Volkswagen has just taken the cover off an all-new concept called the Up! Lite, a sinister looking diesel hybrid that gets (according to VW) 70 mpg combined. As in both City and Highway. Impressive, even if that only ends up being 90 percent accurate. In fact, 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. Again, if the Up! Lite comes to fruition, we'll all be impressed. Interestingly, this concept isn't the most fuel efficient and environmentally friendly car on earth is because another Volkswagen -- the L1 from Frankfurt – is. But it only seats two.
Ready for the good parts? The aptly titled Up! Lite barely tips the scales at 1,530 pounds. There are Honda Goldwings flirting with that weight class. This svelteness is achieved via a mix of aluminum, lightweight steel and carbon fiber. For instance, the roof is made entirely from the expensive weave. And those amazing wheels consist of ten carbon-fiber spokes and an aluminum fairing. Nifty, no? The tiny, stylized winglettes replace conventional rearview mirrors and contain cameras instead of reflective glass. The same holds true for the interior mounted mirror, as has been replaced by a camera.
Up front, there's an active air dam that opens up as needed. The extra cooling will help out the TDI hybrid drive lifted from the two-seater L1. This 800cc powerplant transmits power to the wheels using a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox. Even though the diesel engine is teeny, when coupled to the electric motor, the Up! Lite can reach 100 mph and hit 60 mph in 12 seconds. Not fast by any means, but good enough – especially for an ultra-high mileage vehicle. And it can haul stuff, too – including humans. Unlike the Up! Concept we saw in Frankfurt, the Up! Lite seats four people, and with the rear seats folded, it can haul 30 cubic feet of stuff. Not bad at all.
Overall, we're pretty impressed by the looks and promise of the Up! Lite. In our estimation, there's absolutely nothing wrong with blending a Honda CRX with a Volvo C30. Will the Up! Lite ever make it to production? Who knows. VW claims the first Up!s(?) will go on sale in 2011. We get the sense that any future decision will be based on how the two-door Up! does. But we get the feeling the Up! Lite might give the people more of what they want. Official press release after the jump.
Volkswagen Announces World Premiere of the Up! Lite Concept at the Los Angeles Auto Show
The World's Most Fuel-Efficient Four Seater
- Volkswagen's Up! Lite concept consumes just 2.44 l/100 km (70 mpg/highway)
- Concept based on the future New Small Family from Volkswagen
Wolfsburg, Germany / Los Angeles, CA -- December 2, 2009 -- Volkswagen – Europe's strongest automotive brand – is setting standards worldwide when it comes to efficiency with its clean high-tech TDI and TSI engines. Now this is being followed up by latest coup at the Los Angeles Auto Show (December 4 to 13): the world premiere of the Up! Lite A progressive, fuel efficient and in all details cleverly designed four-seater with a hybrid drive. Combined fuel consumption: 2.44 l/100 km or 70 mpg/highway! No other car is more sustainable. With a drive concept consisting of a TDI (turbo-diesel), electric motor and 7-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) as well as top aerodynamics (Cd value: 0.237), Volkswagen is driving CO2 emissions down to a sensational 65 g/km. This makes the three-door concept the world's most fuel efficient car – and from the perspective of its overall CO2 footprint the world's most environmentally friendly four-seat car as well. Both technically and visually, the Up! Lite is a preview of the future. The image of the car body with its clean lines, as though sculpted from a block of aluminium, underscores just how fascinating a car tuned to aerodynamic perfection can look.
The ideal car for the daily commute to work
The technically challenging 2-Liter fuel consumption car might be launched globally. Many of the components of the 695 kilogram light Volkswagen are based on those of the future New Small Family, an entirely new model series that is already scheduled for market launch in initial countries at the end of 2011. The Up! Lite concept continues the Volkswagen strategy of offering high-tech and high-end quality in all of its vehicle classes, making progress affordable for every car driver. The Up! Lite was designed to be a versatile vehicle that makes trips into the city, commutes to work and naturally long trips as well significantly less expensive and more eco-friendly.
