Eco concept will make production within the next three years

This is the VW Up Lite concept, a 116mpg four-seater, unveiled at today’s Los Angeles motor show and likely to make production within the next three years.

The VW Up Lite, which took 18 months to develop, exchanges the rear engine/rear drive platform and upright, boxy styling of the previous Up for a more conventional front engine/front drive layout and a new, sleeker body.

Ulrich Hackenberg, VW's head of R&D, cautioned that the Up Lite production car was probably too expensive and outlandish to make production in the show stand form.

“The car features expensive materials like aluminium and carbonfibre, expensive batteries and an expensive diesel engine too, so it would be triply difficult to bring to market at a good price," said Hackenberg.

“Our experience with the VW Lupo 3L showed us that customers aren’t prepared to pay very high premiums for economy cars of this size, so any production version of the car would have to be designed to be cheaper to manufacture."

The production version of the Up Lite would be likely to look more like the standard Up. The bespoke design of the concept car is intended to test public reaction to a sportier version of the Up, but won’t influence the look of the first Up production cars.

On that theme, Hackenberg said the Up Lite was part of a wider pool of Up cars planned by the firm.

"We want to create an Up family because we are fairly certain that the segment will grow and we need more variations and derivatives," he said. "We also need a combination of powertrain strategies.

"At Frankfurt there was an EV version of the Up and that will come to market in 2013 and the first prototypes are already on the road. A plug-in range extender will be here by 2015. We built it to see if customers demand an eco-car to look different. In my opinion the visualisation of a car like this needs to be unique. There’s a danger of conformity and it’s important to look different."

Klaus Bishof, VW's head of design, said the car had been designed to look "futuristic".

"Our mission to make it look futuristic," he said. "It looks like it’s carved out of a block of aluminium. Every line has a reason; it all shows the technical ability of the concept."

The Lite’s styling uses elements of current VW design, with a front end that draws inspiration from the Polo and Golf. At the rear, the car’s unusual narrow hatch and flared wheel arches are taken from the L1 concept car. At 3840mm long (almost as long as a Polo) and 1400mm high, it’s lower and longer than an Up, helping to give the car a Cd of just 0.23.

All the windows are completely flush with the car’s body to improve aerodynamics, and the car has an active front air intake that opens when the engine bay needs extra cooling. Door mirrors have been replaced by a pair of smaller and lighter cameras.

The body is built from steel and aluminium, with the body’s upper section built entirely from aluminium, and carbonfibre is used for the roof and some structural components. That means the car has a kerb weight of just 695kg.

Under the bonnet is an 800cc, two-cylinder diesel engine with 50bhp and 88lb ft, based on the 1.6-litre diesel used in the Golf Bluemotion. But to achieve the 96mpg headline figure the driver would have to activate the car’s Eco mode, which cuts power to just 36bhp. The engine can also shut down when coasting.

It’s backed up by an electric motor sandwiched between the engine and the seven-speed DSG transmission. The motor can power the car by itself for 1.25 miles, or assist the engine under acceleration, making the car a full hybrid.

Only minor changes would be needed to put the car into the production and it is essentially production ready. The basic looks will remain unchanged, with the major changes needed being for passenger knee clearance and added safety protection.

Gregor Dietz, VW's concept cars boss, told Autocar that the Up Lite was a realistic target for production.

"It's realistic we can build it," he said. "It won't be cheap, though, because of the propulsion system. But it could be a high-level member of the Up family."

Dietz said the firm would also consider doing diesel and all-electric versions of the car.

Hackenberg said the Up Lite showed VW's commitments in wanting to become the world's most environmentally friendly car maker.

"We want to be the world’s most environmentally friendly car maker," he said. "The Up Lite takes the L1 concept and makes it a more customer-focused concept. No other four-seater is so sustainable."

 

 

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Comments
6

3 December 2009

What a fantastic concept, I'd love to have a drive in it.

The engineering challenges of putting such a car into production, geting it reliable enough to offer a 3 year warranty and training dealers to fix it are considerable. But that's nothing compared with the marketing problem. I mean, who will pay upwards of 30,000 Euros for a small and probably quite noisy (2-cylinder diesel) car with limited performance and questionable safety in collisions with heavier vehicles?

You only have to look at Audi's experience with much less ambitious A2, to see the difficulties involved. But I'm glad to see that VW is giving it a go anyway...

3 December 2009

[quote LP in Brighton]

What a fantastic concept, I'd love to have a drive in it.

The engineering challenges of putting such a car into production, geting it reliable enough to offer a 3 year warranty and training dealers to fix it are considerable. But that's nothing compared with the marketing problem. I mean, who will pay upwards of 30,000 Euros for a small and probably quite noisy (2-cylinder diesel) car with limited performance and questionable safety in collisions with heavier vehicles?

You only have to look at Audi's experience with much less ambitious A2, to see the difficulties involved. But I'm glad to see that VW is giving it a go anyway...

