Now that the super efficient Volkswagen XL1 is in limited production, the company is prepared to tackle a new challenge by giving it two more seats and adding a pair of rear doors, reports AutoCar.
The XL1’s mission is to go 100 kilometers on 1 liter of fuel, though it’s actual gas mileage rating is 256 MPG. Naturally adding two doors and two seats will require a slightly more powerful engine and battery, as well as a completely new carbon fiber central tub. Those changes will add about 150 kg to the current car, which tips the scales at 795 kg, or about 1,750 lbs. VW engineers hope the longer body will be somewhat more aerodynamic than the present car, allowing the new model to maintain its high MPG rating despite the increase in weight.
VW has its eye on the competition. The Toyota super-aerodynamic Mirai promises to offer outstanding fuel economy, albeit using hydrogen rather than diesel fuel, and is due to go on sale in 2015.
Rumors suggest the new 4 door car will be called the XL2, and the four seats will be staggered to keep the width of the car as narrow as possible for good aerodynamics so vital to maximum fuel economy. The rear doors are said to be hinged at the rear, as are the rear doors on the BMW i3. No word on price, but the XL1 sells for $169,000. Expect the four-passenger version to cost more than that.
Volkswagen may be facing the law of diminishing returns here. It own up! city car weighs just 926 kg and seats four, and while it only manages 52 mpg, it sells for one tenth what an XL1 costs. A person would have to drive about a million miles before the higher cost of the XL1 could be offset by fuel savings.
So what are the XL1 and XL2? Basically, rolling laboratories for Volkswagen to test out new manufacturing ideas before applying the lessons learned to its production cars. At present, the XL1 is only available in Germany and the XL2 will likely be limited to German roads as well. Look for it in about two years time.