Volkswagen Hybrid Formula XL1 Achieves 260 mpg!

January 26th, 2011

Volkswagen XL1 concept

At almost the same moment the ridiculous Pagani HowAreYa (excuse me, it’s “Huayra”) was revealed in photos, Volkswagen thumbed its nose at 700-hp cars by showing off its amazing, 260-mpg Formula XL1 concept car.

In the works for some time, the XL1 may finally attain the vision of Dr. Ferdinand Piëch, who, ten years ago, set the goal of creating a marketable car with a fuel consumption of 1 liter per 100 kilometers (about 235 mpg).

After several previous versions, the prototype shown at the Qatar Motor Show will “go into series production” in 2013, according to Piëch, now VW chairman. It’s too soon, he said, to talk about quantities or price, but you can bet this carbon-fiber two-seater won’t come cheap. It is nonetheless a breakthrough that no present hybrid can match.

Volkswagen XL1 interiorVW claims to have “achieved significant reductions in production costs” in manufacturing carbon-fiber body parts, heretofore a high-cost element. See the press release at the foot of this story.

Volkswagen XL1 explodedA two-cylinder TDI engine (47 hp) couples with an electric motor (26 hp) and a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission to get to 62 mph in 11.9 seconds (top speed is 99 mph). The power unit is behind the seats—of which there are two, side-by-side and accessed by gullwing doors.

The car weighs only 1,753 pounds and is 7 inches shorter than a Honda CR-Z. It recharges from household current and will run 36km (~22.5 miles) on electric power only.

Yes, it does look like GM’s EV-1, but you don’t get a 0.186 drag coefficient by being designer-different. Anyhow, we think it’s beautiful.

This is not a car for the masses. The point is to build a relatively small number, test them out with consumers, and see where the technology leads. The XL1 is the epitome of plug-in hybrid tech, at least so far.

Does Volkswagen get your vote of approval for its achievement of 260 mpg with the XL1?

—jgoods

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