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Published on September 14th, 2009 | by Jerry James Stone

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Volkswagen's Diesel-Hybrid L1 Concept Gets 170 MPG, Available by 2013

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Volkswagen will display an updated version of its 1-Liter concept this week at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. The diesel-hybrid car which only weighs around 800 lbs gets an jaw-dropping 170 MPG. So who wants one?

It was seven years ago when VW first announced the idea. Dr. Ferdinand Piëch–currently the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Volkswagen Group–drove a prototype of the car from Wolfsburg to Hamburg. It was the world’s first car to travel 100 kilometers on just a single liter of fuel. But the concept wasn’t ready for production as the body’s carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) was too costly for consideration.

“It is an enormous challenge to control costs in producing the monocoque out of CFRP,” says Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, member of the Board of Management for the Volkswagen Brand with responsibility for development.

The 2-seater L1, with a length of 150 inches, is still similar to that of a Volkswagen Fox, and a height of 45 inches..it nearly matches that of a Lamborghini Murciélago.

Aerodynamics was a huge part of the L1 concept. The idea behind it was the form of a glider–one seat behind the other. It has a special chasi of aluminum components to take advantage of the CFRP body.

The two-cylinder rail-injected TDI, the E-motor and the 7-speed Direct Shift Gearbox are all rear located. The combo not only delivers a low fuel consumption but it only emits 36 g/km of C02. The hybrid module has been integrated into the housing of the 7-speed DSG and consists of a 10 kW / 14 PS electric motor and a clutch.

During general acceleration the electric motor can supply 40-percent additional torque and even propel the L1 over a short distance by itself. It also operates as a generator to charge the lithium-ion battery by recovering braking energy.

Full details on the car can be found at VWVortex. On display with the L1 concept, Vdub will also be showing off their Up! concept. I suspect we will be seeing a lot of these roll out under VW’s new BlueMotionTechnologies brand.

Source: VWVortex

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About the Author

is a web developer, part-time blogger, and a full-time environmentalist. His crusade for all things eco started twenty years ago when he ditched his meat-and-potatoes upbringing for something more vegetarian-shaped. His passions include cooking, green tech, eco politics, and smart green design. And while he doesn't own a car anymore, he loves to write about those too. Jerry studied at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA. During his time there he was a DJ at the campus station KCPR and he also wrote for the campus paper. Jerry currently resides in San Francisco, CA with his cat Lola. You can stalk him on Twitter @jerryjamesstone.



  • Bob

    It seems to me that this rig would have low fuel consumption, and not high fuel consumption as described in the artice.

  • Bob

    It seems to me that this rig would have low fuel consumption, and not high fuel consumption as described in the artice.

  • Bob

    It seems to me that this rig would have low fuel consumption, and not high fuel consumption as described in the artice.

  • Bob

    It seems to me that this rig would have low fuel consumption, and not high fuel consumption as described in the artice.

  • htl

    it must be a typo

  • htl

    it must be a typo

  • http://badflorida.com phil

    No Republican would buy it. we believe in big, thirsty cars

    like Rush Limbaugh’s V-12 Mercedes Sedan.

  • http://badflorida.com phil

    No Republican would buy it. we believe in big, thirsty cars

    like Rush Limbaugh’s V-12 Mercedes Sedan.

  • Marvin

    Phil, you are an ignoramus.

  • Marvin

    Phil, you are an ignoramus.

  • nina taylor

    Yuck!! Let me say that again… YUCK!

    This isn’t even news worthy. What about Tesla sedan, or that Goss132 company??

    Those I would be interested in reading about!

  • nina taylor

    Yuck!! Let me say that again… YUCK!

    This isn’t even news worthy. What about Tesla sedan, or that Goss132 company??

    Those I would be interested in reading about!

  • http://www.mikestechblog.com mike

    Wow Phil, that sounds like a pretty narrow minded / possibly even bigoted comment.

    At least this Republican would buy one, but then I, as a Republican also built my own solar heating panel back in the 80′s too.

  • http://www.mikestechblog.com mike

    Wow Phil, that sounds like a pretty narrow minded / possibly even bigoted comment.

    At least this Republican would buy one, but then I, as a Republican also built my own solar heating panel back in the 80′s too.

  • Captain Obvious

    Wow phil… what douche move there.

  • Captain Obvious

    Wow phil… what douche move there.

  • Dave

    Teh uglee.

  • Dave

    Teh uglee.

  • Paul

    Er….so it seats 2 people, front and back?

