Volkswagen's space up! blue concept
Volkswagen's space up! blue concept

Volkswagen today unveiled the third and most advanced iteration yet of the up! family of concept vehicles at the Los Angeles Motor Show.

Named space up! blue and taking its visual inspiration and drivetrain layout from the classic 1950s Samba Bus, the concept vehicle is powered by a pioneering high-temperature fuel cell linked to a series of 12 lithium-ion batteries. The innovative power sources are linked to a rear-mounted electric motor developing 61 PS and  88 lbs ft of torque. The only by-product of this highly efficient drivetrain is pure water.

Relying solely on the bank of lithium-ion batteries, which have a combined energy capacity of 12 kilowatt-hours, the space up! blue has a range of around 65 miles. When drawing energy from the high temperature fuel cell a range of 155 miles is possible – bringing the vehicle’s maximum theoretical range to 220 miles.

The new drivetrain is fully integrated into the space up! blue concept with a bank of solar panels built into the roof of the vehicle to allow the charge in the lithium-ion batteries to be topped up at all times when light falls on them.  The high-temperature fuel cell meanwhile produces electric energy from compressed hydrogen, stored in a pair of secure tanks beneath the vehicle.

The innovative high temperature fuel cell developed by Volkswagen has several advantages over a conventional low-temperature fuel cell. The high temperature version is far more efficient as it converts more of the energy in the hydrogen into electrical energy.  Furthermore it is less complex and does not require the same cooling systems demanded by a low-temperature variant – which also significantly reduces the packaging and therefore cost requirements of the cell unit.

Running on purely battery power the space up! blue is capable of reaching 62 mph in 13.7 seconds before reaching a top speed of 75 mph.

In design, the space up! blue continues the mix of clean surfaces and sharp, cohesive lines that define the look of the up! family which now comprises the up!, space up! and space up! blue.  As well as featuring a recessed solar panel the roof of the space up! blue features a set of glass skylights reminiscent of the classic Samba Bus.

Despite being capable of carrying four adults in comfort and a total of 220 litres of luggage capacity the space up! blue’s dimensions remain modest, measuring 3680 mm long, 1569 mm high and 1630 mm wide.

The space up! blue’s interior, accessed through a pair of wide butterfly doors that hinge from both the A- and C-pillars, features a unique mix of advanced, touchscreen interfaces and innovative materials.  Many of the surfaces are constructed out of recycled materials – the instrument panel and the door mouldings are made out of organic plastics or biopolymers.

Development of production versions of the up! family of vehicles is underway with the aim of bringing a road-going version to the market before the end of the decade.

Published : 15/11/07 Author : Melanie Carter

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