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300mpg Diesel-Electric Hybrid Unveiled by Volkswagen

The star of this week’s Qatar motor show will undoubtedly be Volkswagen’s “one-liter car,” the diesel hybrid XL1, which is able to achieve more than 300 mpg.

The $60,000 XL1 is powered by an 800cc, two-cylinder turbodiesel powerplant (half a BlueMotion engine), producing 47bhp, supported by a 27bhp electric motor hat fuelled by lithium-ion batteries. The batteries can be charged from a domestic plug, allowing the car to travel 22 miles solely on electric power.

Over the past decade governments worldwide have been pressing the automotive industry for better gas mileage, better fuel economy in vehicles, and other sources of energy. The XL1 fulfills all these requirements.

Related Article: New York Manholes for Electric Car Charging

The XL1 also emits just 24g/km of CO2 and has a 0-60 time of 11.9 seconds. Its 10-liter diesel tank gives the XL1 a range of around 340 miles. Adding to the XL1’s remarkable fuel efficiency is the fact that the car has been designed to be as light as possible, with an unpainted carbon fiber skin over a magnesium-alloy subframe.

Efforts to pare weight extend to the engine, transmission, suspension, carbon fiber wheels, aluminum brakes, titanium hubs and ceramic bearings, producing a vehicle weighing only 1,752 pounds.

The XL1 is the brainchild of Volkswagen group former head Ferdinand Piëch, who initiated the project in 1998. Volkswagen’s designers and engineers responded to Piëch’s challenge, immediately setting about producing a carbon-fiber bodied car with tandem seating and a single-piston engine. In 2002, in his last public appearance as chairman, Piëch drove to a VW shareholders meeting in Hamburg in the prototype, and even then managed to beat the fuel-consumption target that he had set his engineers. Following Piëch’s leaving Volkswagen, the project was essentially shelved until Piëch’s replacement, Martin Winterkorn, along with Volkswagen’s research and development head Ulrich Hackenberg, revisited the concept and developed the twin-cylinder hybrid L1, which appeared at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2009.

 Volkswagen engineer Andreas Keller, who’s been with the project since its inception, said, “In many respects, this car is similar to the Bugatti Veyron. I mean that it’s the absolute pinnacle of engineering that we as a company are capable of right now. It’s an extreme car, it’s just that it’s the opposite of the Veyron. But the technology and the design are equally important. There had to be some creature comforts, but we’ve done everything possible to keep the weight down. The air conditioning, for instance, is powered by a smaller unit than is usual, so it might get a bit hot in there during the UAE’s summer. Also, the gearbox, which is a twin-clutch automatic, has been rehoused in a magnesium casing because it’s incredibly light — the entire car only weighs 1,752 pounds. The tires are narrow to keep down the rolling resistance and the rears are covered by wheel spats that aid streamlining. You will also notice there are no exterior mirrors. There are two rear-facing cameras fitted into either side of the car, and the real-time images are fed to screens in the doors.” The XL1 is being built at Volkswagen’s Osnabrück facility

Related Article: 2014 Detroit Auto Show: Proof that EVs can be Fun

The bad news for XL1 enthusiasts is that currently only 250 are to be constructed, with production ceasing next year. Interestingly in October 2013 the XL1 made its U.S. debut in Chattanooga at the 23rd Annual Society of Environmental Journalists Conference. Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. Engineering and Environmental Office General Manager Oliver Schmidt said at the unveiling of the prototype, “The XL1 offers a glimpse into Volkswagen’s present and future eco-mobility capabilities, and highlights the ultimate successes of ‘Thinking Blue.’ Volkswagen is proud to debut this ultra-fuel-efficient vehicle before the Society of Environmental Journalists, a group that shares in our commitment to environmental stewardship.”

As Volkswagen of America, Inc. in 2011 opened a $1 billion Volkswagen Chattanooga factory that manufactures the Passat sedan for the North American market, which provides more than 12,000 full-time jobs and is responsible for $643 million in annual income in the area, as well as $53.5 million annually in state and local taxes, the question might be – why not manufacture XL1s in the U.S.?

