Volkswagen would like to introduce you to what it believes will be a car you are tripping over others to get at if your checkbook is big enough. Why? Because it very well likely is the most fuel-efficient production vehicle in the world (mythical vehicles like the Silex Power Cheros aside). Known as the XL1, it is an extreme fuel sipper at 0.9 l/100 km, or roughly 261 miles per gallon.
Picked your jaw up off the floor? Good. Now you are probably wondering how VW can pull off making a vehicle this efficient. According to them, it is the third iteration of a long standing 1-liter car strategy:
When the new millennium was ushered in, Prof. Dr. Ferdinand Piëch, who is today Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG, formulated the visionary goal of bringing to market a production car that was practical in everyday use with fuel consumption of one litre per 100 km. In the two-seat XL1, this vision has become reality. Despite the tremendous efficiency of the XL1, developers successfully came up with a body concept, which delivers more everyday utility than in the two previous prototypes. While the driver and passenger sat in a tandem arrangement for optimal aerodynamics in the L1, the 1-litre car presented in 2002 and in 2009, in the XL1 two occupants sit slightly offset, side by side, nearly as in a conventional vehicle.
Digging more specifically into what’s evolved from this process, one finds the XL1, cased in its lightweight carbon fiber frame, gets by with a low weight (795 kg – 1753 pounds), strict aerodynamics (Cd 0.189) and a low center of gravity (1,153 mm high – 3.7 feet). These touches allow this plug-in hybrid to achieve what VW says is a constant speed of 100 km/h (60 MPH) using only 6.2 kW / 8.4 PS. When one switches to electric mode only, the XL1 needs less than 0.1 kWh to go 1 km (0.6 mile) while being capable of a maximum non-gas range of 50 km (32 miles).
Technical specifications of the XL1 under the hood include a two-cylinder TDI engine (35 kW / 48 PS), electric motor (20 kW / 27 PS), 7-speed dual clutch gearbox (DSG) and lithium-ion battery. All of this is said to combine to keep the car emitting just 21 g/km of CO2. It isn’t much of a slouch though when needed be, being rated with a top speed of 160 km/h (100 MPH) acceleration to 100 km/h (60 MPH) in 12.7 seconds.
The XL1, which is being built by VW by “handcrafting-like production methods at its Osnabrück plant in Germany,” will be making an appearance at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.
As for when you actually might see in in showrooms, a limited run will probably debut later this year , likely in Europe only, with as yet no mentioned price point (though many believe it will be six figures).