For the Los Angeles show, Volkswagen's ubiquitous new minicar concept, dubbed Up!, alights the hybrid bandwagon (bandwagen?). It's a version of the more spacious Space Up! from the Tokyo auto show, powered by a novel fuel-cell hybrid drive system with solar support. The system's an outgrowth of VW's research in gas cells that operate at a higher temperature than traditional ones. VW engineers say the cells, which can reach temperatures of 248 degrees Fahrenheit, stand to be lighter, more compact, more stable and cheaper than lower-temperature ones. The cell can also charge a bank of lithium-ion batteries, which alone power the electric motor to a range of 65 miles. A roof-mounted solar panel provides additional wattage. Style wise, the hybridized Space Up! Blue gets some traditional VW cues, like windows reminiscent of the old 11-window Type 2s. Performance figures befit a car created more for inner-city use than open-road cruising: zero-to-62 mph in 13.7 seconds and a top speed of 75mph. Look for it in your grocer's freezer.
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