By on February 21, 2013

Afew years after its debut in concept form, Volkswagen is readying the ultra-efficient XL1 on a limited production basis. The XL1 could cost as much as 70,000 pounds (or $106,000), and return as much as 314 mpg (according to European test protocols).

The heart of the XL1 is an 800 cc 2-cylinder diesel engine making 47 horsepower, along with a 27 horsepower electric motor and a lithium-ion battery along with a 7-speed DSG transmission. Curb weight is a mere 1752 lbs thanks to extensive carbon fiber usage.

A drag coefficient of 0.189 aids in achieving superb fuel economy, while other tricks like covered rear wheel arches and a pair of cameras in place of mirrors also help the XL1. The XL1 will be built in limited numbers and sold only in left-hand drive, as a sort of green halo car. But the powertrain will eventually be ported into their Up! city car as a new, ultra-efficient model.

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61 Comments on “Volkswagen XL1 Ready For Prime Time...”


  • avatar
    KixStart

    $107K isn’t exactly “ready for prime time” in my end of the auto market.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Here we go doing direct currency conversions again …

      • 0 avatar
        niky

        70,000 pounds is more correctly converted into its equivalent in dollars, given the tax differential.

        So, $70k sounds more mainstream… right? :p

        Still, I don’t doubt they’ll sell a number of them. Looks like a very cool toy.

    • 0 avatar
      Manic

      Competitors in UK, price wise: Audi RS5,A8; BMW 6,7; Range Rovers; Cadillac CTS-V,Escalade; top spec Jaguars; MB S-Class,SL,GL; and Cayenne, 911 etc. VW probably has non existent yearly car tax compared to above vehicles. But it’s not cheap. This time VW has decided not to accept losses like with Veyron or Phaeton?

      http://www.carpages.co.uk/car-prices/car-prices-50000-plus-5.asp

  • avatar
    Easton

    So, people are expected to spend $107,000 on a car that looks like a 1980′s rendition of the future and has a plebian interior in order to look environmentally conscious or save a few thousand dollars worth of gas?! I see another catastrophic flop coming.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaCulpa

      Why? It’s hardly intended for mass production and moving a couple of hundred or thousands shouldn’t be an insurmountable problem.

      • 0 avatar
        Easton

        Wanna bet?

      • 0 avatar
        MeaCulpa

        Well enforcing the bet would be quite burdensome. I’m convinced this could be sold in super car volume – say a couple of thousand – without much difficulty, remember they have thousands of dealers in Germany alone. It’s still cheaper then a base 911 (starting at 74k in Britain) and a lot more special.
        Anyways the 1 liter car was called VW’s formula 1 by Ferdinand Piech back in the day, this iteration is simply an engineering challenge and a flagship/halo model.

      • 0 avatar

        I quite like it. It seems like a pretty neat experiment, and it will actually provide data to be used in more-practical cars. When you have a company whose portfolio of products is actually profitable, you can afford to do things like this.

        On an unrelated note, I’m interested in seeing whether or not it will have a coefficient-of-drag as low as that of the GM EV1, since that’s what it closely resembles in shape…

    • 0 avatar
      tatracitroensaab

      This is going to make a super amazing used car ten years from now. Repair costs are probably going to be a nightmare of course, but yeah this is going to be some car hipster’s wet dream… As for the costs, it looks like a clever way to get some publicity and get some rich suckers to basically cover the costs of an economy car platform.

      Also, since the price is in pounds it will probably be more like 70,000 dollars. Still ridiculous but not as bad

      • 0 avatar
        MeaCulpa

        Cover the cost of an economy car platform? Not so much, maybe an economy car engine but hardly a platform. I suspect that VW will not even make back the construction cost for each individual car if the production car is anything like the concept.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        As of today 70,000 GBP = $106,726. Less bad but no more reasonable. After they sell one apiece to Leno, DiCaprio, and Clooney, then what? It’s an impressive technical achievement. But it has the practical benefit of personal helicopter – sure there are a few people who can afford one but not enough to make much impact on society. If I bought one today I probably wouldn’t live long enough to achieve payback vs a normal car.

