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VW Up! Concept  (Source: Autoblog Green)

  (Source: Autoblog Green)
Volkswagen's tiny Up! to get a hybrid powertrain

Volkswagen (VW) is no stranger to fuel efficiency in the United States. While the company may currently known for its 200HP GTI pocket rocket and Eos retractable hardtop-chick mobile, the company also has deep roots in diesel motors.

The company is famous for its TDI engines which in recent years have been available in a number of vehicles including the New Beetle, Jetta, Passat and Touareg. TDI engines are currently on hiatus in the United States due to more stringent emissions requirements, but VW will bring to market a new Tier 2 Bin 5 TDI engine for the Jetta next year (and likely also for the Passat, New Beetle and Rabbit).

If VW has its way, consumers may have an alternative method for achieving high fuel economy with its vehicles.

VW is looking to introduce two variants of its recently introduced Up! rear-engined concept car. The tiny Up! measures just 135.8 inches from nose to tail and is only 64.2 inches wide.

The first variant of the Up! would be a small minivan aimed at families who clearly don't need all of the space afforded in today's super-sized minivans from Chrysler, Honda and Toyota. The second variant on tap is a plug-in hybrid model.

The plug-in variant would ditch the concept Up!'s hatchback profile for a more traditional sedan configuration (which is more in tune with American buying tastes). According to Auto News and Autoblog, the plug-in hybrid Up! would achieve close to 100 MPG.

The Up! minivan is scheduled to be unveiled shortly in Tokyo while the Up! plug-in hybrid will bow in Los Angeles.

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By vortmax on 10/2/2007 1:43:11 PM , Rating: 2
Cool tech, but I cringe at the thought of one of these getting hit by a 4000+ pound SUV...

RE: Safety...
By mdogs444 on 10/2/07, Rating: 0
RE: Safety...
By TomZ on 10/2/2007 2:19:09 PM , Rating: 3
A government that makes such a law is a government that needs to be replaced immediately.

RE: Safety...
By mdogs444 on 10/2/2007 2:21:19 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks TomZ for the backup, glad we agree on something today :-)

RE: Safety...
By Polynikes on 10/2/2007 8:34:23 PM , Rating: 2
I like the term "violently overthrown" better than "replaced," personally.

RE: Safety...
By headbox on 10/3/2007 12:33:47 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, because getting to drive the car I want is more important that saving the planet. Freedom means I get to be a selfish dickwad at the expense of the Earth.

RE: Safety...
By mdogs444 on 10/3/2007 12:46:32 PM , Rating: 1
Fortunately, liberals not only argue like liberals, they throw like girls.

RE: Safety...
By eyebeeemmpawn on 10/2/2007 2:37:54 PM , Rating: 2
what do you think about the government making a law requiring a certain level of fuel efficiency?

RE: Safety...
By Brandon Hill on 10/2/2007 2:41:19 PM , Rating: 3
Or driver/passenger airbags, side curtain air bags, side-impact door beams, stability control, 5-MPH bumpers, tire pressure monitoring systems, etc.

Or helmet laws for that matter.

That being said, I don't envision a law like the one proposed above to ever come into play. Some people need pickups (for towing), minivans (for transporting kids), sports cars (for mid-life crisis's), etc.

RE: Safety...
By eyebeeemmpawn on 10/2/2007 2:51:07 PM , Rating: 2
I don't see an efficiency law coming either (not one with any teeth anyway). The safety laws only infringe on your ability to choose for yourself, we pass those "for the children". An efficiency law would cut into to those record oil profits; it would never make it through the "checks and balances" of our current Energy Regime.

RE: Safety...
By Ringold on 10/2/07, Rating: -1
RE: Safety...
By FITCamaro on 10/2/2007 3:24:38 PM , Rating: 2
We also pass safety laws to save lives. Which lowers insurance costs. I already pay plenty for insurance because others in my age group drive like crap and people in my area are drastically under-insured if at all. I'd never seen minimum coverage commercials before I lived in South Carolina.

I can't wait to turn 25. Then to the insurance companies I magically overnight become a better, more responsible driver who's worthy of lower rates that are still higher than women's. Because women drive better than men....

RE: Safety...
By timmiser on 10/3/2007 2:58:04 PM , Rating: 2
Efficiency laws already exist in various forms. The gas guzzeler tax that you pay for when you purchase a low mpg vehicle; requirements that a certain percentage of your vehicle base must include high mileage cars, etc.

RE: Safety...
By clovell on 10/2/2007 2:53:59 PM , Rating: 2
I'll just have a quarter life crisis - I can't wait for mid-life to get a sports car.

RE: Safety...
By mdogs444 on 10/2/07, Rating: 0
RE: Safety...
By mdogs444 on 10/2/2007 4:04:07 PM , Rating: 2
They wont pass an efficiency law. They can pass emissions laws all they want, but not efficiency.

