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LA auto show:VW Up! goes Blue

On the up: Up! Blue concept has a touring range of 250km.

Volkswagen's Up! future small-car re-emerges with new fuel-cell technology

21 Nov 2007

VOLKSWAGEN used the Los Angeles motor show last week to present the latest version of its Up! series of future compact vehicles, this time exhibiting its environmental potential with an in-house “high-temperature” fuel-cell application. Based on the Space Up! show car unveiled at the recent Tokyo motor show, the zero-emissions Up! Blue concept is claimed to have the world’s first high-temperature fuel cell (HTFC) that can withstand a temperature range of up to 160 degrees Celsius and therefore eliminate the need for bigger, heavier and more expensive cooling units. The fuel cell can store up to 3.3kg of compressed hydrogen, which is converted into electrical energy to operate a 45kW/120Nm electric motor and enable a 250km touring range.

3 center imageAn additional 100km can be achieved via a dozen onboard lithium-ion batteries. A roof-mounted solar panel assists with recharging the batteries (up to 150W), which can also be fed using a standard electrical outlet. According to Volkswagen, HTFC offers “crucial advantages compared to all other fuel cell systems: considerably lower weight, significantly greater everyday utility, substantially lower price, and therefore clearly the better chances of becoming a reality some day as a mass-produced technology”. The company also points out that the transition from combustion engines to electric motors hinges largely on “durable and affordable lithium-ion batteries with high-charge capacities”. The 1090kg concept vehicle can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 13.7 seconds, on its way to a 120km/h maximum speed. Volkswagen designers have used the original VW Samba Bus of the 1950s for inspiration with the spacious but compact Space Up! Blue, building in design features such as butterfly doors with opposing hinges, a rear engine/motor layout and roof windows. The four-seat concept measures 1570mm in overall height and 3680mm in length. Cargo capacity ranges from 220 litres to 1005 litres. Like the two previous concept cars (the first Up! was unveiled at this year’s Frankfurt motor show), the vehicle heralds a new range of small, versatile vehicles – using both conventional and alternative powertrains – due for release in 2010.

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