VW Space Up! Blue runs on hydrogen, has solar panels and can be charged from the mains
14 November 2007

This is the third instalment in Volkswagen’s series of Up!-badged rear-driven, rear-engined city car concepts - it's called the Space Up! Blue - and powered by hydrogen and light from the sun, it's arguably the most revolutionary yet.Due to make its debut this week at the LA motor show, this compact electric minivan uses advanced high-temperature fuel cell technology for zero-emissions running. It’s driven by a rear-mounted 60bhp electric motor that draws power from twelve lithium-ion batteries. These batteries have a 65-mile range before they need recharging, which can be done on the go using electricity from the emissions-free hydrogen fuel cell, extending the overall range to an impressive 220 miles without emitting any CO2. There are solar panels on the car's roof, which generate extra electricity to help replenish the batteries. And to make things even more environmentally sound, the interior is made almost entirely out of recycled materials.The electric motor produces 60bhp and 88lb ft torque, allowing the minivan to go from standstill to 62mph in 13.7 seconds and on to a maximum of 75mph. But crucially, according to VW, the Space Up! Blue's more compact, cheaper-to-build high-temperature hydrogen fuel cell (codenamed HT-FC) represents a big step forward in bringing this technology to the mass-market. The company has acknowledged, however, that hydrogen power is still a good number of years from going mainstream, not least because the supporting filling station infrastructure is not in place. So it seems unlikely that the Space Up! Blue will go into production alongside the other two Up! models, which are due in showrooms in 2010.

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