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back to article VW unveils slippery four-seat hybrid

Volkswagen has given the world a glimpse at its 2011 small car line-up with the unveiling of its Up! Lite concept at the LA Auto Show. Heralded as the world's most fuel-efficient four-seater, the Up! Lite's power train consists of an 800cc two-cylinder turbo-diesel engine which produces 38kW (51bhp), and a 10kW (13.4bhp) …

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Some military tech finally finding civilian application

Variable geometry air intake has been a standard feature on aircraft (and on some military kit) for nearly 40 years now.

Unfortunately, it has not been used in mass production vehicles so far despite it being one of the most bleeding obvious ways to reduce drag.

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Paris Hilton

David Hasselhoff not included

So, VW's got loads of experience building efficient, small Diesel engines, spends loads of time lightening and improving the vehicle's aerodynamics for efficency, then sticks with a first-gen hybrid setup? One of the big knocks on the Chevy Volt/Ampere/whatever is that they used a gasoline/petrol engine instead of a Diesel, which would be more efficient for generating electricity.

Germans do some things that I'll never understand. Paris, because even she wouldn't make such a bad design decision, nor would she saddle it with blaze orange carpet.

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>David Hasselhoff not included

If you make it an oil burner it won't sell in Merika.

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Good effort

I wonder how noisy it is inside though? A lot of weight in cars is for sound-deadening.

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Too light

"the Up! Lite tips the scales at 695kg (1529lbs)"

I bet it's a joy to drive on windy days (or when passed by a big lorry or bus).

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American?

It's about the weight of a Lotus Elise and you don't see them being tossed around in the wind or by passing trucks etc. Put four American's in it and you'd triple the weight so it'd be even less of a problem. Of course the car wouldn't be able to move in that case.

Of course 695kg is how much the average car 'door' on an American "automobile" weighs, so I'm sure it's a confusing concept for them.

This low weight concept will never fly. Can you imagine soccer-moms getting out of their 'safe' tanks to get in something like this, only to be crushed by other tank driving soccer-moms? I can hear the shreaks of horror now....

Me? I'd get one in a flash. Low weight rules.

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Joy

If by "joy" you mean the unbridled adrenaline rush of terror, then yes, I believe it would be!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Too light

"I bet it's a joy to drive on windy days (or when passed by a big lorry or bus)."

Joe User, it's not the mass that matters, it's the centre of pressure.

Also the balance of grip between front and rear tyres.

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Nope, too heavy

My first car, a 2 door 4 seater weighed 800 pounds. It may have been an even then ancient '36 A7 Ruby but surely things have, in some respects, gone backwards in the past 80 odd years.

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Badgers

Not that lightweight a car

Original Mini weighs in at 1380lb (625Kg) and that didn't have access to aluminium for engine components, or lightweight carbon fibre or any of the other bits of technology.

It was built by men who smoked pipes, and designed things with Steel and Iron.

Hell even a Mk2 Ford Escort didn't weigh that much (just under the magic tonne IIRC)

The point is that cars over the years have got fatter and heavier. Some of this is for good reasons such as crash protection, and some of it is for the frankly useless crap that is now considered must have these days.

Electric windows? Nice, but I still drive a vehicle where I wind them down myself. Aircon? Unless you drive through places like California, Texas or Arizona, not high on the list of needs here.

With the use of composites and alloy, overall weight should be lighter than this, and crash protection not compromised. Also if they junked the slush box in there, and went for a decent manual box, consumption and weight should be improved.

On the positive side, at least this looks like a serious almost market ready attempt, and not just an attempt at greenwash. It looks mainstream enough for people to buy it, unlike some of the God-Awful attempts that have been showcased recently. Peugeot I'm looking at you here.

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Go

Based on looks...

...have VW designed the first "real world" hybrid car you actually wouldn't mind driving???

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Mass times velocity

So in a head on collision is this thing going to go flying like a top compared to a heavier car? Or will the body disintegrate leaving the passenger cabin unscathed?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: David Hasselhoff not included

Why is a gas/petrol engine more efficient at generating electricity than a diesel? I thought all the highest efficiency internal combustion engines are diesel.

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@AC

Try reading it again. I think the guy was saying that Diesels ARE better.

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.. ur, wow, I think.

@Shades

yeah, its a pretty nice looking car, nice specs too, pity about the orange trim.

@Sean Bergeron

You did read that this car is a diesel hybrid, right?

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Happy

@Sean Bergeron

Perhaps you should go back and read the article. Unlike the Toyota Pious which combines masses of technology with a petrol engine to achieve the same economy as a decent turbo-diesel the VW has a small efficient diesel engine and offers over 115 MPG.

