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Volkswagen XL1, World’s Most Efficient Car, Makes Its US Debut (CT Exclusive)

The Volkswagen XL1, combining efficient diesel and electric-only technology into a 200-mpg range package, made its U.S. debut yesterday in Tennessee.

Volkswagen has just set the bar higher for sustainable transportation standards in America with the most fuel-efficient car in the world.

The Volkswagen XL1 made its American debut yesterday at the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) conference in Chattanooga, Tennessee, combining fuel efficiency and aerodynamic design to crack the 200-mile per gallon (mpg) mark.

XL1 touts itself as “the world’s most efficient car” with an estimated European combined fuel consumption rating of 261 mpg (more than 200 mpg estimated in the U.S. cycle) and up to 32 miles range as a zero-emissions vehicle in all-electric mode.

Volkswagen XL1

Photo via Silvio Marcacci / CleanTechnica

Volkswagen’s Futuristic Design = Massive Efficiency

The first thing you’ll notice about the XL1 is futuristic design. With Delorean-style gull wings and covered rear wheels, it doesn’t look like many other cars on the road today, but that futuristic design hints at the car’s innovative efficiency measures.

“The XL1 offers a glimpse into Volkswagen’s present and future eco-mobility capabilities,” said Oliver Schmidt, general manager of VW’s Engineering and Environmental Office.

Volkswagen XL1 gull wings

Photo via Silvio Marcacci / CleanTechnica

Weighing just 1,753 pounds from carbon fiber construction with a low center of gravity and a coefficient of drag (Cd) of 0.19, XL1 requires less than 0.1-kilowatt hours (kWh) of power and only emits 21 grams of CO2 to drive one kilometer.

But while efficient, the XL1 doesn’t sacrifice power or speed. The car has a top speed of 99 miles per hour (mph) and goes from 0 to 62 mph in 12.7 seconds. A truly hybrid combination of a two-cylinder diesel engine, 27-horsepower motor, and lithium-ion battery provide plug-in reliability.

Time To Say Auf Wiedersehen Already?

Unfortunately, even though the XL1 may be the world’s most efficient car, and was finally unveiled for U.S. audiences, we may not be seeing many of them on American roads any time soon.

Volkswagen has officially announced it will only build 250 XL1 cars for sale by Spring 2014, reportedly for $143,000, but likely only for European distribution and perhaps just for lease. So ultimately, the XL1’s biggest impact might not be on decarbonizing the world’s auto fleets, but by proving just how far fuel efficiency and hybrid motors can travel.

Volkswagen XL1 interior

Photo via Silvio Marcacci / CleanTechnica


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Written By

Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate policy public relations company based in Oakland, CA.


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