By on January 25, 2011

Volkswagen’s 2002 “One Liter Car” was a classic project of the firm’s legendary chairman Ferdinand Piech. The grandson of Ferdinand Porsche was taken to setting staggering tasks for his engineers, who dutifully turned out such mechanical wonders as the world’s fastest car (Bugatti Veyron), the first car to achieve 1 liter per 100km fuel economy (the so-called “One Liter Car”), and the world’s most unnecessarily expensive Volkswagen (the Phaeton). Though it was never introduced for production, the One Liter Car convinced VW that diesels could be as efficient as any hybrid, and became a point of great pride for the company. A few years ago, there was even a rumor that a limited number would be made for sale to the public, but only an updated concept and vague talk of 2013 production ever materialized. And now, VW has introduced a new One Liter Car, called the XL1, in Qatar of all oil-rich places.

This time, the XL1 seats two side-by-side and has a plug-in hybrid drivetrain featuring a two-cylinder diesel making 47 HP and a 26 HP electric motor hooked to a Li-ion pack with up to 22 miles of EV range. The concept can reportedly hit 62 MPH in 11.6 seconds and has a top speed of 99 MPH. A 2.6 gallon tank gives the XL1 a 341 mile range, thanks in part to the low overall weight of 1,753 lbs. And with its larger, more conventional layout, VW isn’t being shy about the fact that this One Liter car represents a step closer to production.

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27 Comments on “VW Updates The One Liter (235 MPG) Car...”

  • avatar

    Reminds me of a updated, slicker 1st gen. Honda Insight.

  • avatar

    Looks pretty impressive to me…so @ 2.6 gall/340 miles they’re talking about 130mpg from this? Just hope the actual production version doesn’t need coil packs or window regulators! (ha! I kid, I kid…I’m sure it will be a benchmark of reliability like all VWs, ahem)

    I’m not looking forward to a world where everyone HAS to drive something like this…but facing facts, we’ve got to get creative over the coming decades about how to make the most of the oil that’s remaining…the real disappointment is that’s it’s VW and not HONDA (hello?! where’s the new “real” Insight?) that’s showing an attractive ‘produceable’ 2 seat sports/commuter with 100+ mpg.

    For shame Honda, for shame.

    • 0 avatar

      The 340 mile number seems to have come from an article <;, which also touts 313 mpg imperial.  This is repeated at <;
      I don’t understand their math.  By my calculations, 0.9l/100km with a 10l tank that equates to a range of 1111 km, or about 690 miles.  My guess is that the 340 mile number is correct and the 0.9 l/100km number is derived by playing games with the plug-in hybrid aspect of the powertrain.  Straight range/tank size = about 1.8l/100km, or about half as good as the press release touts.
      The industry really needs to come up with a way to make these kinds of claims more clear.

      • 0 avatar

        Since the car appears to have a 22 mile range as a pure electric, the most appropriate way to express mileage claims is probably as a pair of lines on a Mileage vs Fuel chart.  One for city driving and the other for highway driving.  The y intercept would be the range it can achieve in pure electric mode while the slope of the line would be the efficiency thereafter for each type of driving condition.  If your guess is correct for highway conditions, the highway mileage might be:  22 miles plus 100km/1.8L or simplified, 35 km plus 55km/L.

  • avatar

    Man, why do concept cars have to look so freaking cool?

  • avatar
    Brian P

    There’s one thing left to do: BUILD IT!
    I can’t see the up-swinging doors making it to production, but that’s not a big deal. I don’t like the rear wheel skirts, nevermind whatever aerodynamic benefit there might be, but I’m sure those can be removed.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m OK with the concept of wheel skirts, I just want to be able to clear a speed bump without dragging the wheel skirt. Maybe stop the skirt at the mid point of the wheel?

  • avatar

    This is a great design!  Kudos to VW.

  • avatar

    It looks like changing the rear tire might be a spot of bother. (Unless the fender skirt comes off easily.)

    Regardless, I have always thought that GM should have used a small diesel in the Volt. They are out there already in the millions. Many of them 2, 3, or 4 cylinder kubotas in Truck Trailer reefer units from Carrier and Thermo King

  • avatar

    …One Liter Car convinced VW that diesels could be as efficient as any hybrid…

    Yes.  Sure.  If you ignore pithy details like price, cost, safety, regulation, packaging, comfort and/or performance.

