Audi Urban Concept launch, 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show
Audi Urban Concept launch, 2011 Frankfurt Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
If one is a fluke and two is coincidence, then three makes a trend for sure.
Audi is close to approving plans to build a limited number of the all-electric two-seat Urban Concept vehicle that it launched at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show, according to CAR magazine in England,
If built for sale, most likely only in Europe, the production Audi Urban Concept would join the Volkswagen XL1 and the Renault Twizy in the category of "not-quite-cars," or low-speed electric vehicles.
The battery-electric vehicle was displayed at Frankfurt in two versions, a closed coupe with a one-piece roof-greenhouse-and-doors hatch that opened on struts to admit people, and an Urban Spyder Concept version with an open-air body.
CAR magazine drove a prototype Urban Concept, and concluded its remarkably favorable review by saying, "Young, simple, alternative, affordable and fun to drive, the Urban Concept sends a promising message from a brand which has taken itself too serious [sic] for far too long."
Volkswagen XL1 ConceptEnlarge Photo
In some European countries, those vehicles can be driven by 16-year-olds, whereas they must wait until age 18 to pilot regular cars.
Volkswagen said earlier this year it would build small numbers of the XL1, an ultra-efficient two-seater using a small plug-in hybrid powertrain to obtain gas mileage of well over 200 miles per gallon.
And the Renault Twizy is already entering production in France, in two different versions: a lower-power model that can be registered as a low-speed electric vehicle, and a more powerful version that qualifies as a regular, highway-capable car.
Renault Twizy Z.E. electric vehicleEnlarge Photo
We continue to think we won't see any of these vehicles sold in the U.S., whose drivers cover more miles daily, in more suburban travel patterns, sharing the road with 3-ton SUVs that are still largely absent from Europe and Asia.
But the idea of these not-quite-cars being offered by real carmakers, including some of the largest names in the global industry, remains intriguing.
What do you think of these tiny two-seat vehicles?
Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.