  • Paul

    Er….so it seats 2 people, front and back?

  • http://www.thereheis.com SLEZE

    Meh. Although 170 MPG is a great number, this is an absurd design. Just make a Diesel-hybrid Golf/Jetta and crush the Prius already!

  • http://www.thereheis.com SLEZE

    Meh. Although 170 MPG is a great number, this is an absurd design. Just make a Diesel-hybrid Golf/Jetta and crush the Prius already!

  • mike

    chevy volt anybody?

  • mike

    chevy volt anybody?

  • http://www.ubuntu.com Bruce Jr

    Have give dave a break, he was doing parody. Get over it.

    I would definitely would purchase this. It is an awesome design and would look great next to my 2000 Honda Insight.

    Can not come fast enough, hope it will take 100% bio-diesel because that will be all I would put in it. Besides the three winter months where most-likely be 50-50.

  • http://www.ubuntu.com Bruce Jr

    Have give dave a break, he was doing parody. Get over it.

    I would definitely would purchase this. It is an awesome design and would look great next to my 2000 Honda Insight.

    Can not come fast enough, hope it will take 100% bio-diesel because that will be all I would put in it. Besides the three winter months where most-likely be 50-50.

  • bdizz

    “It was the world’s first car to travel 100 kilometers on just a single liter of fuel” – big deal…I can travel 100 k on my bicycle on less than a liter of fuel – and my fuel’s renewable. how about instead of developing slightly better technologies to put of the inevitable loss of an unsustainable resource people start burning the excess of human fat that the US has on its hands. A little bit of sweat is not that big of a problem.

  • bdizz

    “It was the world’s first car to travel 100 kilometers on just a single liter of fuel” – big deal…I can travel 100 k on my bicycle on less than a liter of fuel – and my fuel’s renewable. how about instead of developing slightly better technologies to put of the inevitable loss of an unsustainable resource people start burning the excess of human fat that the US has on its hands. A little bit of sweat is not that big of a problem.

  • AL F.

    Right you are Phil.

    Most Republicans couldn’t even fit in one of these.

  • AL F.

    Right you are Phil.

    Most Republicans couldn’t even fit in one of these.

  • dtimothymoore

    There is a race going on with competing approaches (electric, hybrid, diesel) to develop and commercialize viable designs that are safe, carbon free and able to travel distance and aren’t glorified golf carts. While the VW design is a prototype, we are beginning to see some exciting new designs that will make current model cars obsolete. The next five years ought to be very interesting…….

  • dtimothymoore

    There is a race going on with competing approaches (electric, hybrid, diesel) to develop and commercialize viable designs that are safe, carbon free and able to travel distance and aren’t glorified golf carts. While the VW design is a prototype, we are beginning to see some exciting new designs that will make current model cars obsolete. The next five years ought to be very interesting…….

  • d

    fantastic-about time-i would buy one, except i have a family, and need more seating. and i’m assuming the side skirt over the back tires remove easily for changing tires-unless…don’t tell me..they re-inflate LOL

    really–i think it’s a fantastic concept and i really like the construction of the vehicle. it will sell and i’m wondering for how much??but family size vehicles will sell better

  • d

    fantastic-about time-i would buy one, except i have a family, and need more seating. and i’m assuming the side skirt over the back tires remove easily for changing tires-unless…don’t tell me..they re-inflate LOL

    really–i think it’s a fantastic concept and i really like the construction of the vehicle. it will sell and i’m wondering for how much??but family size vehicles will sell better

  • d

    and what about the trunk? no picture of that-if there is one. need one for traveling and the groceries. because a vehicle that can go that far will be pushed that far and needs storage

  • d

    and what about the trunk? no picture of that-if there is one. need one for traveling and the groceries. because a vehicle that can go that far will be pushed that far and needs storage

  • http://theclutterwar.blogspot.com/ Christopher DeMorro

    This car is ridiculous.

    It has 29-38 horsepower, and maximum torque of 135 ft-lbs. It will take two and a half days to reach highway speeds.

    Also, those doors ain’t gonna work.

  • http://theclutterwar.blogspot.com/ Christopher DeMorro

    This car is ridiculous.

    It has 29-38 horsepower, and maximum torque of 135 ft-lbs. It will take two and a half days to reach highway speeds.

    Also, those doors ain’t gonna work.

  • Antonio Andolini

    Some people are saying this thing will probably be priced in the mid 20K range.

    Also, will this pass the US crash test standards with its carbon fiber? Consequently, this may possibly only be sold in Europe.

