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VW debuts first all-electric production car, switches to carbon-dioxide refrigerant

The e-up has a range of close to 100 miles, but won’t be available in the US.

By Douglas Newcomb Mar 15, 2013 12:44PM

VW e-up! Photo by VW.Volkswagen introduced its first all-electric production car, the e-up, during a press conference at the company’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, this week.

The plug-in electric 4-seater e-up has a range of about 93 miles and operates with “nearly zero noise,” VW said in a statement.

VW described the e-up as “a car for daily use in the city,” but said it's also “ideal for commuters or as an innovative second car.” It added that the battery of the e-up can be recharged to as much as 80 percent of its capacity within 30 minutes, which is similar to other fast-charge systems on the market.

The company has no plans to bring the e-up to the U.S. It will be available in Europe later this year, after making its production-ready debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

VW said that the electric motor reaches a peak power of 60 kilowatts, although its continuous power is considerably less at 40 kW. Acceleration from zero to 60 mph takes 14 seconds, and the top speed is around 80 mph.

The lithium-ion battery that powers the e-up is integrated in the floor of the car. The e-up supports both DC and AC charging, and the standardized Combined Charging System -- a standard adopted by Volkswagen and seven other automakers last summer -- is available as an option.

The standard gasoline-powered up is the cheapest car on sale available with auto-braking that can stop the car by itself. Volkswagen didn't announce pricing, but we'd bet it'd be at least $35,000, or more than double that of a base up. At the Geneva Motor Show this month, Volkswagen introduced the XL1 plug-in diesel hybrid with a claimed 261-mpg rating and finally took the wraps off its Jetta Hybrid in Detroit.

In other efforts toward its goal to become “the world’s most environmentally sustainable carmaker by 2018,” VW announced it will be using carbon dioxide as the refrigerant for its future air-conditioning systems. Refrigerant-grade carbon dioxide is also known as R744, which VW said significantly reduces the greenhouse effect when compared with conventional refrigerants. VW said the use of the new refrigerant will be rolled out progressively over its entire vehicle fleet.

Like fellow German automaker Mercedes-Benz, VW is implementing the use of carbon dioxide as a refrigerant because of safety concerns that another automotive refrigerant, HFO-1234yf, could be flammable. Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler recently announced that it will no longer use HFO-1234yf in new vehicles, and is recalling vehicles that already use the chemical because of concerns of flammability.

But General Motors told Car and Driver that it’s currently using HFO-1234yf in the Cadillac XTS in the U.S. market and will roll out the introduction of the new coolant across its global vehicles over the next few years while “continuing to review” Mercedes’ findings.

VW e-up! Photo by VW.[Source: Volkswagen, Reuters, Car and Driver]

Mar 16, 2013 10:07AM
I like it for the reason if it gives good mileage without gas ;)
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