VW E-Up! electric concept at 2009 Frankfurt motor show

Published: 14 September 2009 Updated: 26 January 2015

This is Volkwagen’s latest Up! concept car, unveiled on the eve of the 2009 Frankfurt motor show. Called the E-Up! it’s VW’s fourth Up! concept – after three versions were unveiled in 2007 – and unlike the previous trio this one is front-wheel drive.

What’s the powertrain in this new VW E-Up! concept?

After the three original Up! concepts, this is VW’s fourth iteration. The previous three were rear-engined, rear-wheel drive 21st century recreations of the Beetle, but as VW moves closer to producing the Up! in 2011 it has revealed this Mk6 Golf-inspired facelifted front-drive concept. It also means all production Up! cars will be front-engined.

Power in the E-Up! comes from an electric motor that can deliver peak power of 80hp – but a constant 53hp – and 154lb ft. It means the E-Up! can hit 62mph in 11.3 seconds and reach 84mph flat out. The total weight, including 240kg of lithium-ion batteries, is 1085kg

The batteries have a 18kWh capacity, which should allow for an 80-mile range, while VW reckons a charging station could give the E-Up! an 80% charge in 60 minutes, or five hours from a domestic plug. The batteries are housed under the floor of the E-Up!, and a solar panel in the roof also help increases the charge.

What about the interior?

Inside the E-Up! is a iQ-style 3+1 seating arrangement, meaning the front passenger seat is mounted 50mm ahead of the driver’s seat. There’s an 80-litre boot, which increases to 320 litres when the seats are folded. And like the miniamilast exterior, the cabin is kept clean and simple, with manual controls for the windows and mirrors, and one touchscreen to control the E-Up!’s main systems.

The first Up!s will be built in 2011 at the Volkswagen Group’s Bratislava plant in Slovakia, and VW, Seat and Skoda will all produce three- and five-door versions.

At the unveiling of the E-Up!, VW Group Chairman Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn also dropped heavy hints at a production electric version. ‘Cars with pure petrol and diesel engines – which in the foreseeable future will continue to be unbeatable for mid- to long-range distances – will be supplemented by cars like the E-Up! in coming years,’ said Winterkorn. ‘And that will happen starting in 2013. The concept now being presented in Frankfurt very realistically shows how we envision such a Volkswagen with pure electric drive technology, visually and in terms of size.’

>> Click ‘Add your comment’ below and let us know what you think of the new VW E-Up! Would you buy one over a Toyota iQ now it’s reverted to a conventional front-drive layout.

By Ben Pulman

Ex-CAR editor-at-large