VW talks up single-seat electric car, teeny four-seater

The German automaker, long the champion of small vehicles like the Beetle, hopes to shake up the market with small electric model, high-efficiency four-seater.

The maker of the iconic Beetle believes it has a sure-fire way to make an electric vehicle more efficient: ditch the passenger.

SmartPlanet international correspondent Mark Halper reports that Volkswagen has been talking up a single-seat electric vehicle that could hit the street in Europe in two weeks.

Actually, it won't exactly hit the road, but it will get a preview at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor show where I am sure many conceptual and practical electric vehicles will be available for gawking.

The idea is that lighter the vehicle, the longer the range that it will be able to travel on a charge. There really aren't any details available, other than this funky picture (right), which is of a concept car that VW began showing a couple of years ago called the L1.

This particular model may be a little out there for you and me, unless you happen to drive by yourself a lot, but VW also plans to introduce another car -- not yet electric -- that might be a bit more the speed of the average driver.

That car, called the up! (left), will be one of the smallest four-passenger vehicles to hit the market. It measures 11.6-feet long by 5.4-feet wide by 4.9 feet tall.

Alas, the first market to get the new car will be Europe later this year, and there is no word on when it will drive over to the United States. An electric edition of the car is scheduled to debut in 2013.