Given the Persian Gulf’s rich oil reserves, the Qatar Auto Show seems like an unlikely place for Volkswagen to unveil a concept car that is super fuel efficient, burning only 1 liter of fuel for every 100 kilometers it travels. That equates to 235 mpg, which must come across as a very welcome development to Europeans who are facing gasoline prices of $9 per gallon.
VW’s XL1 concept, unveiled at the Qatar Auto Show, is a range-extended vehicle, very similar in concept to the Chevrolet Volt. But this VW mates a 2-cylinder 48-bhp diesel engine with a 20-kW electric motor, and the power for this plug-in hybrid concept with lithium-ion batteries reaches the wheels via VW’s 7-speed DSG gearbox.
Featuring a lightweight monocoque chassis with a super slippery (0.186 CD) body that has many parts made of carbon fiber, the 1750-lb. XL1 concept actually is a bit more efficient than expected — VW says it actually burns only 0.9 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers.
The pure electric range of the XL1 is about 22 miles. However, when you top off its diesel tank and drive the XL1 until all its fuel is exhausted, the range of this VW concept is about 340 miles.
Volkswagen says the XL1 hits 100 km/h (62 mph) in 11.9 seconds, and has a top speed just shy of 100 mph.
Best yet, while not exactly groundbreaking, the exterior design is cool, sleek and low down, with enclosed rear wheels and quasi-gullwing doors. Frankly, it looks much better than VW’s L1 Concept from 2009. Although the interior is a bit tight, with the passenger positioned a bit rearward of the driver, the XL1 provides both occupants with decent elbow room.
Those who recall the VW L1 Concept will remember it as a “nice, but you can’t be serious” look at the future of mega mpg. In contrast, the XL1 Concept appears quite livable. The economics of mixing an expensive diesel engine with an expensive hybrid electric drive system seem problematical, but who knows? Also, precisely calculating (and listing) the XL1’s fuel economy will be just as tricky as it has been with the Chevrolet Volt.
Nevertheless, this VW might be your chariot to the Brave New World. We’ll have more information in a few days, after we get a chance to drive VW’s XL1.