While some automakers are following the hybrid path to improved fuel economy, and some milk the most from clean diesels, VW has found a middle road: Just do both. The company’s new Up Lite concept vehicle, revealed for the first time at the 2009 LA Auto Show, gets 70 mpg through the use of both a clean diesel engine and a secondary electric drive train.
A tiny 0.8-liter, two-cylinder diesel engine thrums away at the heart of the Up Lite, providing 51 horsepower and up to 88 foot pounds of torque, while an electric motor can kick in an additional 13 horses when needed, tool the car around on its own in town, and even provide boost.
Above and beyond its clever powerplant, the Up Lite also harnesses aluminum and carbon fiber to lighten the load, an aerodynamic profile to minimize drag (the side mirrors have even been replaced by cameras), and a seven-speed transmission to smartly lay power to the ground.
Although the Up Lite remains a concept for the time being, VW representatives insist the technologies at play have all been tested in the real world, with price standing as the main barrier to bringing such a car to market.