    • 0 avatar
      PeteRR

      They don’t have the luxury of using the GM/Volt method of selling a “Green” car. By that I mean have a friendly government grant you $50B for research and then kickback $7500 to you for every car you sell.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Probably move as many of them as Chevy does the SS.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Like this a lot. Never mind the price, this is how you get from A to B with a new paradigm. Make it attractive, communicate the message that this is pushing the engineering (not necessarily technology) envelope. I give VW props for putting something daring on the street.

  • avatar

    The buy in is too high but future has to start somewhere, I suppose.

    I expect to see Leonardo DeCaprio and the rest of the environmentally concious Hollywood set in these in the near future. They have the money to burn and their involvement will help drive the cost of this tech down to us mere mortals.

  • avatar

    I’d drive it. I can’t afford to buy it, but I’d drive it.

    • 0 avatar
      joeveto3

      I can’t afford it either, nor would I could I. But it’s a very neat car, and frankly, once you have minivans with nearly 300hp, and 0-60 times in the four second range are no longer exotic, super efficiency is the new “high performance.”

  • avatar
    redliner

    I was ready to name this the successor to the Honda Insight, until I got to the price. The insight was a little pricey itself, and it only cost about $20k.

    I don’t see why this has to cost that much. Make it out of lightweight aluminum and charge 1/3 the price. even if it’s economy suffers by 50%, that’s still incredibly efficient.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaCulpa

      Because the point of the car is to deliver better fuel economy then 1L/100km, making it less efficient would negate the main point of the car.

      • 0 avatar
        wumpus

        I guess as long as you only want to make a car to be a 1l/100km trophy, nobody intends to really drive it. If they wanted to drive the thing, the first thing would be to kick the electric engine up to something like 200hp (i.e. spin the wheels of something that light all the way up to the 150mph limit). A battery with that capacity should be able to provide that type of power (not saying that what they used could), with maybe an ultracap for using all the power.

        If you wanted to sell the car you need to design it so it isn’t hand assembled carbon fiber. Which probably means higher weight, more battery abuse (i.e. bigger and more expensive) and cut the electric engine down to something a bit more realistic. It would make an interesting project to see if there would be enough tooling left over to bother with, but my guess is “no”.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    VW obviously knows a lot more than me, but I get the feeling 100MPG in a 4 wheeled, 2 passenger thing could be accomplished for 1/10th the cost, even on a small scale.

    - Ditch the hybrid setup.
    - Go with fiberglass for the panels, aluminum tubing for the passenger compartment and stamped aluminum for the front/rear structures.
    - Make the motor a low RPM biased turbodiesel. The 2 cyl idea is smart though.
    - Use cheap but light means for refinement. Rubber mounted subframes, foam sound insulation etc

    The way I see it is like this. If a 400lb 650cc motorcycle (with ~200-250lb rider), in all its aerodynamic awfulness, can net 50-60MPG all day while still turning an 11 second quarter mile, one of these things, with 1/2 the aerodynamic load, 3-4x the weight and performance capacity deemed “adequate for Americans” (lets say a high 14 quarter mile) should be totally doable.

    The only real roadblock is safety. But given how many people drive 20-30 year old paper machee hatchbacks to hypermile, or completely unprotected motorcycles just for the thrill, I think there is a big market for cars like this priced more sanely- especially in today’s economy, and in the context of where petroleum is headed price wise.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      You may well be right that a 100mpg car could be designed for substantially less. But this is a 300mpg vehicle and the cost per extra mpg above say 100mpg is very expensive. As reported this technology will come down to lower cars, like the Up where you could see the realization of a 100mpg car at a “reasonable” price.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Fair enough. I just think a $10K 100MPG car is way more relevant than a $100K 300MPG car. Given essentially an unlimited budget you could probably make a 1000MPG car, but if the stuff that translates to the real world is only good for 2-3 MPG more, was the whole thing worth it?

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        I agree with you about a $10K car being more relevant. I don`t know if the tech from this vehicle will only translate to 2-3mog. If that was the case then it would be disappointing. If however this helps VW get the Up (and other models) much more fuel efficient – not 100mpg but lets say 75mpg, then it would be worth it.

      • 0 avatar
        Thinkin...

        @Sporty: You’re missing the point a bit. The “relevance” of this car is that we’re talking about it. That every major automobile news outlet ran a front-page story about it, and that it looks like it could be on posters on a kid’s wall. It’s about publicity, renown, and demonstrated innovation. It has an attention to detail like a Pagani and gullwing doors for goodness sake.

