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VW Unveils What Could Be The World’s Most Fuel Efficient Production Car

Back in 2011, Volkswagen  showed the world a concept car that was designed to be the world’s most fuel-efficient vehicle. Now, just a few days before the Geneva Motor Show, the company has given us all a sneak peek of what’s actually going to be made: the limited edition Volkswagen XL.1.

The Volkswagen XL.1 is yet another example of just how sexy fuel efficiency is these days, with this unit aiming to be the most efficient in the world. And it probably is. It would be hard to improve on fuel efficiency figures of 0.9 litres per 100 km for the combined fuel efficiency figures (I’m pretty sure that those figures are correct; however, I’ve seen at least three figures in mpg, depending on which source you read, ranging from 314 mpg top 261 mpg, with 261 being the most common one quoted). Motoring writers around the globe are getting excited about this “futuristic” car that combines sexy fuel efficiency with equally sexy good looks.

So how did Volkswagen manage to make such a fuel-efficient car? As you would expect, it’s not just one feature that makes is so economical but a whole heap of things.

Number one is the shape: the Volkswagen XL.1 has been made to have a very low drag coefficient, which means that it slips through the air easily and smoothly with a minimum of friction. The shape seems to have been inspired by nature, with the side-on profile of the Volkswagen XL.1 looking a bit like a bottlenose dolphin (now, you can’t get more eco-friendly than a dolphin, can you?). Because there’s less friction to overcome, this means that there’s less energy needed to speed up and keep moving.

Number two is what it’s made out of. Simple physics and your own experience lets you known that the heavier something is, the more effort (and hence more fuel) is needed to get it moving. This is why the Volkswagen XL.1 is made out of light-but-tough carbon fibre-reinforced plastics. The makers say that this car is only 23% steel, with the rest being made from all sorts of things, including wood supports in the dashboard. The Volkswagen XL.1 has thinner windscreen glass and a load (or perhaps not a load) of other ways to save weight here and there. The end result is a car that weighs about 800 kg.

Number three is, of course, the engine. I guess nobody’s going to be really surprised that the Volkswagen XL.1 is a hybrid vehicle, as this seems to be the way things are going these days. When it’s not using the battery (20 kW power and 140 Nm torque), the vehicle runs on a little (800 cc = 0.8 litre) turbocharged diesel unit that pops out 35 kW of power and 120 Nm of torque. In the performance stakes, it does nought to the ton in 12.7 seconds and a top speed of 160 kmh (limited). It’s not a racing car, but if the new emphasis on fuel efficiency rather than raw power continues, this won’t really be seen as a downside. This is the same engine that you’ll find in the new Volkswagen Up.

The Volkswagen XL.1 is entering production, being made in the same German factories as the Volkswagen Golf  and the Porsche Boxter. Alas, only a limited number will be made and we are unlikely to get any here Down Under any time soon. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that production will eventually become more widespread.


  1. John Aquilina says:

    If we can keep a car’s weight down to around 1000kgs, carry 5 passengers without having to shoehorn them into the back seat, carry a decent load of luggage and return 5 – 7 litres p/100km and cost under 50k I’m sure it would be a commercial success.

    People forget that if a car is used primarily as a family car moving 4 or 5 people around most of the time, then a Holden Caprice is more economical than the VW UP that is carting around a childless inner city couple for all its life.

    Come to think of it, the Airbus A380 is more economical than a VW UP when you take into account how many people it moves at speed to its destination.

    The great shame of the whole ëconomy debate is that little importance is given to the fuel used to power vehicles. If Australians were allowed to purchase CNG & LPG for their true retail cost and not the tax -laden cost we bear now, a much better environmental outcome, whilst bolstering our energy independence would result. (if something happens to those shipping corridoors between Australia and its oil sources – Australia needs to implement strict rationing within 3 days!).

    With the wider use of CNG & LPG then the distribution issue would cease – get only 20% of the vehicles on Gas and there will be bowsers everywhere.

    Why should we have “Parity Pricing Policy”? What is wrong with allowing EVERYONE in Australia to enjoy the natural energy advantage we have over other countries with our reserves of CNG & LPG?

    March 26th, 2013 at 8:45 pm