Volkswagen poked its hypothetical finger into the metaphorical electric car pie today, with a vehicle named after a casual northern English salutation. Gather round, our environmentally conscious kids, for the E-Up!

Stylistically, Volkswagen is is referring to the E-Up! -- that's VW's exclamation mark, not ours, and we won't be using it again -- as the Beetle of the 21st century. We don't really see any resemblance, but it's a cute little car, whose endearing, cheeky smile makes it slightly easier on the retina than many of its rivals.

Like most electric cars, the E-Up is designed for city use, but unlike most vehicles of its ilk, it promises to be fun to drive. Its electric motor can reach a peak output of 60kW, which is enough power to take it all the way up to 83mph. It should be pretty responsive around town, too, zipping between 18.5mph and 31mph in around 3.5 seconds. 0-62mph happens in a VW Polo-baiting 11.3 seconds.

The E-Up is equipped with a lightweight, air-cooled 18kWh lithium-ion battery, which Volkswagen reckons will provide a range of up to 80 miles, depending on driving style. Recharging time is quoted at 5 hours from a standard 230V household outlet, though this could drop to just a few minutes if and when high-output charging stations become commonplace.

Electric cars aren't usually a haven for cabin tech, but the E-Up is relatively well-equipped. Firstly, it has a sound generator, which -- like the Smart Brabus ED -- mimics the noise of an internal combustion engine. It also gets a TFT display and an iPod dock, as well as solar panels on the roof and both sun visors designed to continuously supply energy to the car's electrical systems.

The E-Up is still in the concept phase of development, but VW says it's eager to explore alternatives to its petrol-powered range, so we could see this on our streets within a couple of years.

Don't forget to check out the photo gallery for more pictures and information.

Say cheese! We reckon the E-Up would fit in pretty well around town with its cheeky grin.
The car is only just over 3m long, but offers enough room up front for two fully grown adults.
The back, meanwhile, has space for two additional passengers -- one adult and one child.
Solar cells on the roof continuously top up the vehicle's electrical systems.
There are even solar cells on the sun visors.
The TFT display is angled towards the driver, but it's a tad too glossy and reflective for our tastes.
The instrument binnacle sports an LCD display with funky animated graphics.
The gear selector is reminiscent of the Jaguardrive gear selector on the Jaguar XF and XK. You simply twist to select the gear you want.
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