What Toyota is to Japan and GM is to the U.S., Volkswagen is to Europe. And as Europe's largest car company, VW has its sites set aggressively on the U.S. market. To further that effort, its world premier of the VW Up Lite was launched at the Los Angeles Auto Show -- a diesel/electric hybrid that activates its electric engine when the driver lifts their foot from the gas pedal.
A similar concept called the L1 premiered at the 2009 International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, Germany but this version is the first to use both a diesel and electric motor together for 70 mpg/highway. The Up Lite is a four-seater micro car while the L1 only fits two. Volkswagen claims the Lite will be "the most fuel efficacy four-seater in the world."
The Up Lite is short, squat and aerodynamically unchallenged like most of the four other concepts based on VW's "new small family" micro cars. Of the car's many attributes, speed is not on the list. The 51-horsepower 0.8-liter 2-cylinder TDI turbo diesel engine paired with a 10-kilowatt electric motor and 7-speed Direct Shift Gearbox, produces a top speed of 100 miles per house and does 0-60 in 12 seconds.
It would be great to see this car first in line for production, but VW announced that the Up (non lite version) will go into production at the end of 2011, so the Up Lite must get in line behind that product.
Build and price your new Volkswagen.
Explore all the new Volkswagen models in the New Model Showcase.
Find your new Volkswagen for sale.
About the Author
Joni Gray is a long-standing member of the automotive industry and has worked on both the corporate and publishing sides of the business. Over the past 20 years, she has managed advertising and marketing programs at Mazda, Hyundai and Honda and has been an editor at both Kelley Blue Book and the Los Angeles Times.