Wednesday, November 14, 2007

LA 2007: space up! blue is third sibling in up! family

As promised, Volkswagen delivered the third up! concept at the Los Angeles Motor Show. Called the space up! blue, it really isn't anything we haven't seen before in terms of styling. Like it or not, it follows the same design cues from the up! family, specifically, that of the space up! Really, nothing is different on the outside, except for some solar panels on the roof. More on that in a little bit.

What Volkswagen is really showcasing at this year's LA show is how green the space up! blue is. Blue, of course, is Volkswagen's green colour for anything that is environmentally friendly (BlueMotion, for example). The space up! blue takes the fuel economy to new levels by totally removing the engine and replacing it with a hydrogen fuel cell and and array of twelve ion-lithium batteries. The space up! blue can run on the batteries alone for a distance of 65 miles, while the hydrogen fuel cells extend that range by 155 miles to a total of 220 miles on a single "charge". The solar panels on the roof also provide extra energy (150 watts) for the batteries.

The real show stopper here though is not so much the fuel cells themselves as it is the technology. This is the first practical application of Volkswagen's high temperature fuel cell (HT-FC), first announced around this time last year. HT-FC provides considerable weight reduction, greater usability, and lower costs as compared to other fuel cell setups. With the space up! blue concept, fuel cells are closer to mass production than ever before.

Press release and photos after the jump.

Source: Volkswagen

To the Point: The space up! blue
Clean Drive Revolution "Made in Germany"

Volkswagen presents the first car in the world with high-temperature fuel cell

space up! blue covers downtown distances with pure battery drive

Wolfsburg / Los Angeles, November 2007. Powertrain revolution in California: Volkwagen is presenting the space up! blue concept car at the Los Angeles Auto Show (November 14 to 25) as a world exclusive – a compact, self-confident zero emissions van in the style of the legendary Volkswagen Samba Bus. On board: the world's first high temperature fuel cell and an array of twelve lithium-ion batteries. When the electric motor (45 kW / 61 PS) of the space up! blue is driven exclusively by battery, a range of 65 miles is possible – enough to handle nearly all distances in downtown areas. In the scenario of tomorrow's world, the four-seat Volkswagen is advancing to become the ideal vehicle for anyone who wants to drive – completely emissions-free – to work, recreation, school or university or just shopping.

Energy is "refueled" either via an electrical outlet or by the Volkswagen high-temperature fuel cell. In the latter case, the car's range is extended an additional 155 miles. This makes it possible to drive up to 220 miles on a single "energy charge". Aside from this, the microvan utilizes another energy source: the sun. And indeed with a large solar panel on the roof. It supplies up to 150 Watt of energy that is also fed into the battery. With its new high temperature fuel cell (HT-FC) Volkswagen is introducing a system that represents a turning point in research on fuel cells for mass production. That is because, the 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 someday as a mass produced technology. The high temperature fuel cell was developed at a dedicated research center founded by Volkswagen in Germany.

With its concept car being shown in Los Angeles, Europe's most successful car producer is introducing the third variant of its "New Small Family" within just two months. Like the city specialist, the up!, already introduced at the IAA in Frankfurt, and the space up! presented in Tokyo, the space up! blue is a small space wonder too. Over a length of just 144.9 inches, a height of 61.8 inches and a width of 64.2 inches, it offers the space of a considerably larger vehicle. The clever space concept of the space up! blue – which is 1,090 kilograms "light" despite the fuel cell and batteries – is largely due to the layout of the powertrain. Its emissions-free electric motor operates – as did the engines of the Beetle and the Bulli (Microbus) at one time – in the rear. Also housed in the rear, under the rear seat to be exact, are the lithium-ion batteries. The high temperature fuel cell, on the other hand, is located at the front of the car.


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