A new natural gas-powered Volkswagen Up! has been launched, with the German powerhouse claiming the Volkswagen Eco Up! is the world's most fuel-efficient natural gas passenger car in the world.
The enviro-friendly Volkswagen Eco Up! uses a newly developed version of the 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine found in the standard Volkswagen Up!, generating 50kW of power and 90Nm of torque, while consuming 2.9kg of compressed natural gas (CNG) per 100km – equivalent to emissions of 79 grams of CO2 per kilometre.
While no speed-demon – the Eco Up! hits 100km/h from a standstill in 15.8 seconds and has a top speed of 168 km/h – the environmental Up! is no one-trick pony. The Eco Up! not only has the ability to run on natural gas, but can also be powered by alternative fuels such as renewable biomethane obtained from plant by-products, as well as conventional petroleum.
Sporting two underfloor natural gas tanks that combine for a total volume of 72 litres (11kg) of CNG, and a 10-litre petrol reserve tank, the Eco Up! sees CO2 emissions reduced by 24 per cent compared with petrol engines when run on pure natural gas.
Volkswagen says that when fuelled with pure biomethane, the Eco Up! emits up to 97 per cent less CO2, which in a ‘well-to-wheel’ analysis – from raw materials sourced to the final drive unit – is comparable to cars that employ fuel cell technology or pure battery-powered electric vehicles.
The use of natural gas is not a new concept for Volkswagen, which has been equipping vehicles with natural gas drives since the 1990s, initially as a retrofit before the 2002 release of its first new car model designed for natural gas the Volkswagen Golf Estate 2.0 BiFuel.
Volkswagen Australia has no plans to bring the Volkswagen Eco Up! to Australia, leaving the conventional petrol Up! to continue flying solo. Since its October launch, 475 Volkswagen Up! models have been sold locally.