It sounds ideal for my daily commute to work plus the possibility of ferrying children to and from clubs, and the performance is certainly acceptable for everyday use. With such low running costs I can even afford to rent something bigger for the 2-3 weekends a year I would head off to the Lake District or North Wales if I really feel the need.

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Stop

Slippery? Not really!

I think Cd of 0.237 is not really considered slippery in 2009 (less still in 2011), when Opel/Vauxhall Calibra achieved Cd of 0.26 in 1989, Honda Insight and Audi A2 0.25 in 1999 and Merceds Boxfish supposedly has Cd of 0.19.

http://www.carshopguide.com/mercedes-benz-bionic-car-daimler-ag/

The rear end shape does not look very aerodynamical (anybody seen a flat rear on an airplane lately?)

Mind the lack of external rear view mirrors (replaced by small camera pods) - a Calibra without RWM, with flat hubcaps & some streamlining could well get below Cd of 0.24 and A2 from 1999 even lower IMHO.

Sorry, but below 0.19 would be slippery, not ~0.24. Plus Cd is just a coefficient which needs to be multiplied by frontal area to get the (speed dependent) drag force - the VW looks to be considerably higher than Calibra and thus has larger frontal area.

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Boffin

Aerodynamics

"The rear end shape does not look very aerodynamical (anybody seen a flat rear on an airplane lately?)"

That "flat rear" is what is called a "Kamm tail." The aerodynamic effect is, in short, to cause turbulences in the car's wake that behave as if the car were teardrop-shaped. Car makers have been using this effect since the late 60s with various degrees of success. Can't work on an airplane because air flows freely around a plane's underside, too -- which it does not in most road cars (excepting SUVs and other insults to the concept of a useful car, of course).

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695kg

Is about what my 40mpg 1974 Datsun 120Y coupe used to weigh.

I bet the VW fares better in a crash though.

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Available in the USA?

For some reason, we in the US seem to hate diesel cars. It seems that Europe has dozens and dozens of diesels that never make it here and I don't know why. Will this be another one to add to that list? I surely hope not.

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No

No thanks.

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@zourtney

"For some reason, we in the US seem to hate diesel cars."

I believe that may date from the late 1970s when various (US) mfgs put out diesels which were dogs. AFAIK they were smelly, smoky, unreliable and worse of all lacking performance.

But manufacturers don't want to take a chance that when buyers asks dad "what's a diesel like?" they be worry he'll be told "I tried one in the 70's. It's s@~t son" and not bother.

Engine tech is a very different beast and IIRC so is the diesel (susbstantially less sulphur then there used to be).

And then of course there is the worry you cannot get service as "It's an import"

I wonder how many Fords and Chryslers are actually still being made in the US?

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CC
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That's more like it!

Good looking, got some useable space, neat and tidy and since VW does already import their diesels into the US you can only hope that they will add this one to the US shores as well.

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Very, VERY THIS

THAT'S MORE LIKE IT! Never mind all the usual FUD merchants that are coming out of the woodwork here, this is good stuff. Just so long as they make it plug-in compatible and replete with a decent amount of (presumably very low weight!?) batteries. In fact, it's that last consideration that may eventually make it vapourware :-/

To counter the kneejerk, broken record naysayers, let's have a rebuff / reflame session.

"It's too light to be safe" - bullsh¦t, is there some magic weight at which a car suddenly becomes safe? Some of the world's biggest deathtraps have been 2-ton-plus stoneage-engineered yank tanks that barely flinch in an impact... but concertina such to make people paté of the occupants. Good energy-absorbption and passenger cabin integrity preservation engineering is worth spades more than weight for the hell of it. We've seen that already with the Smart, and in terms of safety engineering VW aren't often far behind MCC or Volvo. They were one of the first to build-in crumple zones to a supermini for example (the mk2 Polo). Don't be a fool. That kind of thinking would have us ALL driving around in Hummers.

"It won't sell in america... diesel, too small/light" - so f***ing what? VW has done great guns in the small car market without selling unit one in the States of anything smaller than a Golf 1.8 or TDi (hmm... diesel, no?!). Let them sink further into the mire of horrible oversized petrol-V8 powered dreck that's left their car industry in the crapper and largely ignored by the rest of the world (except Oz), then come begging for cars like this when they've nothing left to buy and their fuel prices finally catch up to ours. Or perhaps when the Volt finally launches, these two can compete head to head.

