Mike Stevens | Aug 25, 2011

Volkswagen's upcoming Up! city car will launch with a petrol-powered heart, but the builder of the people's car has promised an electrified version will hit the market in 2013.

Next month, we'll get a taste of the latest development in Volkswagen's E-motion programme, with the debut of a new all-electric one-seater concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

While the idea of a single-occupant electric vehicle is nothing new, Volkswagen research chief Jürgen Leohold describes the coming concept as "a new kind of mobility, a new vehicle concept".

“Also, it’s physics. If you limit a car to one person, you can make it smaller, less weight, you need less energy to transport the person, and then obviously, it can be better on CO2 and fuel efficiency," he added.

With Leohold keeping mum on the more substantive details, it remains to be seen if the concept is "just another" electric vehicle concept (albeit a preview of Volkswagen's production E-motion range), or something revolutionary.

Volkswagen has previously confirmed a 2013 deadline for the launch of its electric vehicle range, with the next-generation Golf hatch and the diminutive E-Up! expected to be the line's main focus.

"Volkswagen will be taking E-mobility to mass production. In 2011, we are expanding our test fleet by adding 500 Golfs with electric drive. A hybrid version of the Jetta for the US market follows in 2012," Volkswagen CEO Dr Martin Winterkorn said last year.

Following the introduction of the E-Up in 2013, Volkswagen plans to launch an onslaught of electric vehicles, including the E-Golf and the E-Jetta. Future models beyond 2013 will be engineered from the outset to accommodate full electric powertrains.

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