The 2012 Volkswagen up! reportedly starts production sometime in late 2011, a year later than planned. The delay stems from a second-thoughts decision to remake the rear-engine/rear-drive concept into a front-engine/front-drive design. This change saves huge sums in development costs and tooling expenses--nearly $1.8 billion, according to Britain's CAR magazine--which is vital for a car aimed chiefly at emerging markets in Europe, South America, and India. Moving the powertrain from back to front also allows the Up to share more componentry and production facilities with larger VW cars, all of which are front-drive. No word yet on production locales, but Volkswagen can tap factories in several lower-wage countries to meet price points and a global sales target of a cool half-million units per year.
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