Volkswagen Eco-Up: Natural gas is a real miracle fuel


Natural gas is a real miracle fuel

Volkswagen Eco-Up: Natural gas is a real miracle fuel-natural

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As an Eco-Up with natural gas drive, the VW Up costs 2975 euros extra. At today’s gasoline and gas prices…

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Volkswagen Eco-Up: Natural gas is a real miracle fuel-miracle

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… this investment pays off after around 55,000 kilometers.

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Volkswagen Eco-Up: Natural gas is a real miracle fuel-eco-up

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That is a long distance for a small car, it corresponds to a term of a good five years.

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Volkswagen Eco-Up: Natural gas is a real miracle fuel-eco-up

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The two natural gas tanks in the Eco-Up are located under the trunk and under the seat, the trunk volume is reduced by 40 to 211 liters.

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Volkswagen Eco-Up: Natural gas is a real miracle fuel-natural

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When you look into the engine compartment, you cannot see that this car can run on natural gas, and that too…

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Volkswagen Eco-Up: Natural gas is a real miracle fuel-natural

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… in the cockpit hardly anything has changed compared to the petrol variant. If you take a closer look, …

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Volkswagen Eco-Up: Natural gas is a real miracle fuel-eco-up

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… but you discover a double fuel gauge. The small display on the left is responsible for the ten-liter petrol tank; it is active for two seconds after starting. After that, die large display for the gas tanks.

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Volkswagen Eco-Up: Natural gas is a real miracle fuel-miracle

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When the gas range is only 70 kilometers, there is a message in the navigation system. Then you can…

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… display natural gas or biogas filling stations nearby.

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Volkswagen Eco-Up: Natural gas is a real miracle fuel-natural

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Filling up with gas is only slightly more complicated than dispensing gas. The most important difference: you have to…

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Volkswagen Eco-Up: Natural gas is a real miracle fuel-eco-up

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… lock the tap on the nozzle. The mechanism for this does not belong to the car, but to the gas pump.

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Volkswagen Eco-Up: Natural gas is a real miracle fuel-volkswagen

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The Eco-Up logo stands for a high price (12,975 euros) and extremely low CO2 emissions (79 g / km).

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Refueling with the natural gas powered Eco-Up costs three euros per 100 kilometers. The energy content of the fuel is impressive. But by optimizing consumption, the engine seems a bit strained. can also be expensive. With the Eco-Up, VW is now launching the most economical series-production car ever, at the gas station you can theoretically fill it up for around three euros per 100 kilometers. This is due to the natural gas drive, which unfortunately makes the whole car a handsome investment again.

12,950 euros in the basic configuration – so the Eco-Up costs exactly 2975 euros more than the basic model. You could argue with a slightly higher engine power in favor of the natural gas-up, but when driving you don’t necessarily feel that the car has 68 instead of 60 hp.

The engine seems a bit strained

In favor of extremely low gas consumption, the ratio of the five-speed transmission has been extended, which gives the Eco-Up a slightly higher top speed of 164 km / h. But it will take some time before he gets there.

The engine seems rather strained, because of the two natural gas tanks in the rear and other adjustments it has to drag 1031 instead of 929 kilograms. In contrast, the light 60 hp model (with 95 instead of 90 Newton meters of torque) feels more acceptable. And the 75 PS variant (from 10,575 euros) is almost brisk.

27.5 seconds from 80 to 120 km / h

In figures: the basic petrol engine accelerates to 100 km / h in 14.4 seconds, the 75 hp model does this job in 13.2 seconds, but the Eco-Up takes time: 16.4 seconds pass before the car 100 km / h is fast. Or pulling through from 80 to 120 km / h in fifth gear: 27.5 seconds with natural gas, 25.5 seconds with the 60 hp petrol engine, 22.0 seconds with the 75 hp model.

You have to know that exactly because buying a natural gas car is something for rationally thinking people. They are aware that they will pay a surcharge and are betting on the future in which their expenditure will be amortized (according to VW after 55,000 kilometers). You think through all the details and you should learn that this car is not for those in a hurry.

The test car sounds pretty rough

And not for friends of quiet engine running either. The three-cylinder of the Up already growls more than usual four-cylinder engines. But with natural gas as the fuel, this effect seems to have increased.

A VW spokesman says that the three-cylinder has not been significantly changed, after all, it still runs on premium gasoline: If the Eco-Up runs out of gas, it automatically switches to a tiny extra tank with ten liters while driving volume.

Natural gas is a miracle fuel

If you accept these three restrictions (the high price, the tough temperament and the grumpy character), you can expect pure joy in everyday life with the Eco-Up. Above all, refueling will be fun, and your conscience can be as calm as that of an electric car driver. Sometimes even quieter.

