Published on October 4th, 2013 | by Silvio Marcacci


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

October 4th, 2013 by  

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

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

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

  • bob

    Ya f u c k you.

    Of course they are not going to give us the tech for mass use. They would rather we all die of Fukushima, 3 mile island and Chernobyl type global radiation contamination than let us have the ability to really go far on a little fossil fuel.

  • Wayne Williamson

    Can’t understand the price for this. Granted, carbon fiber is nice, but from what I’ve seen it requires hand on manufacturing. Probably where most of the cost comes from. ie building them one at a time, no two are the same….

    • GodoStoyke

      The high price is likely due to the fact that VW is making a very limited number. Because, let’s face it: does the world really need an inexpensive car with extremely high fuel efficiency (Oh, wait, yes it does!!)

  • Ivor O’Connor

    This is still a concept car. Notice how the stupidly mandated side mirrors are missing from this car. Tack them on and lets see what the coefficient of drag really is. It could easily be worse than the Tesla’s given that Tesla currently has the best Cd on the market and they state they would see a 5% improvement if they could remove the side mirrors.

    Still it is nice to see VW is attempting to compete.

    • Klevis Ymeri

      The Tesla S is just 4 wheels with a battery and an electric motor. There is nothing more technologically complex than this car. The side mirrors are missing because they have used cameras to lower the drag and I think that in Europe the law is more flexible regarding these things than in US.

      • Bob_Wallace

        The electronics between motor and battery are a lot more complex than a piece of wire.

      • Ivor O’Connor

        The Tesla S has the best drag coefficient of any car on the road that has side mirrors. When this VW really gets to America it will have to be fitted with side mirrors and then we’ll get to compare its drag coefficient to the Tesla’s.

        The Tesla has an amazing suspension that changes height and firmness based on conditions. Not to mention a frame built to be incredibly safe. Lots of luggage room. Noise insulation to keep the inside quiet at virtually any speed. Acceleration 3x greater than the VW and a top end speed a bit over 30mph faster. Did I mention it was extremely fun to drive?

        Now the VW costs 30 to 70 thousand more than the Tesla. Is a technological wonder. And you may be able to drive cross country with it if you bring a spare 5 gallon tank with you.

        They each have their strengths. I’d like to see it when it is made street legal here.

      • Marion Meads

        This VW car has inferior technology and has inferior performance than the Chevy Volt, and is more than 4 times the price.

      • George

        I’d settle for 180 mpg with side mirrors, but with this car’s accel rate I’d get tired of blue haired old ladies honking for me to get out of the way.

      • Uncle Siam

        Your statement shows that you know nothing about the Tesla. I have a Nissan LEAF and even it is more than just battery, electric motor and 4 wheels.

    • Mantorok

      It has rear view cameras instead of side mirrors. they are the parts on the front of the door that look kind of like door handles. (noting the handles are actually on the rear of the door frame)
      you can see the monitors on inside of the doors on the picture of the interior.

      • Ivor O’Connor

        All well and good. The way things should be. I hope they can change the laws here in America and finally finish the job Tesla has been trying to accomplish. Maybe if enough auto makers demand our government will finally listen.

  • J_JamesM

    Um, I actually would say that 0-62 mph in over 12 seconds IS sacrificing speed, especially in something so lightweight.

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