As we determined last week in one of the articles on here....

A person who drives a car that get 30MPG but drives 60 miles per day is still using more gas than the guy who has a car that gets 15MPG and only drives 5 miles per day.

Efficiency is really in the eye of the beholder, and can relate what ever you want it to relate to.

RE: Safety...
By rcsinfo on 10/2/2007 8:09:00 PM , Rating: 2
They won't pass an efficiency law??

Now if you want to make the point that the law is full of loopholes such as classifying SUVs as buses, I won't disagree. But the US government has been regulating fuel efficiency since 1975.

RE: Safety...
By mdogs444 on 10/2/2007 8:19:49 PM , Rating: 2
LOL way too many loopholes. If you really read into it, its not designed to stop manufacturers from producing less fuel efficient cars. Its designed to increase the price of the car, while the government gets a "tax" on it of $5.50 per 0.1 mpg that it misses the cutoff.

Another reason that large motor cars cost more - suvs, american sports cars, etc.

Its really more of a "guideline" than a law, because it doesnt prohibit anyone from now following it.

RE: Safety...
By DeepBlue1975 on 10/2/2007 10:18:50 PM , Rating: 2
Not even ABS is mandatory by law, so no such kind of law could ever be even dreamt of being proposed.

It'd be like a law requiring everyone to drive a violet car because the gay side of a governor would say so :D

Laws about fuel efficiency, safety items (like ABS) can and, IMNSHO, should be issued.
I wouldn't agree on laws about passive security, but I would certainly like strict laws about active security devices, because those ones can keep many accidents from happening in the first place.

Heck, even though I really love driving, I'd love fully automatized driving systems to come alive and then a law requiring every single car out there to be able to self-drive and with no disengagement possibility in "normal circumstances".

RE: Safety...
By FITCamaro on 10/2/07, Rating: 0
RE: Safety...
By Brandon Hill on 10/2/2007 2:23:16 PM , Rating: 2
Well, that sucks for you :-)

I personally love smaller cars. I drive a Mazda 3s Hatchback and have no problems fitting in my car or in the back seat. My GF has a 2004 Civic EX Sedan and I also don't have an issue with it (comfort wise).

I've also driven smaller vehicles like the previous generation Echo and the Mini. Again, I felt entirely comfortable in all. Then again, I'm 5'10" and pretty thin.

I'm of the opinion that you should have just enough vehicle to suit your needs. I bought a hatchback b/c a sedan would never meet my cargo requirements.

RE: Safety...
By clovell on 10/2/2007 2:56:05 PM , Rating: 2
My last car was an ECHO, and I loved it - that thing was so nimble. I'm 6'2". Different strokes.

RE: Safety...
By jskirwin on 10/2/2007 3:09:29 PM , Rating: 2
I sympathize.
I have a soft-spot for the Honda Civic 4 door. It's a great little car with lots of OOMPH when you need it - at least the 5 speed comes with OOMPH standard (dunno about the automatic).

However try owning a home and relying upon a tiny car like this to do anything other than commute. No hauling drywall, a bathtub, studs, plywood, or even more than a bag or two of mulch. Forget shopping if you have kids, because there won't be anyplace to stash the groceries.

People don't buy minivans because they are cool; they buy them because they are useful. Ditto SUVs and pickups. Personally I'd like to have a small car to commute in, a larger sedan to go shopping/traveling in, and a pickup to use to buy stuff at Lowes. However I can't afford to have 4 cars, so I make do with a cute-ute and a slightly bigger SUV.

My carbon footprint? Still smaller than Al Gores.

RE: Safety...
By Ringold on 10/2/2007 3:18:47 PM , Rating: 2
To each their own; I test drove an Civic a couple years ago. Tried merging on to Interstate 4 here in Sanford.

Thank god that particular on-ramp was a little lengthy; I was flooring it and it was still accelerating much slower than I'd of liked. Also good that I was getting right back off without actually merging with traffic -- I did eventually get to 75 (the prevailing speed in the right lane), but only after I'd got past the point where I'd of needed to merge. It'd be a death trap, or at least a huge pain, at some of the shorter on-ramp and merging lanes, like the OBT one in Orlando.

To be fair, it was an automatic, but it was so vastly underpowered I don't know that it'd of made a difference. Also thought it was overpriced, but thats even more subjective.

RE: Safety...
By Spivonious on 10/2/2007 3:30:25 PM , Rating: 2
You do know that Lowes/Home Depot/etc usually offer delivery services for a small extra charge. I own a home and get along just fine with my hatchback. I would never even think of trying to haul a bathtub home. And if I fold the seats down I could fit roughly 25 bags of mulch.