Because, what few people know, natural gas is a real miracle fuel. "The combustion of one kilogram of gasoline produces 3.14 kilograms of carbon dioxide," says VW Development Board Member Ulrich Hackenberg, "with natural gas it is only 2.75 kilograms. In addition, natural gas has a 16 percent higher energy content. ”Simply by choosing natural gas as a fuel, a car’s CO2 emissions can be reduced by 25 percent.

3.5 kg / 100 km on the first test lap

The Eco-Up comes to 79 grams per kilometer, which means that it is not only below all other cars that you can currently buy, but above all very well below the target that the EU Commission Volkswagen has set for 2020. 95 grams is the brand for the group, 96 grams for the VW brand (the limit values ​​are flexible, they also have to do with the weight of the cars).

The stated CO2 emissions are of course linked to the standard consumption, which usually has only marginally to do with the actual consumption. During the first short test lap of almost 50 kilometers, mainly on country roads, the Eco-Up consumed 3.5 kilograms of natural gas per 100 kilometers, according to the on-board computer, and exceeded the factory specification by 0.6 kilograms.

Premium gasoline costs more than twice as much

The kilogram is an exotic unit of measurement for refueling, and it has certainly played its part in ensuring that only a minority use this alternative fuel at all. "With 97,000 registered natural gas cars, Germany is not one of the countries that are setting the pace," admits VW manager Hackenberg. A look at Italy shows the potential: There are 785,000 cars that use natural gas.

The price of natural gas in Germany is very low thanks to a strong tax subsidy. You currently pay around 1.05 euros per kilo, and to get the same energy for the car you would have to fill up with 1.5 liters of petrol or 1.3 liters of diesel, i.e. around 2.40 or 1.85 euros.

From 2018 natural gas will unfortunately become more expensive

The tax relief will still apply until 2018, when natural gas refueling will be more expensive. Today there are 19 cents in taxes on the kilo, then it will be 43 cents. If the raw material price did not change for either natural gas or petrol, a CNG driver would still have an advantage: 1.29 to 2.40 euros.

VW offered its first natural gas model 20 years ago, the Golf Variant, at that time still in the so-called bivalent version. The car had natural gas tanks and a normal petrol tank at the same time, today many CNG cars are designed as monovalent. But that does not mean that there is no more gasoline, only the tank is smaller, namely a maximum of 15 liters.

Only 900 matching petrol stations

That has to be the case, since of around 17,000 filling stations in Germany only a good 900 carry CNG. Investments of around 250,000 euros are necessary for each dispenser, which is why some tenants think twice.

It is a variant of the chicken-and-egg problem: must the infrastructure first be in place for the products to arrive, or do the manufacturers have to put cars on the road so that the oil companies can retrofit?

The eco-golf is coming next year

As it stands, at least the Volkswagen group is planning to go into submission. In addition to the Eco-Up, which theoretically can drive 380 kilometers on gas and another 220 on petrol, an Eco-Golf will also come onto the market next year (Touran, Caddy and Passat are already available with natural gas drive), and the CNG version of the technically closely related Audi A3 has already been announced.

In the case of the more expensive cars, the natural gas variant may be easier to sell, as the surcharge remains about the same, but is not as significant in relation to the total price of the car as with the Up.

In addition, Head of Development Hackenberg emphasizes that the new MQB basic architecture, on which up to 40 of the Group’s models will ultimately be based, can easily accommodate any type of drive, from diesel to natural gas and hybrid to electric motors and batteries.

Biogas brings CO2 to zero

This is a big advantage over brands that build their own vehicles for a special drive, says Hackenberg. "When the market goes down, the factory looks empty, that won’t happen to us."

That is reassuring for VW, because the natural gas car market has not really taken off yet. Although you can even tap biogas (at 100 filling stations) and thus bring CO2 emissions – at least in the balance sheet – to zero.

1.4 million natural gas cars by 2020

VW cites a study by the German Biomass Institute in Leipzig, according to which 13 million tons of straw remain unused in Germany every year. This could produce enough biogas to run four million natural gas cars for a year.

There won’t be that many in the near future. The federal government’s fuel strategy assumes that around 1.4 million natural gas cars will be driving in 2020. The government is clearly too optimistic even with the desired one million electric cars by 2020.

It hisses and jerks – so what?

But unlike batteries, the stuff that powers a natural gas car is really cheap. A test drive on natural gas, regardless of the model, is always recommended. And a test refueling: It always hisses, and sometimes you have to jerk the nozzle a little, and it also takes a little longer than with gasoline.

But is that really bad when you only have to pay three or four euros for 100 kilometers?

“Welt” reporter Stefan Anker regularly tweeted spontaneous auto news and observations from everyday testing. He’ll be happy if you follow this link click and follow him.

The trip to the presentation of the Eco-Up was supported by Volkswagen. You can find our standards of transparency and journalistic independence at

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