    The genius, if you could call it that, of the Prius is that it’s a normal car that can be used by normal people for normal stuff for sale at a normal price.  It’s not a two-seater.  it doesn’t cost a quarter-million.  It doesn’t go zero-to-sixty in under an hour.  It wouldn’t fold up like a tin can if it hit a bicycle.  Toyota figured this out when the Echo-ish first gen absolutely creamed the Insight in sales.

    • 0 avatar

      I wouldn’t call the Prius a “normal” price. It is very expensive for what it utimately is, a Corolla hatchback with bells on. Unless you use it in it’s ideal use case, a stop and go commute, the payback time over something like a Matrix is ludicrous. If you are doing distance highway driving a VW Jetta Wagon TDI is an infinitely superior car to drive, and gets similar real world fuel economy.

      I do think that the Prius is absolutely BRILLIANT in that intended use case though. It really is the perfect car for a nasty urban commute. But I sure would not want to drive ME-CA in one. I’d do that in a heartbeat in a TDI.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes.  Sure.  If you ignore pithy details like price, cost, safety, regulation, packaging, comfort and/or performance.
      I’ve got family that love the Prius. They are great commuter cars, but when it comes to normal/normal/normal four-seaters that cost <<<<250,000 that gets to sixty in under an hour, you can chalk me up for a Golf TDI over any Hybrid Synergy box.

    • 0 avatar

      A Prius is about as expensive as a Jetta diesel so i would call it a car with a normal price. It is much cheaper than any BMW or Mercedes

  • avatar

    Great car, but it could use my Adaptive Bumper invention for a little more passenger safety.

  • avatar

    If they built it and it was sub $35k, I’d seriously consider one. This is probably the coolest looking VW I’ve seen since… um…

  • avatar

    Love the instrument panel, love the front end.  Can I have one with 1.4 liter engine, under 2300 lbs, under $18K?  Please?  I donno, maybe call it “the people mover” or something to that effect…

  • avatar

    With 47hp diesel and 27hp electric combined… I don’t see this being viable on our roads.
    Technical problems: diesels and electric motors have fairly similar torque curves- that is, great on the low end, but tapers off significantly in the upper reaches. What this says to me is that if you combine both… you end up with something that’s great for commuting, but not something for performance.
    Diesel vehicles already command a premium over their petrol cousins. Hybrids already command a premium over their petrol cousins. Combine both and? Also, the reason this concept was able to achieve its weight target was through copious amounts of composites. In the real world, this would need to be made of steel and aluminum to achieve some sort of cost target.
    Diesels pollute more than their petrol cousins. They have only closed the gap by such arcane methods as urea-injection and complicated catalyst systems. With the start-stop operation that a hybrid entails, their emissions levels will only get worse.
    One other thing:
    People inexplicably like the bash the Prius while praising cars like the VW concept. I don’t understand to be frank. The Prius is a car that actually exists and can be bought, has very good fuel economy, can seat 4 people and their luggage fairly well, and has enough power to get out of its own way. Will the VW be the same in terms of real-world practicality? I don’t think so, even if it comes to fruition.

  • avatar

    Very hot.  However, by the time it’s produced, the high-tech design will have morphed into a smaller version of the very forgettable New Jetta, the electro-diesel will have been replaced by a 2.5 liter tractor engine, and the TTAC best and brightest will be writing endlessly on how unreliable it will be, and how bad the dealer network is.  But you’ll be able to option it out with half a dozen wheel choices, a bicycle rack for the roof, and a Fender radio, so it’ll have that going for it.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Well it looks great, but I think this is the guy version of fashion shows. You know, clothing made for genetic freaks.
    When I think about this car, I wonder how I could get in and out of it. How long after I got in it before my bad back makes me scream in agony. What are the odds that my wife will be able to get in and out, or sit in it comfortably.
    These questions are not incidental, the fuel economy is a function of the car’s shape and size. If it had the room and comfort of a Checker Marathon, it wouldn’t get the spectacular mileage.

  • avatar

    Pretty impressive vehicle.

  • avatar

    Wow. There aren’t many concept cars that have looked this good to me. Notice the missing side mirrors that have been replaced by cameras and LCD’s in the doors.

  • avatar

    They could have gone 236MPG and 25miles electric for the same weight (with an Atkinson petrol).

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