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VW Unveils Up! Lite Concept at LA Show; Diesel Hybrid with Combined Cycle Fuel Consumption of 96 mpg US (70 mpg Highway)

Volkswagen’s Up! Lite concept. Click to enlarge.

Volkswagen staged the world premiere of the Up! Lite concept at the LA Auto Show. The new concept, based on Volkswagen’s New Small Family (the Up! models), incorporates a variation on the two-cylinder TDI hybrid powertrain from the L1 concept unveiled earlier this year at the Frankfurt Motor Show. (Earlier post.)

The door, five-seat concept offers combined EPA cycle fuel consumption of 2.44 L/100km (96 mpg US), with 70 mpg highway. The poewrtrain comprises an 800cc, 2-cylinder TDI (turbo-diesel), electric motor and 7-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG). Combined with aerodynamics of Cd 0.237, the concept has reduced CO2 emissions to 65 g/km.

Many of the components of the 695 kg (1,500 lbs) 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; Volkswagen executives at the show said the Up Lite! might be commercialized.

The newly designed 0.8 TDI two-cylinder turbo-diesel engine delivers power of 38 kW / 51 hp. 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, the TDI and E-motor combine for a total power of 48 kW / 64 hp.

Between 1,800 and 2,250 rpm the 55 kilogram light turbo-diesel direct injection engine delivers 120 N·m (89 l b-ft) maximum torque. Anyone wishing to benefit from the car’s full savings potential and attain a combined fuel consumption value of 2.44 liters will need to press the “Eco” button, activating an operating mode that reduces the engine’s power output to 26 kW / 36 PS.

Since they share a common construction as an engine family, the 0.8 TDI and the 1.6 TDI have an identical cylinder spacing (88 millimeters), identical bore (79.5 millimeters) and stroke (80.5 millimeters). In addition, these TDI engines share important internal engine details for reducing emissions. They include special piston recesses, multiple injection and special tuning of the individual injection jets.

In both cases, the technical package includes exhaust gas recirculation, oxidation catalytic converter and diesel particulate filter. Both TDIs exhibit especially quiet and low-vibration operation thanks to common rail injection. The aluminium crankcase was also built with a high degree of form precision, resulting in very low friction losses.

In two of its operating phases, the hybrid drive of the Up! Lite was designed to operate without any TDI propulsion at all.

  • In coast-down, activated by the driver taking his or her foot off the gas pedal (car coasts, TDI engine is shut off).

  • For shorter distances of up to 2 km (1.2 miles), 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.

The Up! Lite concept features a weight-optimized mix of metals. Click to enlarge.

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.

The car features a 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 12.5 seconds.

The vehicle uses active thermal management with the radiator grille closing and opening automatically depending on the cooling needs of the engine (although te grille failed to open during the demonstration at the unveil). When the car is parked in the summer, hot air is vented to outside the vehicle (passive park ventilation). Instead of a classic rearview mirror, the Up! Lite uses three cameras to perform this function.



impressive concept, but quite a complex power train. Not sure if it can be manufactured at an affordable cost. Anyway it shows that the 100MG is possible for a vehicle that can cover 99% of our need


Nice super light design! The TDI motor would be a great genset.

Why the weak E-motor? How about 1 speed direct drive for highway and a bigger e-motor for city. Maybe they optimized for smallest battery.


Forgot that would also require an extra generator on the engine. So this must be optimized for cost and weight. I just hope the 7 speed is reliable otherwise the cost advantage is lost to the owner. Often transmissions are the least reliable thing in cars these days.


Super! Now if only we could get them to actually produce it out of aluminum and high strength steel, upsize the motor/battery, then at 80+ mpg this will be the efficient car standard bearer for the world - an impressive one off.


VW has already been beat to thier diesel tech being demoed in a hybrid. Do a youtube search for "1.2 tdi insight hybrid" and see what Mike from 99mpg.com has accomplished.

In comparison VW's concept seems a tad lacking.

Account Deleted

It is a technical marvel no doubt. 695 kg is 30% less than the new VW Polo. It is also the best looking vehicle with such a low air drag coefficient (Cd 0.237) that I have seen. It looks like the future. However, I bet it will cost a fortune to build so we should not expect to see a lot of 700 kg cars to be marketed anytime soon. Get it out soon at 900 kg and don’t change anything with regard to design.

There are more pictures here


Take a look at its “side mirrors”.


Would be interesting to add another 2 of the 10 kW motors to the other axle and increase the battery capacity.

An electric motor should be able to do the job of the first 4-5 gears making the transmission much smaller.

Small ICE with larger electric motor and small battery pack should provide the best compromise of performance, costs and fuel efficiency.


Would be interesting to add another 2 of the 10 kW motors to the other axle and increase the battery capacity.

An electric motor should be able to do the job of the first 4-5 gears making the transmission much smaller.

Small ICE with larger electric motor and small battery pack should provide the best compromise of performance, costs and fuel efficiency.


VW seems to have done about every thing right with this concept vehicle.

Lets hope it will be mass produced soon with most of goodies stil on board.

Thomas Pedersen

I think this is a great move forward for autonomous transportation and I applaud VW for making such a vehicle. And from most angles it looks quite good.

Too bad it is really ugly from the rear:


Those bicylce tyres do nothing for its atheatics...

There are some things in this car that look like it is a prototype, such as the LCD display that blocks the accident-light on the dashboard:


And I am surprised they went for such an old-skool hand brake. I would have thought an electronic one would save money and weight.

I hope they will not abolish the direct rear-facing rear view mirror:


I like the instruments, though. And cruise control is nice.

GdB: VW are using 7-speed DSG transmissions in most of their line-up so I think it is safe to assume they are reliable enough.

Ole Grampa

.....In a related story, Chrysler has re-engineered the Dodge Durango line, increasing engine fuel economy 1%. The 2010 Dodge Durango will have an estimated fuel economy of 9.2 mpg.


Dodge was going to come out with a hybrid Durango years ago, but cancelled the program around 2006, two years before the four dollars per gallon price spike. It would have competed with the Tahoe hybrid, which is not selling all that many units at a price of more than 50,000 dollars each.



Tks for the great news. Those monsters may even do 10 mpg one of those days.


Concept yes byt a real credit.
My wish list has large diameter wheels preferably with high aspect ratio tyres optional way up the top as our dirt and other sealed roads are no fun and hard on especially the light compacts and mini vehicles.


"..800cc, 2-cylinder TDI (turbo-diesel), electric motor.."
"..695 kg (1,500 lbs).."

These are two key reasons for the fuel economy. Smaller displacement with forced induction and light weight. Combine that with a lower drag and you get good mileage.



There are no logical reasons why ultra light e-cars could not have ultra light large diameter wheels. AW steering may also help to reduce wheel hole size. Batteries installed under the floor could keep the center of gravity low enough. Many cars had very large diameter wheels 100+ years ago. In principle, larger diameter tires should last longer. That may be one reason why we had so many 13-in tires. The tire replacement market has to be proctected.


Do we have any info on the battery specs? Who makes it? Saft?

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