And I'm not going to look up the numbers again, but for a previous article I compared cabin space between my Ford Focus ZX3 hatchback and the Ford Escape SUV. I had something like 150 more cubic feet.

People buy minivans because they have lots of kids to truck around. People buy SUVs because they think driving a big hunk of steel makes them better than me. Or maybe those 5'2" power suit-wearing 40-something women in the Suburban is just hiding her kids and drywall in the back. :P

Note: this is not a personal attack; it's an opinion, just like your post was.

RE: Safety...
By weskurtz0081 on 10/2/2007 4:00:54 PM , Rating: 2
When you live more than 1 hour away from Lowes or Homedepot, you do much of your shopping in the local towns and most of those places don't offer delivery for a lot of items.

When you have a lawn to mow, need to move a riding lawn mower, if you ever want to own a boat, or any number of different things. A car just won't cut it.

RE: Safety...
By FITCamaro on 10/2/2007 3:11:35 PM , Rating: 2
Thats fine. I agree with you as well. Buy what you need. I drive a Cobalt. I don't need a truck. But if I could afford a GTO, I'd be driving one of them. ;)

I've sat in a Mini. I wouldn't own one though. I had enough room for myself but beyond that, theres absolutely no room in them.

RE: Safety...
By mindless1 on 10/3/2007 4:31:50 AM , Rating: 2
Another perspective. I'm 5'11", not fat nor thin but built brick-house muscular. I feel constrained in even a Ford Explorer SUV, it is too cramped. I don't meant to be offensive, only an opinion, but a fat person brings along their own padding, needs less in the seating design to feel comfortable.

Honestly, the most comfortable ride I ever had was a '76 oldsmobile with thick padded bench seat. I hate thinner padded bench seats but if the padding is thick enough to contours to your shape, it can be better than a fixed-sized bucket or other contoured individual seating arrangement unless you like taking curves really fast. At that point it is just a matter of training oneself that their abdomen instead of the seat sides is keeping them upright.

On the other hand, total car size doesn't necessarily correspond to driver capsule space. On certain midsize and almost large sized cars like a Ford Taurus or Buick Centry, I find myself backing the seat up as far as it will go. granted, part of the reason is I don't sit slanted backwards like I'm in a recliner, but nevertheless I would never own a car that didn't have that level seat adjustment and as such, find most midsized cars constraining even being only of medium height.

A Civic makes me feel like tuna in a can. Maybe I just travel in cars too much, if my commute were only a few minutes it would matter less.

RE: Safety...
By DeepBlue1975 on 10/3/2007 9:13:47 AM , Rating: 2
Second that about hatchbacks.
It's been more than 10 years since I last had a sedan, and now the sole idea of driving a sedan again seems creepy to me.
95% of the time it's just me and my wife into the car (now I have a 5dr, but I like 3dr versions even better), and we rarely need to carry anything more than 2 bags.
Then again, when I need to carry a big TV or furniture, I find hatchbacks so much more suitable than sedans.
What's a huge boot capacity worthy of if the opening is not big enough to make really big things pass through it? :D

If ever a "1+1" car configuration becomes available, I'm surely going to look at it with a lot of interest :D

RE: Safety...
By Misty Dingos on 10/2/2007 2:57:07 PM , Rating: 2
Put giant foam bumpers on it. That way when it gets hit by a real car or truck it will just be 'nudged' out of the way.

You know folks the SUV is not a killer machine. The term has been demonized to the extreme.

Someone says. “I drive the Acme SUV 2000. It is a nice vehicle and gets decent mileage. ”

What people hear. “I drive the Acme SUV 2000 car crushing death dealer! I want your bones ground beneath my tires! I will use your children’s blood for oil in it if you cross my path! And if I have to drill through the heads of a million cute white furred baby harp seals to keep gasoline in my Acme SUV 2000 I will gladly do it!”

Oh by the way the Acme SUV 2000 is imaginary. Which means it doesn’t really exist.

RE: Safety...
By Kougar on 10/3/2007 3:54:59 AM , Rating: 2
How about you experience a Dodge Ram pickup plowing into the back of your car while you're making a ~10mph right-turn off a roadway, before you spout random nonsense. Foam bumpers do squat when the truck (or SUV) impacts the vehicle above your giant foam bumper. In my case it didn't matter anyway, he took it out along with the entire back end of my car.

The Dodge Ram pickup compacted the entire trunk against the back seat of the vehicle, foam bumper and all. The pickup only got away with a buffed up front end, but the Somerset had three tires blown out with the trunk solidly compressed against the rear wheels/axle, enough to lock both rear wheels in place and blow them out. It left me comletely turned around to face oncoming traffic head on but thankfully inside the parking lot I was turning into.