[/quote]

patronising gibberish.

who said anything about '30,000 euros'?

the Audi A2 was selling at a time of far lower fuel prices, far less punitive green BS CO2 taxes and during the huge credit bubble, when driving dinky eco cars was a peverse act, when wealth and excess flaunting was all the vogue, off the back of mortgage equity withdrawal and the like. all that's chnaged, gone inyo reverse. producing a new version of the A2, which is what this Up! Lite is, albeit with the hybrid bunkum bolted on, is a bullseye for the time now and ahead. it will retail under €15,000, my guess, as the standard Up! for next year is planned at no more than €10k. the problem for VW is what it does to the Polo and base spec Golfs demand.

3 December 2009

[quote Autocar]“The car features expensive materials like Aluminium and Carbonfibre, expensive batteries and an expensive diesel engine too, so it would be triply difficult to bring to market at a good price," said Hackenberg.[/quote]

That is an extremely interesting statement to make considering that aluminium happens to be the most abundant metal in earth's crust [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminium ]. Not only that, it is one of those materials which can be recycled without any loss of physical properties or damage to its internal metallic structure [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminium#Recycling ]. Considering these two facts and also that large quantities, rather, according to CNN, Titanic heaps of titanium and aluminiuim [ http://www.cnn.com/2009/TRAVEL/04/07/plane.art.furniture/index.html ], are awaiting recycling, it should be one of the cheapest materials to acquire for building almost any thing; yet according to Mr. Hackenburg, the extreme opposite is the case even when it requires just 5% of the energy to recycle the aluminium already in use than to produce from ore. In order to ascertain how abundant it is and widespread its use is, these days, the businesses even sell fizzy drinks (Coca-cola, Pepsi and the likes) in aluminium cans and many other energy drinks, for example Red Bull, are also sold in cans made of aluminium. Had it been such a precious metal, the cost of the drinks packaged in aluminium would have been prohibitive and the samples would have been considered collectors' items, yet they are sold in supermarkets, sometimes at far lower prices than the original just to clear the shelves. In order to become aware of its abundance, do check these links as well:

Another thing which needs mentioning is that either a year or may be two ago, even with the types of markets in which aluminium has found usage, Russia's largest aluminium producer had abundant stocks for which it was having difficulty finding a buyer.

As far as Carbon Fiber is concerned, if aluminium is one material which has found such widespread acceptance, Carbon Fiber would have to be another. In America for instance, it seems every other sports item these days is made up of Carbon Fiber, starting from surfing boards - which it seems even the poorest in Hawaii own one - to baseball bats, roller blades, and the list most probably would go on. Had it been expensive to produce, it also would not have enjoyed such acceptance, an acceptance which continues to grow than otherwise.

With reference to the diesel engine being expensive, how have they been able to make an expensive variation of the technology which has been around since 1897 and has been undergoing refinement since then is a question which only they would be able to answer. Having said that, it should be considered an achievement of sorts that they have been able to produce a derivative of a technology which in itself is over hundred years old which now costs a lot. Interesting to say the least.

Not being an expert, I have had to rely on deductive reasoning. I hope it all actually makes sense.

All of the above aside, the fuel consumption figures are actually quite impressive.

3 December 2009

[quote AwakeSpectator] it should be one of the cheapest
materials to acquire for building almost any thing;[/quote]

Quite. Well said. And whilst you're on the topic - how on earth can Intel justify charging quite so much for their computer processors? After all, they're only made from silicon, which my children collect in buckets from the beach for FREE.

And money! Why is it so expensive? After all, it's made from paper and we know full well that paper literally does grown on trees.

Something just doesn't add up - I smell a capitalist conspiracy and will be donning my protective helmet (made from inexpensive and widely available aluminium foil) forthwith.

3 December 2009

Awakespectator

Your comparisons are the wrong ones for the car industry. Aluminium is cheaper than gold or silver, but a lot more expensive than the mild steel which is the default material for car monocoques.

(Incidentally, try putting a magnet to the drinks cans you find it the supermarket or corner store and you will find that the era of aluminium cans for soft drinks is pretty much over. For many years now most of them have been ultra-thin coated steel, because it's cheaper.)

Similarly, carbon fibre composites are a lot more expensive than something like injection-moulded polypropylene. It's not just the woven carbon fibre cloth or spun tow, it's also the various other materials that go into the composite, particularly the resin that usually forms the matrix. Epoxy resin is very expensive. Finally, you don't just vac-form or injection-mould a carbon fibre composite component - the assembly of the layup is very work-intensive often requiring a lot of skilled labour.

3 December 2009

[quote MrTrilby][quote AwakeSpectator]it should be one of the cheapest
materials to acquire for building almost anything[/quote]

Quite. Well said. And whilst you're on the topic - how on earth can Intel justify charging quite so much for their computer processors? After all, they're only made from silicon, which my children collect in buckets from the beach for FREE.

And money! Why is it so expensive? After all, it's made from paper and we know full well that paper literally does grown on trees.

Something just doesn't add up - I smell a capitalist conspiracy and will be donning my protective helmet (made from inexpensive and widely available aluminium foil) forthwith.[/quote]

Haha, brilliant!

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