Volkswagen's upcoming up! minicar project is destined to go electric but the first examples won’t be around until 2013. Currently, the up! is being developed with conventional petrol and diesel options and will be sold under various guises through the VW, Seat and Skoda brands by 2011.

The reported 2013 launch date for the electric up! means the car will arrive to market a little slower than some of its competitors, such as the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, which is slated for a 2011 release. This disadvantage will have to be made up by VW with either better pricing or a superior product, reports AutoTelegraaf.

VW has already previewed its electric minicar in the form of 2007’s up! blue plug-in hybrid concept vehicle. The advanced concept featured a hydrogen fuel cell mated to an electric motor and lithium-ion battery array. Driving on electric power alone, the 60hp (45kW) electric motor could carry the vehicle over a distance of 65 miles, more than enough for most inner city trips. The production version is likely to feature an electric motor as its sole power source.

Before the arrival of the electric up!, however, VW will launch several other versions including a petrol-electric hybrid, MPV model and possibly even a sporty cabrio. In total, VW is hoping to sell close to 500,000 units of the up! annually. Whether or not the car will be coming Stateside is another matter, and VW is still pondering the advantages of such a move.