        Sure, they could’ve made just another $20k commuter car. In fact they make lots of them already, but they’re not particularly exciting or new-worth. The point of this exercise – announced the same week as VW’s record profits – is to make people take notice, and to kick the VW brand up a notch. Hence, the project’s relevance above and beyond another little econobox.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaCulpa

      Volkswagen did the 3L car in 99, the Lupo 3L that got 94 miles to the imperial gallon where this gets 310 to the imperial gallon. So the 75MPG car has already been achieved,

  • avatar
    bills79jeep

    There is something about those seats that I really like. Clean, simple, they just look nice. I wonder what they feel like after 3+ hours on the road.

  • avatar
    rushn

    For all those whining about the price, read the press release. They are not using mass production methods and not going for “cheap” manufacturing. So yeah, they can make it cheaper.

  • avatar

    I wonder if it will get 314mpg.

    This is pretty cool.

    This is not a mistake.

  • avatar
    Wraith

    I was thinking that they could just make a version with normal doors, mirrors, and less carbon fiber at a more reasonable price. Maybe slightly more power to make up for the additional weight. But this thing is smaller than a Miata, smaller than an old Insight. So not surprising they’ll be porting this powertrain to another model, rather than making a more affordable version of the XL1.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Rebadged EV1.

  • avatar
    lon888

    It looks like V-dub did a fine job freshening up the original Honda Insight – except for the outrageous price.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Add 2 doors and make it longer, and the rear lights and covered wheel arches are ready for the next-gen Fleetwood.

  • avatar
    djoelt1

    This is an ultra high performance halo car for a world leading manufacturer of automobiles. The end. So is a Porsche GT3. The Porsche GT3 I imagine moves a lot of Cayennes. This car will create buzz, draw traffic to showrooms, and get years of positive press for VW. Mind share of consumers, too. Then, when carbon fiber is 1/5 the price and higher MPG standards kick in, VW will have years of development on aerodynamics, small diesel engines, fender skirts, rear view cameras – new high tech stuff doesn’t start out on the cheapest cars. All car manufacturers would be wise to push the envelope in improving the one dimension of performance that will be mandatory in the future – high MPG.

    • 0 avatar
      993cc

      Exactly. This car is a moon shot, in the same way that the Veyron, and to a lesser degree, the Phaeton was. The business case is not based on profits per unit, but on the experience gained, and the technical resources developed.

      If VW sold an Up(!) with this drivetrain, I wouldn’t have to be checking out that nameless Mitsubishi.

    • 0 avatar
      Jamez9k

      Exactly. Think of it as a kind of long term investment for VW.

      I personally think this is actually an important model not only for VW but everyone else. It’s time we start thinking about the next step to take in the world of personal transport. If this is the future I can definitely deal with it.

    • 0 avatar
      Manic

      I think Porsche 918 is the halo car not GT3.

  • avatar
    tenzin

    VW says the XL1 needs just 8.3 hp to cruise steadily at 62 mph. The two-seater can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 12.7 seconds, and top speed is limited to 99 mph. A 2.6-gallon fuel tank gives the XL1 a theoretical range of 700 miles

    At more than 100K$ and cannot even be taken on a highway!!! This thing is definately not ready for prime time.

    • 0 avatar

      Wat?

    • 0 avatar
      nickeled&dimed

      Stating that this car cannot be taken on a highway is preposterous. There are thousands of cars on the road today that cannot accelerate to 62 mph in 12 seconds – any loaded tractor trailer for instance – and limiting the top speed to 99 mph doesn’t preclude this thing from any US highway. There are few enough stretches with 80 mph speed limits,and 99 mph is enough to get you charged with reckless driving even on those stretches.

      While I too think that this won’t be a huge production vehicle, I think it’d be sort of a Volt-type halo car, and I expect the technology developed will trickle down.

      • 0 avatar
        tbone33

        nickeled&dimes is absolutely right.

        We live in a world where people think 600cc bikes (135+ top speeds, 0-60 in under 4 seconds) are merely stepping stones to 1000 cc bikes. We live in a world where people say the Honda Fit is too underpowered (top speed 115, 0-60 in 9 seconds). I just assume this means we live in a world where people are either terrible drivers or unbelievably dumb.

