VW unveils 313mpg XL1 Super Efficient VehicleVolkswagen concept debuts at Qatar Motor Show

28 January 2011

Volkswagen XL1 concept car front three quarter

The Volkswagen XL1 concept car was revealed in Qatar

Volkswagen has revealed a new concept called the XL1 at the Qatar Motor Show, a diesel-electric hybrid that claims an incredible 313mpg.

The VW XL1 is a Super Efficient Vehicle (SEV), and paves the way for an ultra economical motoring future with pioneering lightweight materials production techniques and hybrid power.

Find out more about hybrid technology

Volkswagen XL1: super efficient diesel-electric hybrid

The XL1’s 313mpg fuel economy figure is based on a combined testing cycle, and accompanied by CO2 emissions of just 24g/km. A remarkable feat.

Volkswagen XL1 concept car rear three quarter

The VW XL1 will return a claimed 313mpg

It’s been achieved through a combination of aerodynamic slipperiness, drivetrain efficiency and low weight. The vehicle’s footprint is similar to that of Volkswagen’s current Polo supermini, but it is no taller than a Lamborghini Gallardo.

But, the XL1 certainly won’t perform like an Italian supercar. The combination of a 47bhp two-cylinder, 800cc TDI turbodiesel and a 27bhp electric motor provide a grand total of just 74bhp. However, the entire car weighs just 795kg, so it still manages 0-62mph in 11.9 seconds. Top speed is artificially limited to 99mph.

Information on how diesel hybrid cars work

Carbon fibre breakthrough

Volkswagen XL1 concept car side view

The VW XL1 features a revolutionary new body structure

Volkswagen has provided a full breakdown of component weights within the XL1, but the most significant is the body structure.

This tips the scales at just 230kg, thanks to the extensive use of Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer (CPRP), which is very light and strong. It’s also traditionally a very expensive material, but VW has developed (and patented) a new production process call Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM).

This is significant because RTM makes the mass production of a future Super Efficient Vehicle far more feasible.

Until now, Volkswagen had said such a car could not be made affordable enough to go on sale.

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Volkswagen XL1 interior

Volkswagen says the XL1 remains a concept car only, for now

When can we buy one?

Volkswagen’s official line is that the XL1 remains a concept only.

However, with improvements to the ergonomics – side-by-side seating for two rather than passenger behind driver, gullwing doors – and looks that would slot right into the current VW range, it has confirmed the XL1 represents a ‘step towards the birth of a new class of Super Efficient Vehicle’.

Whispers from within the car industry suggest Volkswagen is in fact contemplating a limited production run.

After all, the XL1 is Volkswagen’s third concept exploring highly efficient personal transport in this manner, following on from the 1-Litre car of 2002 and the L1 of 2009. You’ll note the time between concepts has gotten far closer as the technology and cost catches up with the idea.

The fuel economy has also improved in spite of the increase in weight that has come as VW clearly progresses to making it more affordable (and safer): the 380kg L1 claiming 189mpg and the 290kg 1-Litre 285mpg.

Suddenly it’s not so hard to imagine seeing such cars on the road well before the end of the decade. Watch this space for more.

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