Hybrid drive enables electric driving
The centerpiece of the Up! Lite powertrain is the newly designed 0.8 TDI two-cylinder turbo-diesel engine with a power of 38 kW / 51 PS. Furthermore, the electric motor (10 kW) – designed as a pulse start module (starter, alternator and E-drive) – also reduces the load of the TDI, provides added propulsion (boosting) and works to recover kinetic energy (regenerative braking). During boost phases – e.g. in a quick passing maneuver – the TDI and E-motor combine for a total power of 48 kW / 65 PS. Incidentally, a version of the TDI used in the Up! Lite was also used aboard the L1 concept car that Volkswagen presented in September at the IAA Motor Show in Frankfurt.
In two of its operating phases, the hybrid drive of the Up! Lite was designed to operate without any TDI propulsion at all. First phase: In so-called coast-down, activated by the driver taking his or her foot off the gas pedal (car coasts, TDI engine is shut off). Second phase: Over shorter distances, e.g. in residential areas, the E-motor can power the Up! Lite all by itself. In this case, a lithium-ion battery supplies the energy. Since it is capable of pure electric driving, the configuration is classified as a full hybrid. Shifting work is handled by a 7-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) like the one used in the new Polo. Moreover, the Volkswagen is equipped with a Stop-Start system.
Comfort and safety without compromises
Naturally, on the Up! Lite there is nothing lacking in comfort or safety. ESP is on board, airbags are on board, ample space is on board, highly advanced information and control features are on board, and it is good to know that occupants are enclosed and protected by a highly innovative safety frame of aluminium, steel and carbon fiber. The Volkswagen concept has a top speed of 160 km/h (100 mph) and accelerates to 100 km/h in a respectable 12.5 seconds (0-60 mph in 12 seconds).
"Made in Germany"
Overall, the Up! Lite is a prime example of the art of innovative engineering with the "Made in Germany" seal. And indeed not only because of its efficient powertrain and lightweight body construction. Other examples include: The radiator grille that closes and opens automatically depending on the cooling needs of the engine ("active thermal management"); and instead of a classic rearview mirror, three cameras perform this job better and more aerodynamically; when the car is parked in the summer, hot air is vented to outside the vehicle ("passive park ventilation"); an "optimized Easy-Entry feature" enables extremely comfortable entry and exit from the rear seating area; longitudinal adjustments to the driver and front passenger seats automatically adjusts seat height as well; when folding the rear bench seat, the seatback is easily unlatched by folding the rear head restraints forward ("Easy Switch"); many vehicle features (including ventilation, Internet, telephone, MP3, video, telephone, trip computer, radio) are controlled centrally via an intuitive touchscreen with hand movement sensors.
Design of the world of tomorrow
Even the most innovative car must look good to really be fun. And the Up! Lite with its "Liquid Blue Metallic" exterior is fun. That is because the 3.84 meter long, 1.40 meter tall and 1.60 meter wide Up! Lite makes a futuristic, bold and – in its form – very independent appearance. It is a car that looks as though it were cast from a single mould. Compared to the E-Up! concept car presented at the 2009 International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, it is lower in profile and – to satisfy even more demanding aerodynamic requirements – it is longer, nearly reaching the length of the Polo (3.98 meters).
The styling itself portrays a compact vehicle that genuinely reflects its sustainable drive system and overall progressive concept. At the rear, the Up! Lite has the appearance of a distinctive hatchback sports car. As a result, the broad shoulder section is definitely reminiscent of the Scirocco. Furthermore, the look of the lower area is dominated by the large glass surface of the hatch, the LED rear lights and the rear fog lights (c-shaped) integrated in the bumper in typical Up! style. The counterparts of these lights are found in the front bumper as front fog lights. The car's side profile has clean styling with markedly smooth surfaces. There are no edges except for the upper tornado line, the wheel wells and a connection line integrated there. The side cameras that replace the outside mirrors look like winglets on the wings of a cargo plane. A novel stylistic and technical feature: the 18-inch wheels are produced from a combination of aluminium and carbon fiber. That is because sports appeal and fuel economy do not need to be mutually exclusive.
Already thinking about tomorrow today
By the way: In Europe, Volkswagen is currently demonstrating that minimal fuel consumption can be realized in all segments today, in the latest versions of the Polo (3.3 l/100 km; 58 mpg/highway), Golf (3.8 l/100 km; 51 mpg/highway) and Passat (4.4 l/100 km; 48 mpg/highway).