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First Drive: 261 MPG Volkswagen XL1

Pushing the limits of fuel-efficiency with VW's exotic two-seater.

by on Jul.18, 2013

At a rated 261 mpg, the VW XL1 could go from NYC to Boston on a gallon - not a tank - of fuel.

It takes a bit of effort to slip in under the gullwing doors and then wedge oneself into the low-slung seat of the Volkswagen XL1. And it’s even more difficult for my co-pilot as the passenger seat is set slightly rearward, almost tandem-style.

The simple reality is that the windswept two-seater isn’t built for comfort. The Volkswagen XL1 was designed for maximum mileage. And we’re not talking something like the mere 50 to 60 miles per gallon of today’s best hybrids, nor the 100 mpg “equivalent” ratings of some of the latest battery-electric vehicles. No, this diesel plug-in hybrid recently received a mind-boggling rating from European authorities of 261 miles per gallon, far and away an all-time record.

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Describing the XL1 as “my baby,” program manager Steven Volckaert notes the project has been underway for more than a decade, with the original goal of squeezing out 100 kilometers from a single liter of fuel. For the metrically challenged, that works out to about 235 mpg.


VW Launching 261 mpg XL1 Hybrid

2-Seater billed as world’s most fuel-efficient production car.

by on Feb.21, 2013

VW claims the XL1 will be the world's most fuel-efficient car when it goes into production.

Volkswagen plans to launch what it is billing as the world’s most fuel-efficient production car, the plug-in XL1 expected to yield a combined fuel economy rating of 261 miles per gallon.

The gas-electric 2-seater also will get an estimated 32 miles per charge in all-electric mode, according to VW. It will nonetheless be able to hit a top speed of 99 mph.

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The XL1 is the latest design to emerge from an ongoing project designed to see just how far VW can stretch a gallon of gas. The original goal was to use just one liter of fuel to travel 100 kilometers. That would have worked out to 235 mpg in American terms. The XL1 beats that by more than 10 percent.


First Look: Audi Urban Concept

Electric drive and 1+1 seating.

by on Aug.10, 2011

Audi's ultra-light Urban Concept will premier at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Taking its etron concept in a new direction, Audi will unveil the new Urban Concept battery car at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show.  The latest in a series of innovative offerings designed to test the limits of high-mileage design, perhaps the most distinctive feature of the carbon fiber prototype is its use of a 1+1 seating arrangement.

Designed for congested urban roads, Audi says the Urban Concept “combines elements of a racing car, a fun car and an urban car into one radical new concept.”

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The prototype is assembled out of ultra-light carbon fiber-reinforced plastic, or CFRP, panels; light and strong, many experts believe the material will eventually replace steel if the industry can only figure out how to mass produce it and drive down costs.

The design utilizes offset seating with access through an aircraft-like sliding canopy and tailgate.


VW Tops 250 MPG With XL1 Concept

Who cares about fuel prices.

by on Jan.27, 2011

Using lightweight materials, slick aerodynamics and a diesel-hybrid, VW's XL1 achieves 250 mpg.

You could dole fuel out with an eyedropper and ignore the latest pump prices were the Volkswagen XL1 sitting in your driveway.  The newest VW concept vehicle claims a fuel economy of a seemingly impossible 250 miles per gallon.

Unveiled at this week’s Qatar Motor Show, the prototype uses a variety of techniques to reduce weight and minimize wind resistance, while turning to a plug-in diesel-hybrid powertrain to squeeze out every last bit of energy.

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Among the various steps taken to improve aerodynamics are a closed front end, extensive underbody covers, closed wheels and pin-sized cameras that replace conventional sideview mirrors.  The VW XL1 yields a drag coefficient of just 0.19, compared to 0.25 for the relatively slick Toyota Prius.

There’s less than 400 pounds of steel or iron on the XL1.  The chassis is a monocoque made of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic, or CFRP, a material normally found on extremely low-volume supercars, such as the Lamborghini Sesto.  That and other lightweight materials, such as aluminum and magnesium, and the ceramics of the prototypes brakes, and VW has been able to hold the mass of the XL1 down to just 1,749 pounds.


First Look: Volkswagen L1 Ultra-Mileage Concept

From here to eternity on a gallon of gas?

by on Sep.15, 2009

The hyper-efficient Volkswagen L1 can go about 100 miles on a liter of gas - more than 200 miles per gallon.

The hyper-efficient Volkswagen L1 gets 100 miles on a liter of gas - more than 200 miles per gallon.

Imagine driving from New York to Los Angeles on a tank of gas.

Volkswagen’s bullet-like L1 concept vehicle could come close to pulling that off.  What a senior VW official calls, “a technology driver,” has accomplished the seemingly impossible: going 100 kilometers (62.5 miles) on a single liter of petrol.  If you’d prefer to avoid the math, that works out to more than 236 miles per gallon.

The goal of the L1 was to serve as “a spearhead of technical innovation,” according to Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, the German maker’s technology director, testing out “visionary concepts” that might one day find a role in more conventional vehicles.

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“The question we asked ourselves,” said Hackenberg, “is whether we would be able to design a 1-liter car (a vehicle using just 1 liter of fuel to go 100 km) that is also affordable.”