For more than a decade, Volkswagen has been working on a “1-liter car,” a car that can go 100 kilometers on 1 liter of fuel. The car, called the XL1, is in development and will hit showrooms next year.
The 1-liter car
Engineers at Volkswagen, according to Popular Mechanics, have been working for more than a decade on a car that will go 100 kilometers (62 miles) on 1 liter of fuel, just less than 235 miles per gallon.
The first prototype came in 2002, using a tiny 299 cubic-centimeter, 8.4 horsepower, 1 cylinder diesel engine that got up to 264.3 mpg. It also took 32 seconds to get to 50 miles per hour, which it could barely manage, making the car impractical. The two seats were also tandem; the passenger sat behind the driver.
The second prototype, the L1, came in 2009. Also a tandem two-seater, the L1 used a hybrid drive train along with a two-cylinder 39 horsepower turbodiesel, according to Car and Driver. According to Popular Mechanics, it wasn’t as fuel efficient, achieving 157 mpg, but could hit 100 mph.
Third generation in testing
The third generation, the XL1, debuted in 2011 at the Qatar Auto Show as a concept, but test mules of an XL1 production model have been spotted.
The new XL1 is an incredibly sleek two-seater with a shape reminiscent of the Audi R8, though smaller. It is also super-light; the carbon-fiber body, according to PM, weighs just more than 500 pounds, with a total weight of about 1,795 pounds. It retains the scissor doors of the concept car and has conventional side-by-side seats.
The XL1 is a plug-in hybrid, using a 0.8-liter two-cylinder diesel producing 47 horsepower, along with a 27-horsepower electric motor, both mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The electric-only range is about 22 miles, according to AutoCar, and the battery charges in about an hour using a 240-volt socket.
Testing at the Qatar Auto Show gave the XL1 mileage of 313 mpg, but recent prototypes achieve 261 mpg using European testing standards, according to Car and Driver.
Few will be made
The car also comes with a touch-screen center console and lacks any mirrors; it uses cameras for seeing other cars, with footage displayed in the center console. The top speed is limited to 99 mph and takes 12 seconds to get to 62 mph.
Volkswagen has confirmed XL1 for production and will be available in 2013. However, there aren’t going to be many of them. There is, according to Car and Driver, a limited-production run of “50-plus” currently under way and a second production run between 500 and 1,000 units is also said to be in the works.
Furthermore, Volkswagen says that the price is going to reflect the costs of development, as well as the materials and work that went into the design.