Volkswagen Launches 261 mpg XL1 Plug-in Hybrid, World’s Most Efficient Production Car

By Paul Riegler on 21 February 2013
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Volkswagen XL1 plug-in hybrid

Volkswagen XL1 plug-in hybrid

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Volkswagen announced the launch of the XL1 plug-in hybrid, a vehicle Volkswagen says is the most fuel-efficient production car in the world.  The XL1 can cover 32 miles (52 kilometers) in all-electric mode as a zero-emissions vehicle.  Fuel economy is 261 mpg (0.91 l/100 km), thereby meeting a goal set by Volkswagen chairman Ferdinand Piëch at the start of the century of offering a vehicle that has a fuel consumption rating of one liter per 100 kilometers or 235 mpg.

The XL1 is powered by a 48-horsepower twin-cylinder TDI (diesel) engine and a 27-horsepower electric motor mated to a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission.  The vehicle’s top speed is 99 mph (160 km/h) and it can go from 0 to 62 mph (0 to 100 km/h) in 12.7 seconds.

The two-seater will be offered for lease in Germany and Austria although a specific timeframe hasn’t yet been announced.  A spokesman for Volkswagen’s U.S. arm told The Diesel Driver that there are no plans to bring the XL1 to the States.

Volkswagen says it used “pure sports-car design principles” in creating the XL1, namely a light weight (1753 pounds or 795 kilograms), a low drag coefficient (Cd 019), and a low center of gravity.

At 62 mph (100 km/h), the Volkswagen XL1 will use 8.3 hp to maintain its speed.  In all-electric mode, the vehicle needs less than 0.1 KwH to cover more than one kilometer (0.62 miles).

Volkswagen previously showed two prototypes, including the L1 that was shown in 2002 and 2009.  In the L1, the passengers sat in a tandem arrangement.  However, seating in the XL1 is almost like a conventional vehicle: the two occupants sit slightly offset from one another.

Despite the tremendous efficiency of the XL1, the engineers and designers successfully came up with a body design that delivers more everyday utility than the two previous prototypes. In the one-liter L1, the driver and passenger sat in a tandem arrangement for optimal aerodynamics; in the XL1, the two occupants sit slightly offset, side-by-side, almost like a conventional vehicle.

The XL1 is 153.1” long, 65.6” wide, and 45.4” tall, close to the current dimensions of the Volkswagen Polo in length and width.