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The body pieces for the XL1, which are made of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic. Total car weight is just 1,753 lb. It is being assembled at a VW plant in Osnabrück, Germany, where the Golf Cabriolet and Porsche Boxster are also built.

The monocoque structure for the XL1. It weighs just 89.5 kg. Two people can fit in the car’s cabin; they sit side by side, but slightly offset, given that the car is just 65.6 in. wide.

VW XL1: The Hyper Efficient Hybrid Car

Volkswagen is producing the XL1, what it calls “the world’s most efficient production car,” in its plant in Osnabrück, Germany.

Volkswagen is producing the XL1, what it calls “the world’s most efficient production car,” in its plant in Osnabrück, Germany. Yes, it is a production plant. Yes, it is producing the car. But as for how many are being built, well, all we could find out at this early stage (the vehicle was officially announced on February 1, 2013) is that it is likely to be “thousands of vehicles”—over a multi-year period.

That notwithstanding, the plug-in hybrid vehicle undoubtedly lives up to that fuel efficiency claim. According to VW, it returns a European combined fuel consumption rating of 261 mpg.

To get there, the car is extremely light. It has a curb weight of 795 kg—or 1,753 lb. This is largely a function of the use of low-mass materials in the construction of the two-seater, primarily carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP). For example, the monocoque, which provides structure for the passenger compartment, weighs just 89.5 kg.

The skin is CFRP. VW engineers have calculated that the mass for the CFRP structure is 1.8 kg/m2, and that if a steel body was used, the mass would be 5.1 kg/m2.

In addition to which, the XL1 uses aluminum for crash energy management (in addition to the inherent capabilities of the CFRP: they don’t build Formula One cars out of composites simply because they’re light). Aluminum crash tubes with cross members are used at both the front and the rear of the car. Aluminum impact beams are located in the doors.

Magnesium is used for the below-dash cross member, as well as for the wheels. Lexan polycarbonate is used for the side windows.
 
The XL1 is powered by a hybrid that combines a 47-hp, two-cylinder TDI engine (a direct-injection turbodiesel), a 27-hp electric motor, and a seven-speed DSG dual clutch transmission. A 264-cell, 24.2-kWh lithium-ion battery pack is on board the vehicle. It has an electronically controlled top speed of 160 km/h (99 mph). It emits just 21 g/km CO2 on the NEDC rating.
 
The car has a coefficient of drag of 0.189. (By way of comparison: the coefficient of drag for the 2013 Toyota Prius is 0.25; it is 0.28 for the Chevy Volt.)
 
The VW XL1 is 153.1 in. long, 65.6 in. wide, and 45.4 in. tall.
 
It is the culmination of work that began in 2002, when the company developed the L1 concept vehicle. Undoubtedly, Prof. Dr. Ferdinand Piëch, chairman of the Volkswagen AG Supervisory Board, who initiated the development of this “one-liter” vehicle (i.e., a car that is rated at one liter of fuel per 100 km, or 235 mpg), will make certain that the XL1 is more than a one-off vehicle. 
 
The Volkswagen XL1. The plug-in hybrid seats two. And delivers 261 mpg. Yes, it is a real car.