At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Volkswagen revealed an all-new concept car, called the Up! Lite, that demonstrates a new focus on fuel-efficiency and hybrids by getting straight to numbers; its carbon-dioxide emissions are just 65 grams per mile and at 70 mpg, it's the most fuel-efficient four-passenger vehicle in the world.
With a little 0.8-liter turbo-diesel (TDI) two-cylinder engine, electric-motor system, and seven-speed direct-shift (DSG) gearbox, combined with an aerodynamically optimized body and advanced lightweight body shell, the Up! Lite promises an excellent 70 mpg combined. Yet it also can get to 60 mph in just 12 seconds and to a top speed of 100 mph.
The Up! Lite is promised to be more than just another concept car, showcasing pie-in-the-sky ideas that won't make it to market. The production vehicle based on the Up! Lite and built on the automaker's so-called New Small Family--and destined for production in late 2011 in select markets (including the U.S.)--could be Volkswagen's equivalent of the Toyota Prius, showcasing their TDI clean-diesel technology and also potentially taking advantage of its hybrid small-car system, which the automaker has been testing in some European fleets in plug-in form in the Golf Twin Drive.
Volkswagen's U.S. CEO, Stefan Jacoby, told TheCarConnection.com that the Up! Lite is just the first of several new hybrids in the works, starting with the Touareg Hybrid. Jacoby wouldn't rule out a hybrid version of the New Midsize Sedan (NMS), the Chattanooga, Tennessee,-built replacement for the Passat slated for 2011, and hinted that the Detroit show would be ripe for that sort of introduction.