2013 is Volkswagen's year of electromobility. So just in time for the recent Frankfurt Motor Show, VW unveiled the e-Golf and the e-Up. The e-Up's hitting the market first, intended as it is for e-mobility's natural habitat - city streets. And the four-door runabout has a lot to offer urban drivers. Despite its compact exterior, the e-Up is surprisingly roomy.
In place of the Up's normal fuel tank, the e-Up carries a 240-kilo lithium ion battery. Located under the seats, it has a capacity of 19 kilowatt-hours. Passengers in the rear sacrifice only seven millimeters of legroom. We got a chance to test-drive the e-Up ahead of the motor show.
Car tester Emmanuel Schäfer is convinced. The car accelerates quickly, as you'd expect from an e-car. And it's fun to drive too. A small car like this is pretty nimble on the road.
The interior has a very tidy feel, without too many buttons. The leather feels good, even the plastic feels like quality, which makes a good impression.
And as expected in an e-car, sitting inside and driving, it's quiet! That's because there's no engine noise of course. You might hear the rolling of the tires, but who cares?!
One feature Emmanuel personally likes a lot is the 360-degree range display. When you switch it on there's a map showing you exactly how far you'll get on the current battery charge.
The electric motor generates 60 kilowatts of power. And as in all e-cars, the torque is ample. The motor brings 210 newton-meters to bear on the front axle.
It makes the zero-to-100 sprint in 12 point 4 seconds. Top speed is 130 kilometers an hour.
The e-Up saves power through recuperation - the re-use of energy released by braking. Another energy-saving feature is VW's use of lightweight construction. Seen before on standard models, that also now applies to the e-Up.
VW powertrain development chief Heinz-Jakob Neusser says that at 1139 kilos it's the lightest car of its kind, thanks to the extensive lightweight design in its steel. VW uses highly heat-resistant steel that makes for very light construction.
The car's range is designed for commuters. One charge takes the e-Up a hundred sixty kilometers. That's plenty, given that in Germany 80 percent of drivers drive less than 50 kilometers a day.
VW purposely integrated the e-Up into existing production sites. The carmaker relies on mass production technology. Customers appreciate its cars' practicality and robustness, and with mass production VW has the options to satisfy customers' wishes with all kinds of powertrains. Another importent consideration for customers is that they can have the cars serviced at their local dealership.
In the case of an accident drivers also benefit from low repair costs. The e-Up can be charged from a regular electric socket. At a direct-current charging station, VW says charging time is down to only 30 minutes.
The e-Up really surprised Emmanuel. From the outside you might think there's precious little room inside, but that's not true. Both in front and in back there's enough space for adults. You can't drive 400 kilometers with it, but it's just fine for city driving and small excursions. And you'd think there's not much cargo space because of the batteries, but again: surprise! When you lower the bottom like this, you have just as much capacity as a normal Up.