a number of other automakers are also in on the project, including Renault, Volvo, Opel, Daimler and Volkswagen, Audi's parent company.
VW reportedly assembled three separate five-door Golf bodyshells, one solely using steel, one using a mixture of low-cost materials and one using nothing but exotic, high-tech materials. According to Autocar in the UK, these concepts reduced the overall weight of the Golf's shell by between 20- and 41-percent, with the best combination of price and weight savings boasting a 30-percent weight reduction.
Besides the desirable weight loss program, these shells also needed to be at least as safe as a standard steel bodyshell and be viable for mass production. The first production vehicles using this innovative process are expected in 2012.