Transport Theory

VW up! hopes to shake up small car market

VW up! hopes to shake up small car market

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Volkswagen's new model, the up!, promises to combine fuel economy, space efficiency, safety features, and accessible financing options for the urban driver.

It's official: Volkswagen is set to release its newest model, the diminutive up! - yes, the exclamation point is part of its name - in Europe in December.

With the up!, Volkswagen hopes to shake up the small car market. At 11.6 feet long, 5.4 feet wide, and 4.9 feet tall, the model will be one of the smallest 4-seat cars.

“If the goal is to maximize space, the ideal form for a small car would be a rectangular box," said Klaus Bischoff, Head of Design for the Volkswagen Brand. "In the up! we were able to sculpt such a box with a clean and powerful design that does not lose sight of space utilization.”

The car is intended for the urban driver and will sport high fuel efficiency and safety standards. It will be the first small car with optional City Emergency Braking - which employs a laser sensor at speeds under 19 mph. Depending on the situation, the car will brake automatically, reducing the risk of collisions.

The up! will be debuted at the Frankfurt auto show next month. It will feature three 1.0-liter three-cylinder gas BlueMotion engines, and an electric up! is expected to debut in 2013. The car will be available in three versions: the entry-level take up!, the comfort-oriented move up!, and the higher-end high up!

According to an emailed statement, a flexible financing plan called AutoCredit2 will "make the goal of driving a safe and economical new car more attainable than ever. Like the Beetle back in the 1950s, one could say that the up! is once again 'democratizing' car driving."

No word yet on when we can expect to see the up! in the U.S., but it will be interesting to see what effect the car has on the European small car market.

Photos: Volkswagen

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Channtal Fleischfresser

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Channtal Fleischfresser has worked for The Economist, WNET/Channel 13, Al Jazeera English, Wall Street Journal and Associated Press. She holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure