Volkswagen's 214 mpg Twin Up! concept debuts in Tokyo


November 21, 2013

Twin Up! uses a 2-cylinder, 800 cc diesel engine in partner with a 35 kW electric motor to achieve its impressive mileage figures

Twin Up! uses a 2-cylinder, 800 cc diesel engine in partner with a 35 kW electric motor to achieve its impressive mileage figures

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Earlier this year Volkswagen announced production of its 261 mpg hyper-efficient XL1, but with an estimated $145,000 price tag it’s unlikely the hybrid will become a common fixture on most streets. The company’s Twin Up! hybrid concept, which made its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show yesterday, could however become a more reasonable option for the masses.

Cute as an inner-city button, Volkswagen’s new Twin Up! shares the same hybrid power configuration as the XL1, but without the sticker shock. By virtue a carbon fiber body and chassis, a drag coefficient of 0.30 Cd and a 2-cylinder, 800 cc diesel engine that works in partnership with a 35 kW electric motor, Volkswagen says the 2657 lb (1205 kg) car can make an astounding 214 mpg (1.09 L/100km). These figures would make the 1 liter Twin Up! the most efficient production car on the planet, and not too far behind the XL1 in terms of mileage bragging rights.

Unsurprisingly, performance figures of the Twin Up! aren't quite at supercar level, but they are definitely workable for an urban commuter. Volkswagen reports 0-100 km/h (62 mph) times of 15.7 seconds and a top speed of 140 km/h (87 mph) in hybrid mode. In electric mode only the Twin Up! has a top speed of 125 km/h (77 mph).

Volkswagen has chosen to go with a 7-speed DSG gearbox and with the 8.6 kWh battery and 33 liter gas tank mounted behind the rear seat, the concept is reported to provide a range of 50 km (30 miles) when running on electric power only. Total power output with both engines engaged is 74 horsepower and peak torque is 157 lb.ft (215 Nm).

The Twin Up! Hybrid system is designed so that the driver has control over when and where the electric is engaged, and when the diesel can come back into the equation via a “pulse start” system. This system is designed to seamlessly restart the diesel and bring it up to speed, thus avoiding any jolts upon engagement. Twin Up! uses regenerative braking to recharge the battery but also relies on “load point shifting” when running the TDI, which according to Volkswagen improves engine efficiency and feeds excess energy back into the charging system.

Inside, the tiny four-seater is decked out in Volkswagen’s “Ceramic” color scheme and features a user-configurable home screen designed specifically for the car. A dual-climate control system is mounted mid-dash that also shows air quality, temperature, energy efficiency and statistics for both drive systems.

While this is clearly a car designed with a high-volume production in mind, there's no word yet on when/if Volkswagen will bring the Twin Up! to production, or on what it will cost.

Source: Volkswagen

About the Author
Angus MacKenzie Born on the cold, barren Canadian plains of Calgary, Alberta, Angus MacKenzie couldn’t decide between marketing, automotives or an entrepreneurial path - so he chose all three. With an education in automotives and marketing, Angus has rebuilt the carburetor on his 1963 Rambler Ambassador twice, gotten a speeding ticket in an F430 once, and driven & photographed everything from Lamborghinis to Maseratis to various German and Asian designs. When not writing, Angus has for the past six years been Editor-in-Chief for elemente, an internationally recognized architecture/design magazine. All articles by Angus MacKenzie

complicated = expensive batteries & electric motor = expensive Did somebody mention carbon fiber?

Hardly anybody that could afford it would be willing to be seen in it.


A worthy thought, but if you have 4 people going anywhere, where do you put, for instance, grocery bags? What should be a boot (trunk?) is full of batteries.

The Skud

Apologies - Read th story, then checked out the pix. There appears, #15, to be a little space left at rear.

The Skud

We need a better way of comparing the economy of hybrids. Plug in hybrids such as the Volt should show the steady cruising range and economy after the battery has been exausted of its initial charge as well as the government combined figures for short trips. If I want to drive to Queensland from Melbourne (2000km approx) will the 33litre tank in the TwinUp get me there without re-fuelling ? I do think there is a place for hybrids but misleading fuel economy figures do not help.

Stephen Colbourne

They just are tricking the regulations with these hybrids. It's just in like Formula 1, you just have to find a way to go around the rules. This will not change until they will not implement a consuption cycle where a car is run until all kind of energy tank is depleted, then the consumption is calculated.


Carbon fibre has no place in road cars, unless in a part of the vehicle that is not likely to suffer impact damage, as it is prone to shattering into projectile shards in the event of a crash. Apart from that, it isn't a material that most body repairers will have been trained to deal with.


Good ol' Slowburn. Always in a hurry hatin' anything EV or even hybrid related. Yes carbon fiber was mentioned in regard to driving the XL1's price tag uphill. It escaped Your attention that This car is NOT the XL1.

The Up! seems like a perfectly viable intermediate solution towards a sustainable future if humanity survives to see it.

Don't even try to justify any of our average gas-guzzling toxic fumes spewing monsters of yesterday (with Your usual subsidies non-argument).

I told You before and I'll tell You again: Should You live to see old age, You'll see the inevitable decline of Fossil fuel burning vehicles. You will be able to dwell in atavistic nostalgia by visiting Your truck in a museum probably called "the human stupidity memorial".


This is mind-blowing!


Yeah, for the right price I think I could see myself in one of these....wonder if it'll take racks for my kayaks and what the extra drag will do to efficiency.

Bryan Paschke

It is insane that a small fuel efficient car is this expensive. All you need is a 600cc diesel engine running a small generator, a small bank of super-capacitors (perhaps linked with a small Li battery) and electric motors driving at least 2 wheels, to get 150-200mpg. How complicated is that? No complex transmission system that is cost-prohibitive to repair. It's not complicated, and maybe that's the problem. No one seems to be stepping up to create something that is affordable and fuel efficient. It certainly shouldn't cost over $30K to get something like that built in semi-mass production. VW values this car at $145K? What a joke! Maybe for a prototype. Fuel efficient cars are needed by everyone, not just the elite. VW (and everyone else for that matter) needs to step up and produce these cars in quantities enough to see affordability. And if they need someone to show them how to do it, I'd be more than happy to.


Totally agree with you Niko. Hopefully there will be battery breakthrough that is far better and less damaging to the world using cheap,common material. This world also needs a cleaner way to produce large amounts of electricity and fuel. Still using 2500 lbs to move one person most of the time seems totally wasteful and outdated,as well.


You can't miss the BMW logo on the building at Moses Lake, WA while driving I-90. Carbon fiber parts for the BMW M3 are produced there, with a bright future. Similarly, Idaho's governor and lite gov. made the trip from Boise to Coeur d'Alene Airport for the dedication of North Idaho College's Aerospace Facility. It's amazing that NIC president Priscilla Bell was able to obtain a $3 million grant, and within a year, VP/now president Joe Dunlap and Kassie Silvas had the curriculum and facility up and running with 39 students working toward their airframe composites construction and repair certification, with assistance from Boeing, Empire Airways and other businesses. They are able to use vacuum infusion and other techniques, besides "pre-preg" (fabrics pre impregnated with resins and catalysts) as they have the capability to deal with the vapor emissions. The future for the repair business in composites is huge and bright, as it includes smaller parts like snowmobile cowlings. Years ago, I drove a '69 VW Squareback in Montana and Idaho terrain. Despite the rudimentary mechanical Bosch fuel injection system, this vehicle consistently ran 36-40 miles per gallon. If that figure dropped, it was time to crawl underneath and adjust the valves, and perhaps the timing. You could do a lot yourself back then...

Charlie Branch

@ Niko EV and E-Hybrid are the least cost effective way to increase fuel economy and if it was not for government subsidies none of the major manufacturers would be fielding models. While carbon fiber has its uses the cost/benefit ratio for its use in body panels is wrong.

Make a 250 CC ultra-high compression constant output diesel that runs on a variety of high octane fuels such as alcohol or methane and deliver the power through a pneumatic or flywheel drive train and I'll be there. I just don't want any part of the expensive environmental disaster of an EV power train.


Love the concept - Im keeping my fingers crossed it goes further.


@ Slowburn

EV and E-Hybrid are far more cost effective than any ICE driven vehicle (with the possible future exception of hydrogen) IF one takes into account ALL COSTS including environmental - which You fail to do every single time.

"...and if it was not for government subsidies none of the major manufacturers would be fielding models."

Externalisation of environmental costs (the rape of nature) by big oil alone dwarfs any in comparison tiny amount of subsidies those EV manufacturers eventually get. Are You or any other reader capable to present some hard facts how much money EV manufacturers got in subsidies AND how much subsidies the "standard" car (and truck) industry got since inception?

Lobbied suppression of technology aside (does "Who killed the electric car" ring any bells?) the EV industry couldn't possibly get as much "free" money as the established car industry already got over the last 130 years.

"While carbon fiber has its uses the cost/benefit ratio for its use in body panels is wrong".

Always the futile money bias. Money (as it is now) does not reflect real cost. What has Henry Ford and Lotus in common? They both used hemp for body panels. Go figure why the use was discontinued...

"I just don't want any part of the expensive environmental disaster of an EV power train."

Disaster? Really? But are You fine with Deepwater Horizon events? What's that? A minor inconvenience?

Amory Lovins has a good idea: Stick your tail pipe into your passenger cabin - that might change one to reconsider the attitude towards fossil fuel burning vehicles.


First problem: High drag. Second: No curb weight given. Third: No honest or meaningful mileage given. Fourth: Sluggish.

I want an EV that has a range large enough to get me to my normal destination and back without charging until I get home. Thirty miles limits me to a 15 mile radius, which is pathetic. I want a burst of speed for merging on the freeway. I want extended range for road trips (HEV). I will pay up to $35K. More if it's sexy.

I will settle for 100+mpg ICE fueled by CNG. But no economic car will exist until the manufacturers realize that the basic platform must be aerodynamic, e.g., drag > .20, and lightweight, e.g., curb under 2K lbs.

Don Duncan

@ Niko

Tailpipe emissions can be controlled. I am old enough to remember the constant smog of the 70s. with far more oil burning cars on the road the are is much cleaner today.

What killed the electric car was that they could not sell enough at the price to pay for their production. But the greens are all collectivist nitwits that don't care about economic reality.


Don is spot on with the drag and weight. Another non propulsion related (and ignored) factor is rolling resistance.

Inefficiency is a problem and our current so-called economic system thrives on "solving" problems. If there is no problem, money can't be made. Therefore devices must consume more and break down as often as possible. An attitude as sane as was the Jerry Springer show audience!

"What killed the electric car was that they could not sell enough at the price to pay for their production." Yeah, right! That's why they took back how many 5000 (!?) EV1s and crushed them to (destroy the evidence of business as usual disrupting tech or officially) not to damage their "public image". 'cause these were some really useless cars ... mhm...

"Tailpipe emissions can be controlled." but you still die if you try to suck on them. Oh I forget - the fumes get spread all over and that's harmless.

Only a shortsighted nitwit thinks that present economics are a viable rule-set for managing all human (inter-)action. It's not about being "green" than it is about being sane. You've heard about the rumor that we live on a finite planet which ecosphere can't sustain infinite consumption/pollution?


@ Niko How do you go from more cars and less pollution to global destruction.

In the 1970s an effective way of killing moles was to pipe the exhaust from the car into the hole for a few minuets. a couple years ago an acquaintance's wife caught some mice with live capture traps. He tried to kill them by piping the exhaust from his 2005 car to them in a cage under a blanket for half an hour. Finding the disease vectors still alive he released them 50 miles from his house. The tailpipe is not near as deadly as you think.


More cars = less pollution -> if YOU say so it must be true.

How about: new cars -> inferior quality -> shorter product life -> more waste ...

I didn't say it kills in seconds, but cumulatively it is still deadly enough.

There are more than enough reasons not to have ICEs

If health doesn't concern You, the quadrupling of gas prices (or worse) eventually might.


@ Niko It takes being pretty special to say that stating the fact that we now have more cars and less pollution is say that more cars = less pollution. It just means that the pollution being generated by each car is now on average significantly less than it was in the 1970s and the trend is for further improvement.

I saw no indication that they compared the noise levels, the density of alternating magnetic fields, or the concentrations of artificially generated EM noise (radio waves).

There is no reason to believe that the real price of fuel is going to double in the next hundred year despite the predictions of the doom and gloom "Prophets" that have been consistently wrong for centuries now. Taxes will go up and the value of the currency will will drop but the price per liter of fuel (minus taxes) vs. kilo of whole wheat bread (minus taxes) will most likely remain similar.

As for improving the black cab emissions there are better options than going to spark ignition. I am assuming that they already are using ultra-low sulfur fuel and a catalytic converter so improve the converter by including the tech for Putting a filter on the exhaust to trap particle emissions. Possibly using this tech EVs are overly expensive and under performing. Getting the same performance out of a pneumatic vehicle would cost significantly less, allow for "fueling" a stuck on the side of the road car with a man portable "gas can" (liquid nitrogen or dry ice in an insulated container) and all at lower environmental impact than the extraction of the rare earth elements necessary for the batteries and motors for EVs.


Interesting idea, all I do know for sure, is getting on a freeway in Houston in a car with a 0-60 time of 15 sec and a top speed of 87MPH will get you killed..Yow...


Another alternative which was displayed 2012 Geneva Motor show is Tata Megapixel which is stated to hit the market in 2015 (India & EU).

Stated to have 110 KM/Litre or about 253mpg but with an expected price of USD 8000-10000 (at least in India, might cost a bit more in EU due to shipped and more expensive distribution)

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