"First gen hybrid tech" - actually not much different from how the Prius works, just in a harder/more expensive to implement but should-be-more-efficient usage pattern). It's how hybrids were originally promised to work - electric for town, small solo ICE for faster cruising and combined system for brief sprints - and I was always a bit disappointed at the ways they actually end up working. I'm quietly holding out to see if they've made the "obvious when you think about it" leap of shoving the electric motor on the "far" end of the gearbox input shaft, ie can decouple from the engine but not the wheels for electric running (clutch), use different gears (to boost start-up torque from the low-hp motor), decouple from wheels but not engine for starting/charging (neutral), as well as run in-series with the engine.

"sub-0.24Cd is not actually that much". Oh, you think so? On what's going to be a reasonably cheap production car that's not a hardline concept (it's utterly achieveable with current tech... who do you know that drives a boxfish btw?) and not a somewhat premium-priced wannabe sportscar? I urge you to better it, then. I think improving on the Insight and the A2 (also a VAG product, or did you mean the Merc A-class?) for such a class of everyday car is pretty good going. BTW, are we talking about the boggo mainstream A2, or that low-production-run 1.2 diesel economy posterchild of yesteryear which tried for these same goals without being a hybrid? Skinny tyres, gutless engine and a lot of work on slipperiness = not as slippery as this and a respectable but still not "close" 70-80 something mpg.

I HAD an early 90s Poo-low btw, which was allegedly a scant 850kg in its pants and socks, and it was perfectly fine. The safety wasn't all that by modern standards, but it was OK for the time. Crumple zones, reinforced (though not SIPS) doors, collapsible steering column and pedals (the latter, after ~15 years, happening even without being in a crash), inertia reel belts, supportive seats. It was a good solid car for 900 quid. 45hp sounds like bugger all these days (and it was, really), but it would take off smartly enough thanks to a lack of much flab, handle and brake pretty well, sit at 85-90mph on the motorway as confidently as pretty much anything else I've driven except for a slight vagueness to the steering (as I said, the aero wasn't all that, the front probably lifted some - but it didn't get badly buffeted). Plus 30mpg flat-out and mid 40s in general use is not to be sniffed at from a brick-like shopping bucket with a 4-speed and a base engine design dating from sometime in the early 70s... Rear legroom not up to much but it would fit four big lads and a surprising amount of heavy gear.

Now, fastforward 20 years and lets see what they can do.

On paper, strangely, it's a bit of deja vu. It strikes me as the ultimate evolution of their very early 80s Oko Polo sort-of-concept that arguably would have seen production if the oil crisis hadn't eased off. 800cc 2-cylinder TDi (hmm!) pushing out 40bhp with a then-rare 5sp box to take better advantage of it, 80-something mph and tolerable 0-60 time thanks to the low weight despite the brick-like aero (the older platform was even more anorexic than mine - sub-800kg). A few were actually built and brought in useful test data, and even got as far as having a first-look test drive review in a german magazine. One or two reputedly made it to the hands of collectors, including one that's gone to the states, albeit needing a standard 1.0 petrol (a mere 5hp upgrade, assuming you can find the requisite 91-RON juice out there) put in place... not because you can't get the fuel, but to satisfy their bonkers emissions regs.

So take that existing proof of concept, apply almost 30 years more of engine and gearbox development to squeeze out an extra 11hp and probably all manner of system efficiencies for less weight, apply similar tweaking to a bodyshell that is probably a stock Polo Bluemotion crossed with the best bits of the A2 (hello, Aluminium!) and Ibiza (hello aero...) to shave off all excess fat without compromising safety, add some kind of magical weightless electric system (?!) and you're well in.

I do wonder how long it would sustain the claimed 100mph for when the whole caboodle weighs about as much as the Tesla's "Energy Storage System" sans-car, but it should be good for keeping up 90+mph for as long as you want, which is sufficient in most real-world conditions (I can rarely top 95 in a far more powerful machine thanks to traffic) and that 0-60 sprint is bloody good for a sub-65hp total system power - I bet their 1.2 petrol that offers the same oomph wouldn't be able to touch it in a drag race. I'm thinking it's probably got a 6- or 7-speed DSG in as well?

Good show chaps. Auf Wolfsburg, proust!

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Happy

the title is required and must contain letters and/or digits. 42.

