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170 MPG Volkswagen L1 Hybrid Concept Car - Web Exclusive

The Most Fuel-Efficient Car in the World.

Sep 16, 2009

Volkswagen presented a concept of the future 1-liter fuel consumption car at the Frankfurt Auto Show pointing toward a production version. The full hybrid vehicle weighs just 840 lb thanks to its carbon fiber reinforced body.

Eurp_0909_01+volkswagen_l1_hybrid_concept_car+front_right Photo 2/11   |   170 MPG Volkswagen L1 Hybrid Concept Car - Web Exclusive

With a combined fuel consumption figure of 1.38 liters of diesel per 100km, this extremely aerodynamic (Cd 0.195) VW is intended to become the most fuel-efficient automobile in the world. CO2 emissions of the 160 km/h L1 are similarly low at just 36g/km.

The concept of a one-liter car is that it consumes one liter of fuel per 100km, or about 235mpg. However, the L1’s 1.38 l/100km is closer to 170mpg. Impressive nonetheless.

The history of this program dates back seven years when VW’s Dr Ferdinand Piëch drove a prototype from Wolfsburg to Hamburg – the world’s first car with fuel consumption of one liter of fuel per 100km. The man and machine wrote automotive history.

In 2002, it was clear the time for a production version of the 1-Litre car lay far in the future. Production of the body itself – from carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) – was far too expensive. But by 2009 Volkswagen is claiming that with new technology and a new design, the concept is close to production readiness.

“It is an enormous challenge to control costs in producing the monocoque out of CFRP,” said VW’s Dr Ulrich Hackenberg.

Both technically and visually, the CFRP body is a significant achievement in car design. At 12.5ft long, it’s similar to that of a VW Fox, while it’s the same height as a Lamborghini Murciélago.

In developing both prototype generations of the L1, Volkswagen questioned everything that characterized an automobile. The starting point was body construction, and a core question was how would a car consume as little energy as possible. The answer was in aerodynamics and light weight. Yet these objectives had to be achieved with maximum safety.

The seat layout was dictated by the aerodynamic form of a glider: One seat behind the other. Entry is also like a glider; through a roof cover hinged at the side.

On the second gen L1, the concept has been honed; with aluminum chassis components and the crucial CFRP technology from Formula-1 racing. This has been combined with a unique form of hybrid drive to create a near-production vehicle. 2013 is the target for this dream to become a reality.

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