Volkswagen XL1 confirmed

February 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

vw_xl1_3So it’s finally been confirmed: Volkswagen is to build the XL1 ‘1-litre’ car, albeit in a very limited production run of just 50 vehicles, which, given their handbuilt carbonfibre bodies, will no doubt not be cheap (no prices announced as yet). Enough of an output to secure Volkswagen the record for the most fuel-efficient and aerodynamic production car yet made, anyway, and to act as road-going showcases for tech which will  filter into more mundane-looking mainstream models in due course (Autocar is reporting that the XL1 drivetrain will be fitted in an Up! hybrid in 18 months’ time, for example). Lowdown on the car’s designer, Maximilian Missoni (now at Volvo) at Car Design News, btw.

An ultra-aerodynamic plug-in diesel hybrid two-seater, the XL1 uses less than 1 litre of fuel per 100km – 0.9 litres, Volkswagen claims, equivalent to a phenomenal 314mpg (in ideal conditions, of course: real-life consumption will be less spectacular) and with a CO2 output of 21g/km. It’s aided by a weight of just 795kg and its long-and-low outline, can do over 99mph and 0-62mph in 12.7 seconds, and it’ll do up to 50km in all-electric mode before the two-cylinder, 800cc 48PS diesel engine kicks in. Given the seven-speed DSG transmission, it should even be a rewarding drive. More details will be announced at the Geneva Motor Show next month, when Volkswagen will also be launching the Golf Mk7 plug-in hybrid (with 1.4 TSI petrol engine) and its sister model, the Audi A3 e-tron, both to go on sale next year. Oh, and also at Geneva: the hybrid McLaren P1, which can do up to 10km in all-electric mode – press release on that posted here. Green, as hyper-cars go, I guess, and A Good Thing for consciousness-raising.

  • Balanced article by Tali Trigg at Scientific American on state-of-play with EVs: he makes the point that given the existing infrastructure and potential to slot into existing grid (and future clean-electricity) supplies, EVs “offer a clean solution in the near term” and a better value-proposition than “yet another hyped vehicle technology” (i.e. hydrogen, for which you need to establish a sufficiently low-energy generation/production/supply chain, which hasn’t been cracked yet). He also acknowledges that there is probably no one solution, and the importance of  “improving conventional fuel economy and better urban planning and public transit options” – all crucial stuff too in the short- to-medium term.
  • Here’s a phrase to remember: “transit legacy cities”. In the USA, that refers to cities which were founded before the advent of the automobile, and which thus have (or were originally built with, at least) a public transport infrastructure. The most concentrated use of public transport for commuting in the country is in the “legacy cities” of New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston and Washington, says Wendell Cox at New Geography, where there’s a detailed breakdown of commuter habits in metropolitan and surburban areas. Lessons for London and the older cities of Europe?
  • The IBM/NXP connected vehicles SmartCloud trial in Eindhoven noted improved traffic flow, lower congestion and better resolution of emergencies and incidents; more at Green Car Congress. Mind, you, there are concerns (in the US) over conflicting uses of the frequency spectrum for connected cars, reports Wired.
  • Updates on the Nissan FF (Front-engined, Front-wheel-drive) hybrid drivetrain here. And I’ve just learned a new German word: freikolbenlineargenerator, FKLG for short. Means free-piston linear generator;  a team at the German Aerospace Centre  has developed a multi-fuel example of this which could be used as a range-extender for EVs, in place of an engine. Science bit at Green Car Congress.
  • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, the Frauenhofer Institute for Systems and Innovations Research, Siemens and Michelin are launching a new high-mileage EV trial to study cost-efficiency; EVs will be used by staff travelling to and fro over the French-German border. More here.
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