By John Daly of Oilprice.com




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  • Nys Parkie on April 17 2014 said:
    I don't understand:

    300mpg Diesel-Electric Hybrid Unveiled by Volkswagen.

    The XL1 also emits just 24g/km of CO2 and has a 0-60 time of 11.9 seconds. Its "10-liter diesel tank gives the XL1 a range of around 340 miles."

    How can a 10 liter gas tank give 340 mile range yet they state in the Headlines 300mpg? 10 liters is approximately 2 1/2 gallons. Divide 340 by 2.5 and it is nowhere near 300mpg.!!
    What am I missing. Even if I add the 22 miles pure electric on it.
    Is something missing from the article?
  • George T Horvat on April 17 2014 said:
    Whoopee! A whole 47 horsepower. Well I can do better than that with a real horse and probably get to where I want to go a lot faster. This is a stupid idea. Underpowered automobiles are a serious danger on our highways. They get in the way and they can't pass anyone. This makes them "controllers" with long lines of vehicles piling up behind them; forcing other drivers to take unnecessary and dangerous chances trying to get around these rolling traffic jammers.
  • Fat Hubie on April 17 2014 said:
    No one seems to realize that these death traps will cost as much as a Veyron...
  • Kevin on April 18 2014 said:
    @George,

    Semis with empty trailers have a 0-60 time averaging about 20 seconds, and fully loaded of about 35 seconds. Considering their size, and how much they "force other drivers to take unnecessary and dangerous chances trying to get around these rolling traffic jammers." you might be surprised to know that accident rates for semis are significantly lower than cars.

    Also, this car has a top speed of 100mph (electronically limited, probably due to tire ratings). That's more than enough to safely cruise on the interstate, and again more than other slower vehicles on the interstate (semis climbing hills at 30mph for example).

    In other words, your arguments are invalid.
  • J.H on April 18 2014 said:
    Build more than 250
  • andrey on April 19 2014 said:
    The idea of the car is that diesel engine is constantly charging the electric one and when car moves it's powered by the electric engine only. when you charge with the diesel you use the most efficient regime the engine can provide, because all the accelerations, traffic lights, etc. are handled by electric transmission. So when you use diesel engine in the most efficient way you can burn 3L/100 miles, charge electric battery and move the car. 47hp is not that bad if you car is twice liter than the others.
  • Scott on April 20 2014 said:
    Semi top speed by the government is only 85 mph not 100 mph just saying
  • Landon Thomas on September 14 2014 said:
    With diesel's torque a 47 horsepower has the strength of a 70 HP gas engine. I remember hauling a heavily loaded 20 FT boat 100 miles to the Fl. keys with my 60 HP VW Bettle. I was doing 50 MPH the most way. I think a 47 HP turbo diesel could surprise you.
  • A on November 22 2014 said:
    @Nys
    I believe the quoted mpg is a weighted average based on short journeys using just battery power and longer journeys using battery and the diesel tank.
  • Rome on January 07 2015 said:
    Considering all the time and effort they put into this project, I think they have done something extraordinary.

    Unfortunately it would be impractical financially considering the initial cost of the vehicle.

    However if they consider working with the existing 1.3LTDi out of the Lupo/Polo they may come to market with something more economically feasible for the average consumer.

    .02
  • Wade Ripley on December 25 2015 said:
    Looks like not many have visited here in the last year or so but the time will come when this site is hotter than lightning!
    I look forward to seeing many other applications for freight movement over the road utilizing more torque and greater fuel economy per mile of weight moved through electric propultion.
    Fossil fuel may be doomed to extinction but the technology that exists can transform the industry and save our planet after all in the interim.
    I believe the future is here now just as it has been before in small pieces of the puzzle that fit a movement to solving more problems rather than making more profits for just a few. We can help each other to live together with out greed and corruption, and without trashing the world we live on. It is always smart to work together for the whole instead of coveting so much for just a few. In the long run spreading the wealth in this way increases our existence more than limiting an imediate result.

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