The Volkswagen XL1 has the chance to really shake up the market for fuel efficient and alternative-fuel vehicles, much like the legendary GM EV1. ike the GM EV1, Volkswagen wants to exert a certain level of control over these super-expensive fuel sippers, and it will only be available for lease.
This is not an uncommon practice when it comes to expensive, futuristic vehicles. The Honda FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel cell car can only be leased (and for $800 a month), and the all-electric MINI Cooper E was another lease-only model. This move by Volkswagen will insure that owners are located near service centers, and also that there won’t be any secondary market for used vehicles.
Why so protective? It could to be protect company secrets, as the XL1 will use a two-cylinder turbodiesel combined with a hybrid drivetrain to achieve up to 261 mpg. Combine that with a carbon fiber shell and complicated computer systems, and I can understand why Volkswagen might want to keep a close eye on these cars.
That, and the fact that the market for a $200,000 hybrid that takes a leisurely 12.7 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph is quite limited, a leasing option is probably the only way to make dollars and cents on this odd vehicle. This the next level of market research people, and could eventually lead to the next generation of uber-efficient vehicles.
Better to play it close to your chest than to tip your hand to the competition.