GENEVA MOTOR SHOW: Green light for world's greenest car

Volkswagen confirms super-frugal XL1 eco-hatch for production following its Geneva debut

Volkswagen has confirmed it will commence building small quantities of its oddball XL1 eco-car, which is four times more efficient than a Toyota Prius hybrid.

Volkswagen supremo Dr Ferdinand Piech has been a staunch crusader for the cutting-edge '1 litre' car project since it was first proposed more than a decade ago, and Europe’s largest car-maker has confirmed it for a glitzy world debut at the 2013 Geneva motor show on March 5.

First seen at the Qatar motor show in January 2011, the radical two-seater concept is powered by an 800cc diesel-electric hybrid system that’s claimed to consume just 0.9L/100km – less than 25 per cent of the world’s most frugal mass-market hybrid, the Prius (3.9L/100km).

Clad in unusual aerodynamic bodywork that allows the lightweight Veedub to effortlessly slice through the air, the XL1 is able to travel more than 500km on a tank of fuel, matching most mainstream small cars.

However, in this case fuel capacity is only 10 litres - compared to the 71-litre tank on a VE Holden Commodore – and VW says an average fill will cost just $15.

Owning a futuristic XL1won't come cheap though, as the car's feather-light 795kg kerb mass is achieved using exotic, hand-made construction methods.

No price has been announced, but its carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) body panels are just 1.2mm thick and coupled with magnesium wheels, ceramic brakes, polycarbonate side windows, all-aluminium suspension and special low rolling resistance Michelin tyres.

The car's compact dimensions (3888mm long and 1153mm tall) make the XL1 shorter than many small cars and lower than some sports cars. The limited-production Volkswagen also features wing doors that open vertically, a la some exotic cars.

The XL1's ground-hugging posture works in tandem with a wind-cheating body shape to make the most out of every last drop of fuel: the car's drag co-efficient of 0.189Cd is the lowest of any production car thus far.

Underneath the wedge-shaped carbon body is a tiny 800cc twin-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that ekes out 35kW/120Nm, while the electric motor is good for 20kW/140Nm. Volkswagen says combined output is 51kW/140Nm – enough to see it accelerate to 100km/h in a not-disgraceful 12.7 seconds.

Hooked up to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox (DSG), the car has a top speed of 160km/h and can drive in pure electric mode for up to 50km, thanks to its 5.5kWh lithium-ion battery pack.

Production of the new Volkswagen XL1 two-seat vehicle will begin in March at the VW's Osnabruck factory, alongside vehicles such as the Porsche Boxster and Golf Cabriolet.

It's expected that many of the materials and construction techniques employed by the XL1 will trickle into future mainstream models from Volkswagen, but the car’s main reason for being is to underline the company’s intention to become the world leader in ‘e-mobility’ vehicles.

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Published : Friday, 22 February 2013
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