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This New Volkswagen gets >250 MPG
Adam Kenvarg
April 2, 2013 - 6:35pm


In the world of supercars with 800 horsepower engines, massive spoilers, and flamboyant styling, VW just introduced a new type of supercar: one designed to use less than a liter of diesel to go 100 kilometers (that’s over 235 miles per gallon for those of us in the United States, or 282 MPG for those measuring in imperial gallons).1  Sure, it won’t go 200 miles per hour, but this new car is one of the most exciting unveiled at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show.
VW’s design is a good example for many of the sustainable design concepts that we discuss on this website. Click on the links in the paragraphs below to dive deeper into those concepts.

Source: Wikipedia

Named the XL1, the car is the brainchild of former VW boss Dr. Ferdinand Piëtch.  It began a decade ago with his idea for a production car that could achieve a fuel consumption rate of just 1L/100km (hence the original prototype name: L1).  It originally started as a tandem two-seater with a one-cylinder engine, but eventually evolved into its current form as a side-by-side two-seater plugin hybrid with a two-cylinder diesel engine and a small, 27 horsepower electric motor [very similar to the Urbee concept in our Project Gallery].  The real genius of the car, and the reason it can run on such a small engine, is its combination of stupendously low weight, low coefficient of drag, and low rolling resistance.

Courtesy: VW

To achieve the required weight and drag the XL1 utilizes a unique mixture of design and high-tech materials.  The car is made from special carbon-fiber composites, magnesium and aluminum alloys, and has ceramic brakes, all designed to keep the weight as low as possible.  With these high-tech materials, the XL1 manages an astonishing curb weight of less than one ton.  Perhaps more importantly, the car manages to have an amazingly low coefficient of drag.  It is the lowest ever for a production car at 0.189, far below the Prius’ coefficient of drag of around 0.25 for the latest model.  To achieve this singular level of slipperiness, the XL1 utilizes new innovations, such as using rear facing cameras instead of wing mirrors, and a slight offset between seats that allows the car to have a narrower profile without impacting passenger comfort.  These efforts were also important in reducing the frontal area of the car, which is similarly important for reducing the force of drag and improving fuel economy.

Courtesy: VW

While this car is certainly one to excite anybody interested in sustainability, don’t expect to be able to get your hands on one anytime soon.  VW says that their first production run will be of 250 vehicles, without any making it over to the US market.  In addition, while they haven’t yet announced the cost, it is rumored to be around $100,000 for this first generation model.  However, it is important to keep in mind that what VW learns from this car will undoubtedly make it into the rest of their cars in the next few years, allowing you to drive a Golf that someday soon may get truly outstanding fuel economy.

1In fact, in European testing the XL1 manages to go 100 kilometers on just 0.9 liters of fuel for a fuel economy of 261 MPG-US



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