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Using the oil-rich state of Qatar to unveil a hyper-efficient vehicle might seem like an odd choice, but VW choice the Qatar Auto Show as the venue for the launch of its XL1 Super Efficient Vehicle (SEV). Based on the original 1-Liter car of 2002 and the 170mpg L1 hybrid concept from 2009, the XL1 again features advanced construction techniques, a plug-in hybrid drivetrain and innovative packaging to allow it to return 0.9L/km (261mpg US) on the combined cycle, while emitting 24g/km of CO2.
Powering the XL1 is a compact 800cc TDI two-cylinder common-rail diesel engine developing 48hp. It’s linked to an electric motor producing 27hp, resulting in a total of 75hp – a modest output, yet more than enough with the low curb weight of 1752 lb. The TDI engine is linked to an electric motor and a seven-speed DSG transmission with an automatic clutch mounted between each unit. The electric motor can either work independently of the TDI engine or in tandem when accelerating.
In pure electric mode, the XL1 can travel up to 22 miles before the diesel engine cuts in. Accelerating from rest to 62mph can be achieved in 11.9 seconds; the electronically limited top speed is 99mph. In both its styling and packaging, the XL1 draws on lessons learned from the 1-Litre car (2002) and the L1 concept (2009). The XL1 has evolved to feature staggered seating with the driver and passenger placed next to each other in a body structure made from advanced new materials providing immense strength yet weighing just 507 lb. To make such weight savings possible, and yet viable for series production, Volkswagen developed and patented a new system for the manufacture of the Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) parts on the car called the Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM) process. In total the XL1 weighs 1752 lb. In addition to the body structure, the weight is accounted for by the drivetrain (500 lb), the running gear (337 lb), the interior including a pair of bucket seats (176 lb) and the electrical system (231 lb). In total just 23.2 per cent of the car (405 lb) is made out of either steel or iron.
Further savings are made through the extensive use of lightweight materials including magnesium (wheels), ceramics (brake discs) and aluminum (dampers, steering system, brake calipers). The styling of the XL1 is borne out of functional requirements – easy access to the interior is granted via a pair of scissor doors that hinge on the A-pillar, while the profile of the car has been honed in the wind tunnel, the result being a remarkable coefficient of drag figure of 0.186.
The XL1’s overall length and width are similar to those of a Volkswagen Polo yet its height is more akin to that of a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder.
Although the XL1 is still very much a concept, its unveiling marks the next step towards the birth of a new class of Super Efficient Vehicles, while the advent of a process such as RTM is a significant milestone.
Evolution of Volkswagen’s Super Efficient Vehicle class: technical data
|XL1 (2011)||L1 (2009)||1-Litre (2002)|
|Body||CFRP monocoque and add-on parts||Aluminum and CFRP||Magnesium and carbon fiber|
|Type||Plug-in hybrid Rear-wheel drive||Plug-in hybrid Rear-wheel drive||Diesel Rear-wheel drive|
|Internal combustion engine||TDI, two-cylinder 800 cc 35 kW / 48 PS, 120 Nm||TDI, two-cylinder 800 cc 39 PS, 100 Nm||Single cylinder 299 cc 8.5 PS, 18.4 Nm|
|Electric motor||20 kW / 27 PS, 100 Nm||10 kW / 14 PS||n/a|
|Gearbox||7-speed DSG||7-speed DSG||6-speed automated|
|Emissions class||Euro 6||Euro 6||n/a|
|Kerb weight||795 kg||380 kg||290 kg|
|Performance / fuel economy|
|Top speed, km/h||160 (electronically limited)||160 (electronically limited)||n/a|
|0-100 km/h, secs||11.9||14.3||n/a|
|Fuel consumption, l/100 km / mpg (Ø NEDC)||0.9 / 313||1.38 / 189||0.99 / 285|
|CO2 emissions, g/km (Ø NEDC)||24||36||n/a|
|Range: E-drive||35 km||n/a||n/a|
|Range: TDI + E-drive||approx 550 km (10 liter fuel tank)||670 km (10 liter fuel tank)||650 km (6.5 liter fuel tank)|