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by Brett Davis

Volkswagen has unveiled five Volkswagen Up! concept cars at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. Each concept comes in its own distinct theme: the Volkswagen e-Up!, Volkswagen eco-Up!, Volkswagen Up! azzurra sailing team, Volkswagen cross Up!, and the Volkswagen GT Up!.

As the name suggests, the Volkswagen e-Up! is a fully electric version of the recently revealed Volkswagen Up!. Details of the electric powertrain haven’t been released but the super-compact electric Up! is set for production. Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, member of the board of management for Volkswagen, recently announced, “It has been decided: a production version of the e-up! will launch on the market in 2013”. We’ll provide full details closer to its launch.

Next up is the Volkswagen eco-Up!. It features a more eco-friendly powertrain as opposed to the petrol version, using a natural gas-powered engine. The eco-Up! also combines the gas power technology (EcoFuel) with Volkswagen’s BlueMotion technology, which ties in start/stop and a regenerative braking system. Overall emissions output is rated at just 79g of CO2/km. Volkswagen, interestingly, says the EcoFuel technology is more economical in the long run compared with a hybrid setup. Volkswagen said in a recent release,

“When used in the smallest vehicle class, natural gas drives, besides posting record low emissions, are significantly more economical than hybrid systems, which are too expensive for the small car segment.”

Stepping up a notch, in terms of concept wow-factor, is the Volkswagen Up! azzurra sailing team. It features a complete open-air cabin with no B-pillar or roof. The two doors are also reduced down to just a single beam frame compared with a normal Up!. The open-top was designed by Italian designers Giorgetto Giugiaro and Walter de Silva with a distinct sailing boat character.

Next up is the Volkswagen cross Up!. This is Volkswagen’s idea of a four-door Up! which is said to be in the pipeline for future production. Apart from the addition of two doors, the Volkswagen cross Up! features a beefier body with sill extensions and pumped wheel arches.

Lastly, the Volkswagen GT Up!. This is what Volkswagen envisions as a sports GTI version of the Up!. Volkswagen sees an engine producing up to 74kW of power which would propel the 900kg hatch from 0-100km/h quicker than any other Up! variant. Volkswagen is yet to announce if such a model is being planned for the future.

What do you think of the Volkswagen Up! concepts? Is there any in particular that you’d like to see hit the market?