    Nevertheless, I think this car will work great for someone who has a long commute…could save that commuter $3-4K/year…fuel savings could pay for the car in less than 8 years.

    • http://www.yourvacuumguy.com Cody Sortore

      Carbon fiber is as strong as steel, in fact it is stronger than steel in many respects as when it fails it only fails locally. Look at Formula 1 cars they are 100% carbon fiber, often crash going 100+ MPH and the drivers survive. If you watch some crash test videos you’ll see that steel framed cars going only 35mph crumple and bend (and not just the zones where they are supposed to absorb impact).

  • Antonio Andolini

    Some people are saying this thing will probably be priced in the mid 20K range.

    Also, will this pass the US crash test standards with its carbon fiber? Consequently, this may possibly only be sold in Europe.

    Nevertheless, I think this car will work great for someone who has a long commute…could save that commuter $3-4K/year…fuel savings could pay for the car in less than 8 years.

  • M. Y.

    Sounds like a very expensive and emasculated Prius imitation. Not terribly useful unless compared to a bicycle. Imagine an 800 pound flammable carbon fiber shell colliding with a standard car. Not a pretty picture.

  • M. Y.

    Sounds like a very expensive and emasculated Prius imitation. Not terribly useful unless compared to a bicycle. Imagine an 800 pound flammable carbon fiber shell colliding with a standard car. Not a pretty picture.

  • http://bulgariantraveling.com/m/2/alene web

    PROTIP: MPG ratings on semi-electric cars are not reliable.

    Theoretically a plugin hybrid can have infinite gas mileage.

    Until these tests are standardized, independent and account for the cost of electricity – these numbers have no credibility.

  • http://bulgariantraveling.com/m/2/alene web

    PROTIP: MPG ratings on semi-electric cars are not reliable.

    Theoretically a plugin hybrid can have infinite gas mileage.

    Until these tests are standardized, independent and account for the cost of electricity – these numbers have no credibility.

  • Alfred Herman Schrader

    I like this uber thinking, but it is just the start.

    In November 2009 the Large Hadron Collider guys are going to test for the particle I discovered = the Graviton. This is the particle that causes gravity & inertia, one of the major factors in fuel consumption…Alfred Herman Schrader

  • Alfred Herman Schrader

    I like this uber thinking, but it is just the start.

    In November 2009 the Large Hadron Collider guys are going to test for the particle I discovered = the Graviton. This is the particle that causes gravity & inertia, one of the major factors in fuel consumption…Alfred Herman Schrader

  • MikeP

    I think it looks kind of sporty. I would much rather drive this car than an ugly Geo metro egg or some boxish looking, old design such those the other car makers continue to churn out. Bring on the aerodynamics. Finally! Good job VW! Put these on the market in the US – I will buy one! Unless the american car makers get with the program and make something comparable that I like better!

  • MikeP

    I think it looks kind of sporty. I would much rather drive this car than an ugly Geo metro egg or some boxish looking, old design such those the other car makers continue to churn out. Bring on the aerodynamics. Finally! Good job VW! Put these on the market in the US – I will buy one! Unless the american car makers get with the program and make something comparable that I like better!

  • James Northrup

    We have the first Honda Insight, which resembles this car. It’s basically a small version of a Citroen sedan from the ’70s’, which was distinctive and very aerodynamic. So if the shape works, keep it. We also have a MB 320 D sedan which gets 40 MPG easily at 60 mph on the freeway – so can see that 80 + MPG would be no sweat for this design. If they can meet some crash-tests with the design, and get the price point right, should sell well world wide – even in the US . . .

  • James Northrup

    We have the first Honda Insight, which resembles this car. It’s basically a small version of a Citroen sedan from the ’70s’, which was distinctive and very aerodynamic. So if the shape works, keep it. We also have a MB 320 D sedan which gets 40 MPG easily at 60 mph on the freeway – so can see that 80 + MPG would be no sweat for this design. If they can meet some crash-tests with the design, and get the price point right, should sell well world wide – even in the US . . .

    • http://Web Mike

      This Volkswagen’s Diesel-Hybrid L1 concept is a really futuristic car is very detailed.

  • Stu

    How am I supposed to fit in that? 6’8 size 19 shoe and still growing!

  • http://www.AndIThoughT.com Saba Rahman

    Can you imagine how much crude we would have saved, have we had these types of vehicles/engines available just few decads back ,,,,, !!!? and proportionally less green house gasses and global warming ….

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