Volkswagen e-Up: The First Fully Electric Vehicle from Wolfsburg
Despite internal concerns about the practicality of electric vehicles, Volkswagen has gone ahead and developed its first fully electric car. The brand’s Up minicar will be offered with a 55-hp electric motor and a 18.7-kWh lithium-ion battery pack beginning this fall. When factoring in a curb weight of 2612 pounds, Wolfsburg’s first attempt at an EV appears destined for comparisons with another German electric: Smart’s Fortwo Electric Drive.
While 55 horsepower may sound awfully weak, output can be upped to 82 horsepower for brief sprints. Maximum torque—available from a standstill, of course—is rated at 155 lb-ft. Volkswagen claims the e-Up will complete the sprint from zero to 62 mph “within 14 seconds,” and its top speed is 84 mph. That’s not impressive—well, it’s less unimpressive when considering the Fortwo ED took 23.4 seconds to reach 60 and topped out at 63 mph in our testing—but it will allow drivers to keep up with freeway traffic. A prototype we drove last year failed to “wow” us, but it worked well for an electric vehicle, and it displayed remarkable refinement. We did notice, however, that it lost some steam above 45 mph.
Volkswagen claims a range of up to 93 miles, which we suspect is, perhaps, optimistic. (We’re also convinced that driving at freeway speeds will significantly diminish the e-Up’s ability to maximize its range.) Volkswagen also says that the electric minicar can be charged up to 80 percent in as little as 30 minutes, but it’s not specified what sort of charging device and network is required to achieve such speeds. The brand also wouldn’t reveal how long a full charge to a depleted battery pack would take.
The Up’s attractive styling is slightly altered with wraparound LED lighting elements in the front and rear reflectors. Bespoke, aerodynamically styled 15-inch aluminum wheels are fitted with 165/65 Dunlop tires. Inside, the instrument cluster and the central display are modified to reveal the vehicle’s charge. Further differentiation from conventionally powered Ups is made inside by unique stitching, and added leather and chrome.
- First Drive: 2015 Volkswagen Golf
- Long-Term Road Test Wrap-Up: 2011 Nissan Leaf SL
- Instrumented Test: 2012 Ford Focus Electric
Pricing for the e-Up is another factoid Volkswagen has declined to provide, but we expect a noticeable increase over the standard Up’s $12,100 (at today’s exchange rates) base price. As even the gasoline-sipping Up isn’t available for American consumption, we’re not holding our breath for its electrified brother to be available stateside, either.
By Jens Meiners