The XL1 was a small, limited production car made by Volkswagen as a Bugatti Veyron-type effort. Not to make profit, but to push the limits of their engineering. What the Veyron was to speed, the XL1 is to fuel economy and efficiency.
Its name in development was the “Volkswagen 1-Litre car”.
This meant that the car was designed with a goal in mind that it would be able to travel 100 kilometers on 1 liter of diesel fuel, something like 280 MPG. To achieve this, VW used many techniques such as aerodynamics learned from their racing program, lightweight technologies, and hybrid diesel technology
As you can see, Volkswagen put a lot of effort into smoothing out the XL1 for aerodynamics. It has practically no air intakes, despite having an engine, it’s shaped like an egg, and you can see, it has covers over the rear wheels for drag reduction, a flat underside, and no rear view mirrors. The XL1 uses cameras instead.
This all contributes to a drag coefficient of no less than 0.189, which is the lowest in automotive history, compared to a regular car’s 0.30–0.40. The car is also pretty small too. It only seats two, but it’s only 153.1″ long, 65.1″ wide, and just 45.4″ tall.
To keep weight down, the XL1 uses a carbon-fiber monocoque, like a supercar. Everything has been designed to lower weight, which is why the wheels are carbon fiber, the suspension system is aluminum, and the brakes are carbon-ceramic. The vehicle weighs about 1753 pounds, incredibly low for a road car.
The car’s engine fits its small size. It’s propelled by an 0.8 liter (800 cc) turbo-diesel two-cylinder that produces just 47 horsepower. This works in conjunction with a 27 horsepower electric motor for a combined max output of 68 horsepower and 100 lb-ft. The cars 5.5 kWh battery pack gives an all-electric range of 31 miles, in addition to a 10-liter fuel tank.
All in all, VW managed to get 310 MPG out of the little XL1, which is a record for production cars. VW sold 250 of these little guys, and they probably wouldn’t have sold much more, because of the car’s high $146,000 starting price. It wasn’t sold in the US, but has been imported since then as a rare show and display car.
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