Volkswagen might have been making limited-run electric cars for more than thirty years, but its first mass-produced electric car — the tiny Volkswagen e-UP — will begin deliveries in the UK next month. As Volkswagen detailed on Friday, you’ll be able to buy one for £24,250 on the road (£19,250 after £5,000 government grant).
With seating for four, the e-Up is based on Volkswagen’s existing Up gasoline city car, and features a 60 kilowatt front-wheel drive electric motor capable of producing 210 Nm (154.8 ft lb) of torque. Power comes from an 18.7 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack mounted under the car’s floor, which is enough to give an NEDC rating of 99 miles per charge.
But as Volkswagen is painfully aware, the NEDC driving cycle is notoriously optimistic about real-world EV ranges, leading it to to quote an average range of between 75 to 103 miles in summer and 50 to 75 miles in winter earlier this year to Autocar. In its press release on Friday announcing the e-Up pricing, VW had chosen to quote 93 miles as the car’s range, which we think is still a little on the high end: we think 70-80 mies is more likely.
Much like its gasoline sibling, the e-Up is built for practicality in a busy city, not performance. As a result, 0-62 mph takes 12.4 seconds, but 0-37 mph is achieved in a much more acceptable 4.9 seconds. That’s more than quick enough to sprint from light to light. Meanwhile, top speed is an electronically-limited 81 mph.
In keeping with other electric variants of existing gasoline cars, the e-Up features its own styling accents to differentiate it from its dinosaur-burning sibling: in addition to the prominent e-Up badges on the front wings and boot lid, LED running lights and contrast blue stitching on its leather interior remind you that this car is powered by electricity, not gasoline.
Just like the Volkswagen eGolf — which is due to launch some time next year — the e-Up features steering wheel mounted paddle shifters which allow the driver to control the amount of regenerative braking which takes place when they lift off the accelerator. There’s five levels to choose from, ranging from the default D mode — which gives no regenerative braking on accelerator liftoff and is essentially a ‘coast’ mode — all the way through D1, D2, and D3 to B — which gives the most severe accelerator liftoff regenerative braking.
In D2, D3 and B modes, VW says the e-Up’s brake lights automatically illuminate, since the level of regenerative braking is so large that it can quickly slow down the car under certain circumstances.
As well as selecting how much regenerative braking is applied on accelerator liftoff, the VW e-Up also comes with two additional drive modes: Eco and Eco +. In eco mode, the e-Up’s motor power is limited to 50 kilowatts, the throttle is remapped to encourage more gentle driving, and the air conditioner’s output is reduced. In Eco + mode, the car is limited to 40 kilowatts of power, while the air conditioning is disabled.
Volkswagen says the VW e-Up will offer an interior specification on par with the top-spec gasoline model, with heated front seats, cruise control and satellite navigation. Extras unique to the e-Up, include heated front windscreen, DAB digital radio and Smartphone connectivity via VW’s Car Net services. Car Net comes free for there years, says VW, and allows the owner to not only remotely monitor their car’s state of charge and turn on cabin preconditioning, but also to collect driving data, locate the car, and control car locking and lighting.
As previously detailed, buyers of the e-Up will be given the option to sign up to a 100% renewable tariff from electric-car friendly utility company Ecotricity.
As we’ve not yet driven the e-Up — we’re going to some time in January — we’re not ready to pass judgement on the VW e-Up’s price, which comes with the battery pack included in the price without any option for battery rental. Compared to other cars offering battery packs with the car, this makes the e-Up cheaper than the base-model Nissan LEAF Visia, and on par with the Smart ForTwo ED Coupe.
That said, the VW e-Up seems to include far more in its base-specification than either the LEAF or the Smart ForTwo, but with only four seats and limited luggage carrying capabilities due to its form factor, the VW e-Up will likely suit younger buyers rather than those with children.
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