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VW unveils electric e-Up (2013) at Frankfurt motor show

Fri, 15 Mar 2013

VW is dipping its toes into the electric car pool with its first battery vehicle: an electric Up city car. Christened the 'e-Up', it's not a special edition for Yorkshire only, but rather a silent, zero-emission EV that VW reckons is the perfect commuter's tool. Read on for the full spec.

Tell me about the VW e-Up's powertrain

Instead of a three-cylinder petrol engine, the e-Up is propelled by a single electric motor. The powerplant develops up to 81bhp (7bhp more than the most powerful petrol Up) and 155lb ft from standstill (conventional Ups muster less than half that, at 3000rpm!). It's all juiced by an 18.7 kWh battery mounted under the cabin floor to keep the car’s centre of gravity as low as possible, aiding agility.

So is the e-Up faster than a regular-engined VW Up?

No, thanks to the batteries bloating the car's kerbweight by 256kg to 1185kg. VW claims the e-Up will scuttle up to 62mph in 14sec – a 74bhp petrol Up takes 13.2sec. Top speed in the 'leccy model is 83mph, while a petrol Up is good for up to 106mph. However, we'd bet the torquey e-Up feels plenty nippy enough in stop-start city traffic.

But electric cars have a tiny range and take ages to charge!

The VW e-Up is no grand tourer, but its claimed 93-mile range should be plenty for most city-dwellers, and that’s 30 miles further that a Renault Twizy will take you on one charge. On the subject of plugging in, VW reckons you'll manage an 80% battery charge in 30 minutes.

When can I buy an electric VW Up?

The VW e-Up will be officially launched at the Frankfurt motor show in September 2013. Order books will open shortly after, and though no official pricing data has been released, it's expected the E-Up will be the dearest model in the Up family, which currently ranges from £8095 to £11,830. The e-Up's closest rival, Renault's electric Zoe supermini, costs from £13,650 – plus a £70 per month battery lease. The Renault has an identical 93-mile range (and an equally silly name, for a car.)

Should I wait for the diesel-hybrid VW Up?

If you're still an electric car-sceptic, you'll be better off waiting for the hybrid VW Up. According to VW R&D boss Ulrich Hackenberg, VW plans to use a tweaked diesel-electric powertrain pinched from the space-age XL1 in the Up, good for an estimated 256mpg. You can read the full VW tech interview with Dr. Hackenberg by clicking here.

By Ollie Kew