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Volkswagen premiers six New Small Family concepts at Frankfurt, at least two slated for production: CNG (2012) and battery electric (2013) versions

Volkswagen’s world premiere of the two-door production up! (earlier post) marks the beginning of an entire series of cars: Volkswagen’s New Small Family. At the IAA, Volkswagen is demonstrating how this family could develop in upcoming years through 6 concept cars: the eco-up! natural gas drive (due to be in production by next year’s Frankfurt show); the electric e-up! (production version slated for 2013); the NILS single-seat electric vehicle; buggy up! concept based on the Beetle; up! azzura sailing team for marinas; cross up! with customized and rugged design; and GT up! with a higher powered engine.

eco up! – the up! for natural gas. With its natural gas engine (EcoFuel) and BlueMotion Technology (Stop/Start system and battery regeneration), the eco up! emits 79 g/km CO2/ So far, no one has documented such low emissions in a small car with CNG natural gas drive, Volkswagen says.

Compressed natural gas (CNG) also offers economic advantages: natural gas engines receive favorable taxation benefits in such countries as Germany. When used in the smallest vehicle class, natural gas drives—besides achieving these best values in emissions—are significantly more economical than hybrid systems in the small car segment.

Volkswagen is using a newly developed 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine for the eco up!, with power output of 50 kW / 68 PS / 67 hp. As an EcoFuel version without BlueMotion Technology, the car will launch on the market next year. Its combined fuel consumption: 3.2 kg CNG/100 km; this value is equivalent to a CO2 value of 86 g/km. As a BlueMotion Technology version in the style of the eco up!, fuel consumption drops to 2.5 kg/100 km and CO2 emissions are reduced to the 79 g/km mark.

The natural gas storage tanks are in the underbody. The natural gas is stored in 2 underfloor tanks (combined fuel capacity: 72 liters or 11 kg CNG) located near the rear axle. Tank 1 is located in front of the axle together with a 10-liter reserve gasoline tank; tank 2 makes use of the spare wheel recess. Since the entire EcoFuel system was integrated in the vehicle structure, it does not impose any limitations on the car, except for the use of the spare wheel recess.

e-up! – the up! for zero emissions driving. A production version of the e-up! will launch on the market in 2013. At the IAA in 2011, Volkswagen is presenting a near-production study of this zero-emissions car. It has a distinctive identifying characteristic at its front end: the arc-shaped layout of the LED daytime running lights in the bumper. On the e-up!, the upper engine cooling air slot—a slot between the headlights and the VW logo—is fully covered by a chrome trim strip. The narrow air intake slots above and below the licence plate suffice to cool the drive system of the e-up!.

Supplying the propulsive power for the concept car, which can reach a top speed of 135 km/h (84 mph), is an electric motor with a peak power of 60 kW (continuous power: 40 kW) with maximum torque of 210 N·m. The driver activates the forward or reversing gear by pushbutton on the center console.

The car’s battery capacity of 18 kWh enables distances of up to 130 km (81 miles), depending on driving style. The batteries themselves are located in the underbody of the e-up!. Meanwhile, all key drive and ancillary components are housed in front in the engine compartment.


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The up! is also having a much larger trunk than you would expect for a minicar. It has 250 liter normally and 1000 liter with the back seats folded down.

Note also that the natural gas version has a range on natural gas of 440 km (=11*(100/2.5)) plus a range of 238 km (=23.8*10) for the gasoline reserve tank. Combined gas and gasoline range is 678 km or 424 miles. That is really good. It is going to be interesting to see the price when it launches in 2012 and also to see the price of the e-up when it launches in 2013.

If ever the global economy should be hit by a serious oil price crisis or a deep economic crisis I think VW will be doing exceptionally well with their natural gas and their electric up!

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One more thing.

The natural gas Up! could probably be build for about 1200 USD less if VW were able to drop the gasoline tank because its engine would then also not need an exhaust after treatment system because natural gas is such a clean burning fuel. However, VW can’t sell such a car as long as compressed natural gas is not offered at all gas stations. Japan, USA and Europe would be better off economically and environmentally if we could agree to make CNG pumps compulsory at public gas stations say by 2017 and with a onetime public subsidy to the gas station owner of say 30,000 USD for the first CNG pump they install.

A pure natural gas vehicle in volume production cost about the same to produce as a gasoline vehicle because it can drop the expense for exhaust after treatment system. And natural gas is about half the price of gasoline. That is a nice bounty worth pursuing with a little foresight from our politicians.


Yes Henrik....a pure CNG Ups could be an excellent interim fossil fuel vehicle (until e-Ups have better range) if CNG was widely available. There seems to be enough NG and SG around for up to 100 years for as many as one billion small cars. It wouldn't be that difficult to install compressors and high pressure tanks at selected gas stations. Most have easy access to nearby NG distribution network.

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