The Somerset is not remotely a small car in comparison to this thing or a Mini Cooper. That crash was on a 35mph road with moderate traffic using three lanes, it should never of happened. Airbags will not help if you are run over, especially the kind of truck/SUV that drives on oversized tires which would plow over this thing or a Mini Cooper alike. At least you won't live long enough to worry if the idiot had insurance.

RE: Safety...
By Misty Dingos on 10/3/2007 3:56:40 PM , Rating: 2
It is clear to me that you have no grasp of the concept of humor. Let me explain.

When I mentioned the use of "giant foam bumpers" it was a type of humor. Specifically sarcasm. I have found that using this punctuation (!) at the end of sentence indicates that sarcasm is being used. I am going to start using that as sarcasm is difficult to translate cross culturally. Shakespeare used it a lot and it worked for him but I am not that skilled a communicator. So I will just use the useful clues here and there.

Using giant foam bumpers large enough to actually be functional would be so large and so unwieldy that the car could not move them. So for you to take my comments literally is not useful nor will you benefit from the humorous aspect of the post.

Thus deprived of the humor in my post your day is not as bright and cheerful as it could have been. In fact it is likely the opposite, you likely said things about that twit that could make such a ludicrous comment. Probably something like this. “I nearly got killed and he is making jokes!”

But it was never my intent to minimize the danger of an auto accident. Been in a couple myself. I have never had a Dodge Ram make an impression on me like the one made on you. And I am happy to hear that you are recovered. I note though you blame the driver of the truck and not the vehicle itself. This is important an important distinction. Some people do indeed blame the vehicle and not the driver.

One other thing, if you had been struck by a smaller vehicle the result would likely have been very similar. How much damage the other vehicle suffered is probably not apparent to you as you were, rightly, concerned more with your own vehicle. From the amount of damage your car suffered I can not imagine the other vehicle combatant emerging from the fray as unscathed as you describe. It is either that or you car was made from something akin to aluminum foil.

There has not been to my knowledge at least an SUV that has gone out hunting people to maim or kill. SUVs don’t have a hidden agenda of depopulating the planet. They are just cars. You want to drive one, go right ahead. Just use your seat belt (because it is a good idea not because it is a law) and don’t drink and drive.

RE: Safety...
By Kougar on 10/5/2007 2:35:58 AM , Rating: 2
Thanks for the interesting reply. I do have a solid grasp of humor (or so I would like to think), however I will confess I have a problem of detecting it in online text without any cues. I will keep an eye peeled for said exclamation points in the future, but they don't specificly denote anything of the like to me.

I don't have anything against large vehicles, I would be driving the largest extended cab 4-door Silverado pickup if it was more in my price range. As you pointed out I do tend to take issue with a great many drivers though, holding a salad or a bowl of lunch in one hand and a fork in the other hand and driving with an elbow or knee is not something I can laugh about seeing people doing.

I was not exaggerating about the pickup though, as to his credit he at least turned around and came back to the scene. It scratched up his front bumper, and left one the corner of the bumper slightly hanging off the vehicle since he impacted at an angle to the rear of the car, and his grill and front end didn't impact the car at all. Just about all the force was transferred to/from the frame of his truck instead of the body work. My sister and I were wearing seat belts thank god, but the impact did cleanly snap the back of my drivers seat so it couldn't even stand upright.

RE: Safety...
By Hoser McMoose on 10/3/2007 7:30:52 PM , Rating: 2
I've said it before and I'll say it again:

Extra weight does NOT make a car safe, smart engineering DOES!

There are MANY 4000+ pound SUVs with extraordinarily poor safety records. The Chevy Blazer 2-door/2WD model, which weighed in at 4450 lbs gross weight, had the unenviable distinction of being the LEAST safe 4-wheeled vehicle in for the 2003 and 2004 model year (latest figures I've seen). At 232 driver fatalities per 100 million miles driven it was more than 3 times as bad as the national average of 79 fatalities per 100M miles.

Pick-up trucks generally do even worse, there are VERY few 4000+ pickup trucks that can match the safety record of a Toyota Echo or MINI Cooper. The Echo managed an above-average 70 driver fatalities per 100M miles driven, the Cooper was slightly better at 68 fatalities. Meanwhile Ford F250 4WD drivers suffered fatalities at a rate of 122 per 100M miles.


RE: Safety...
By Steve Guilliot on 10/4/2007 5:13:41 PM , Rating: 2
I sure hope as many people hassle SUV owners for making everyone else less safe as hassle small car buyers for making themselves less safe. (somehow with all the male hoorah!!! floating around here, I doubt it)

The answer to safety isn't for everyone to drive big vehicles. If so, we'd all be driving Mac trucks, and then no one is safer and everyone is poorer. Rather we should encourage others to drive smaller vehicles.

Government mandate is bad, agreed. But I think the vitriol is often misdirected.

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