PS... I'm not sure what Smart it is you're thinking of that's 720kg, but they must have drained all the fluids and nicked the chairs out of it before letting you put it on the scales, that or you're thinking of the skeletal Brabus "open" variant. For a 2-seater non-sports car, it's a heavy bugger, possibly some of it being ballast to stop it getting too top-heavy. The official kerb weights i've seen for it are on the wrong side of 850kg... If the Up kerbs at under 700 then it will be significantly lighter than the ForTwo! In fact, it'd be knocking at the door of the original Mini (possibly lighter than the old Clubman?), and I haven't seen many arguments along the lines of that being too light and liable to get blown over. A contender for the people paté awards, yes, but solidly planted. Just because the BMW incarnation is 400kg bulkier doesn't mean that's the right way :D

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@zourtney

"It seems that Europe has dozens and dozens of diesels that never make it here and I don't know why. Will this be another one to add to that list?"

The car is Yet Another Concept Car (YACC) and won't actually be sold anywhere (and that includes the USA)

I for one am sick of the never ending stream of concept cars being "unveiled".

When will it be time to actually produce something guys?

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Coat

@Goat Jam

"When will it be time to actually produce something guys?"

If I read the article right, that's going to be roundabout 2015... as for the Diesels, they've been available throughout Europe from various manufacturers (Renault, Peugeot, VW, Audi, BMW, even Mercedes with halfway reasonable fuel mileage) for quite a while.

Mine's the one with the "Rudolf was a Genius!" button on the lapel.

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Two cylinder diesel?

Gosh, that'll be fun when it cuts it to charge the batts in traffic. That, with the lightness making any vibration even more obvious, means what they've built here is a roadgoing massage chair.

One other thing, the reason that they don't normally go for variable radiator intakes? 'Cos any manufacturer with its head screwed on knows that such a thing, exposed as it is to being sprayed in crud for all its life, is bound to stick closed sooner or later. Cue overheat, bang, warranty claim. A good idea, but probably impractical in operation and I suspect it'll be dropped from any production version.

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Welcome

Ho, and indeed, hum.

Is it me or does this look more like a Volvo? Check out those shoulders and hatch shape?

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Boffin

When will they get it right?

ENERGY IS WASTED WHEN YOU BRAKE!

100% Electromagnetic breaking.. its used on Rollercoasters and on Trains. SO when will they put it on cars??

Its the only way to get decent range out of an electric/leccyhybrid..

IT requires one thing though A friggin powerful motor/dyno unit. (and a few/lot capacitors to dump into)

what does that mean for drive? well it means you can do 0-60 in less than 3 seconds! (if the capacitors are charged) and you dont need an additional engine for drive. but you can run your gas/oil burner/Turbine/fuel cell at the most efficient speed/power for gererating electricity to top up the batt pack!

Assuming 1000KG (inc passagers/load) @70mph (~ 500KJ of Ke)

Using a safe 50m stopping distance gives 158KW over 3.2 sec at 10m/s^2 (1G)

Using legal maximum braking distance of 75m gives 105KW over 4.8 seconds at 6.6m/s^2

even if you only put an 100KW Motor in a vehicle you could use 100% EM braking for all but emergency stops and used pads and discs only when the pedal is fully pressed the last 20% of the pedal travel..

The new Pruis uses an 60kw Motor the size of a small melon they are well on the way...

It is nice to see A lightweight car though! its about time there was a weight limit on private vehicles! (350kg per adult seat 250kg per child seat - its not an unreasonable amount!)

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as markp1 says - but......

As markp1 said above, it's the right step forward after some shamefully rubbish offerings by other manufacturers. However, it's not a particularly brilliant piece of work.

Component-wise nothing in the break-down is particularly innovative. They've made a good stab at the weight but, again, they could have done a whole lot better - and the inclusion of safety features is a poor excuse.

Consider this: Back in 1982 a car was unveiled that would reach 115mph, 133MPG at a steady 30 and weighed just 664Kg. It contained a 3-cylinder 1100cc petrol-engine developing 70bhp and used a CVT transmission (an aside to SirTainleyBarking; manual transmissions do not weigh less or give better fuel consumption that a decent CVT system). It was a saloon that was 2 feet shorter than a Ford Sierra, yet had far greater interior space. And it didn't have some fancy range of exotic materials in its construction either, but a simple, strong aluminium bodyframe on which plastic panels were hung. In other words, a car that comprehensively trumped Volkswagen's new idea 27 years ago and influenced manufacturers to this day.

This was no styling clinic wet dream either. It was a fully built and tested engineering study which was handed to journalists to drive. And after continued development it was dropped for no other reason than business interests moving off in fatefully the wrong direction.

So, take a bow, the ECV3 from Austin Rover. Yep, that union-ruined, political football of an organisation. A shame when you know there was a company with the technical brilliance to run rings round the competiton, yet was doomed to failure by idiots.

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