      • 0 avatar
        MeaCulpa

        @tbone33

        That’s the truest thing I’ve seen/read/heard this year.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      I’m sure a number of us remember driving another VW product that didn’t even perform this well (top speed of about 80, even worse 0-60) on US highways a few decades back. In my case, it was a semi-automatic version of the same, which was even slower. I had no problem merging into traffic even with short on-ramps, it just took a bit of planning.

  • avatar

    This thing looks amazing.

    I wonder how it would do as a land speeder, with a transplanted drivetrain…

  • avatar
    gslippy

    There’s that ‘prime time’ term again.

    For some, $107k isn’t prime time. Yet lots of cars cost that much.

    For some, 0-60 in 12 seconds isn’t prime time. But this was OK in the 70s.

    The claim is 314 mpg (Euro cycle). When it encounters a 5 mph headwind it will drop to 280 mpg, and VW will be accused of lying.

    I just want to know if it will get a warranty better than 3/36.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    VW Volt, anyone?

  • avatar
    philadlj

    This car is pressing all my buttons. In a very good way. I only wish that little shape in the front of the door was the handle, a la Rolls-Royce Wraith. Alas, it’s a camera that serves as a sideview mirror.

  • avatar
    scrappy17

    Now, they need to give it to NYT for a test drive.

    A journalist will put half a gallon in the car and expect it to go 157 miles. The test will be done in the dead of winter, in Alaska with no gas station for 150 miles. He will get stranded and then write an article about it, stirring a ****storm online.

    • 0 avatar
      PCP

      Like…

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Actually, even ICE fuel economy is variable enough that the tiny gas tank in this thing looks like a questionable decision. They couldn’t find room for 5 gallons?

      However, if some intrepid reporter does manage to run out of fuel, AAA can bring him enough to fill the tank and carry on with his day in a half hour… as opposed to the resuscitation of a Tesla, which is a half hour for AAA to arrive, a half hour to get the car to a charger and then at least an hour to wait for a fill.

  • avatar
    sbunny8

    I am VERY glad to hear that they are actually going to sell some of these vehicles! I was terribly sad when I read about the concept car years and ago and read that it probably would never be sold to the public.

    When I was 13 my dad bragged about his AMC Pacer getting 21 mpg on the highway with the air conditioning running. Four years later, my older sister bragged that she once drove her 1981 Toyota Starlett 110 miles on only two gallons of gas (She was exaggerating; it was actually 2.5 gallons of gas). Honda advertised their Twinstar 180 motorcycle on TV, saying it got about 75 mpg. I thought it would only be a few years until we would all be driving 100+mpg cars. Three decades later we finally have EV’s with MPGe ratings over 100 but no ICEVs yet. Congrats to Volkswagen for pushing the envelope! Maybe in a couple years the price will come down to where I can afford one :-D

  • avatar
    oldyak

    I like it!!!
    Reminds me of some of the 30s aero cars by the French and German coach builders…
    This car will be collected after most of us are dead and buried……

  • avatar
    PCP

    From a technological point of view, this is so much more interesting than say a Veyron. Even if you like neither VW, Piech or Hybrids, you have to hand it to them for actually producing that car, even if only in a small series.

    The last milestone, albeit too soon forgotten, was the 3l Audi A1 – a car that actually only now gets the recognition it deserved from the start.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Slick, but what’s with the SVX windows?

  • avatar
    turbobrick

    Heck, if you’re going to build an exotic car, you might as well charge exotic prices for one.

  • avatar
    niky

    Funny that the Veyron comes up a lot in these comments. Because I think that’s the most similar VW product to the XL1.

    Both cars are moonshot engineering exercises. Like the Veyron, the XL1 will probably lose VW money hand-over-foot. But nobody will care. Because the whole point is to show that VW CAN. They CAN engineer cars like this, and they WILL sell them. Whether or not they’re practical or profitable is beside the point.

    I’ve never liked they Veyron. Simply because it looks like an overstuffed pig. No small feat considering it’s not really THAT big. But I’ve always respected the engineering that went into it. This car, however… is an exotic I want to drive. Simply because it’s like nothing else on the road today.

  • avatar
    vww12

    Phaetons that routinely cost £70,000 (incl 20% VAT) were sold Stateside for $70,000 (plus whatever sales tax you let your politicians con out of you).

    Still, at twice the price of a Volt, this is going to be a very hard sell.


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