This is actually the third generation of the of high-mileage, one-liter engine-powered VW concept. Back in 2002, the first 1-Liter was shown off, and then in 2009 a second-generation L1 debuted to much ohhing and ahhing over the 170 mpg rating. But VW wasn’t seriously going to make this car, right?
Well…maybe, especially given that we’re now seeing a third generation of these one-liter diesel concepts. The latest iteration, called the XL1, that supposedly gets 261 mpg from the one-liter diesel engine, using just 0.9 liters of fuel per 100 km. A large part of this efficiency comes from the XL1’s light weight (just over 1,700 pounds) which was made possible using carbon fiber construction processes developed for Formula 1. Apparently these processes have made construction of the XL1 much cheaper, making a limited production run plausible.
Still, don’t expect it to be a cheap car as there is a lot of technology under the back-half of the XL1. A 0.8 liter, two-cylinder diesel TDI engine is coupled to a seven-speed automatic transmission and an electric motor that can deliver 100 Nm (73 ft-lbs) of torque. 0-62 mph takes almost 12 seconds, but the Xl1 has a limited top speed of 100 mph. The lithium-ion battery pack can be charged via the engine or a household outlet, and both the engine and electric motor can combine to power the XL1, or the electric motors can carry the high-mileage vehicle at light loads on its own even at highway speeds thanks to the low drag coefficient of just .18 (the Prius has like a .27 for reference). There’s so much technology and money tied up in this project that its hard to imagine it actually coming to market.
Then again, VW has sunk a lot of time, effort, and money into this line of concepts, and it has gotten a lot of positive press. Even if they only sell it in limited numbers at a ridiculous price, it could pave the way for producing these kinds of cars en masse. Yeah, its easy to get excited over 50 mpg, but if we really want to stretch out those oil reserves, we’ve got to start thinking of ways to attain triple-digit mpg numbers.
If VW can do it, there’s no reason other automakers can’t do it too. It’s just up to somebody to make it profitable-yet-affordable, fast, fun, and fuel efficient. A tall order, but surely some automaker is up to the challenge?
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to Hemis. You can follow his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout.