• Jan 27th 2011 at 7:01PM
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Volkswagen Formula XL1 Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

Well, what do you know? When Volkswagen decided to show off the latest version of its so-called one-liter car, the Formula XL1, at the Qatar Motor Show, we wondered out loud whether or not the German automaker would actually manage to put it into production. As it turns out, that's the plan, albeit at a very small scale.

According to Automobilwoche (sub. req'd, via The Truth About Cars), Volkswagen will build 100 XL1s as a small batch of regular production machines... meaning they'll actually be offered for sale to the general populace. No word on what will power the production models, but the concept featured a two-cylinder TDI engine, electric motor, lithium-ion battery pack and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. All that fuel-sipping goodness is enough to achieve an astonishing 0.9L/100 km – just over 260 mpg.

Germany will reportedly get first crack at the XL1, followed by the United States and China. Color us surprised that VW actually plans to produce a machine this efficient, going to the trouble of putting it through safety and emissions tests and all that goes along with making it legal, for such a small batch of vehicles. Surprised, but pleased.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      In the past I have stated that CARB and other government misregulators are pretty much irrelevant because competition in the market does a much more efficient job of providing clean and efficient vehicles without the risk of driving the wrong behavior. but if you can market cars this efficient it allows you to market more high performance ICE cars without penalty from the misguided regulators. That is a very good example of driving the wrong behavior. The regulators always end up screwing up more than they fix.
        • 4 Years Ago
        In my country, the UK, unregulated industry did a pretty good job over 150 years or so of screwing up our water systems and turning our rivers into open sewers.
        Since the 1950's regulation and legislation has turned this around, and we can once more enjoy our heritage.
        The notion that a society can survive without regulation and that industry on it's own will produce a favourable outcome just does not work, any more than the notion that efficient market theory gave that the banks could be progressively deregulated and left to self regulation worked.
        The result was financial disaster, which we are still suffering the consequences of.
        In industry it is wholly right and appropriate that the limitations should be set by the Government.
        The ideas that you are espousing have been proven not to work.
        • 4 Years Ago

        I respect your opinion, but you must understand that banks were not deregulated in the United States so they could pursue free market activities. It was the exact opposite. Banks in the United States were considered to be discriminatory institutions that mistreated lower income individuals and minorities. The government created a long list of "public goods" that banks were required to perform by law, and the harder the government pushed for these "public goods", the more controls they had to remove from the banking industry.

        Banks were lending extraordinary volumes of money at below market interest rates to unqualified borrowers. That's not how free market banking works. In fact, if you look at 150 years of banking before the CRA program, you'll see that people hated banks b/c they lent low volume at high interest rates to only the wealthiest citizens. The people forced banks to change. Now we blame banks for lending too much money at unrealistically low rates with no regard for proper debt to income ratio. Classic. The destabilization of our financial sector was government directed. Why? b/c loose credit expands the money supply which equals $,$$$,$$$,$$$,$$$. No one in our government (neither R nor D) has any vested interest in telling you that Washington drove our financial sector off of a cliff b/c if you believed that, you wouldn't let them control banking anymore.

        I'm not advocating complete deregulation b/c bridge troll lending practices stunt economic growth, but it would be nice if Washington would undo a lot of the ridiculous lending rules they have written in the past 30 years. This will never happen b/c people are petrified of "deregulating" their own bad regulations. Instead, they pile more regulations on banks. The new regulations force banks not to obey the bad regulations from 30 years ago. The US is a highly advanced society or maybe mob voters are running the country and we have absolutely no leadership whatsoever in DC.

        Anyway, I don't necessarily agree with harlanx b/c government pollution controls performed the vital task of removing lead from gasoline and most particulate matter from our tail pipes; however, he is correct in regards to our CAFE standards and GHG laws. They typically lag behind market forces, and they are needlessly clumsy programs that increase costs for businesses and consumers.
        • 4 Years Ago
        We are different, David. Most of our ancestors came over here because it got too hot for them in Europe. The same can be said for Australians, however Canadians are more like Europeans but we like them anyway.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Business needs to be regulated. I am just arguing that when they regulate something they usually screw something else up. I don't have much faith in bureaucrats. Reasonable regulation to control exhaust pollution is needed, but fuel mileage will take care of itself. Allowing dumping in waterways is illegal.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I agree with you both. What I hate is the corruption that goes with designing government regulation and it's selective enforcement. Also we don't have much luck discarding obsolete regulation and it's attached bureaucracies. We need to be critical of government and it is our duty as citizens to be informed.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You certainly won't get an argument out of me that Government usually screws up it's job, but regulation is a job worth doing, however poorly the practise has been.
        Perhaps it is worth noting too that much of the debate in the US really does not play at all this side of the pond, and notions of, what to us, are extreme reductions of the State's role are so far out of the picture as not to be part of the political debate.
        There is no Bible belt in Europe, and many of the assumptions which are in important respects dependent on that for their political pull in the US just do not play at all here.
        Whether this is right or wrong, it is important to realise just how different to the dialogue in the rest of the world that in the US is.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Hi mylexicon:
        Discussing the origins and consequences of the financial crisis of 2007 would take us far beyond the remit of this blog.
        I had intended that as simply an example of the necessity of regulation, although of course no-one wants over-regulation stifling action.
        However, the main point is simply illustrative, and your choice of the elimination of lead in petrol serves as well or better to show the point.
        The costs of lead in petrol in mental retardation of children exposed to it was an external cost, which the oil and car industries imposed on the rest of society until it was stopped by legislation.
        That is the job of Government, to impose appropriate regulation whilst not stifling industry, and whilst opinions may differ about the effectiveness of some measures, it seems to me that the principle that regulation is needed is beyond reasonable doubt.
      • 4 Years Ago

      Look . . . we are all impressed by your great high MPG figure . . . but that is not exactly a car you are going to take on a long road trip. Create a pure EV version . . . those those awesome aerodynamics and light weight, you should be able to get a great range with a battery that isn't very big. Build the damn EV . . . in case you haven't noticed, that is a hip thing these days, VW.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I agree there should be a battery drive version but I see no reason you couldn't take it on long trips. I trust there is some luggage space in it. seems quite ideal for long trips in fact although of course no more than 2 people.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Think of this as a tentative first step for VW. If the initial run of X1 PHEVs do well enough, they'll ramp up production and even consider a pure EV version. But if it doesn't do well for some reason, VW will probably wait for better or cheaper batteries before trying again.

        The fuel economy is impressive, so I hope it succeeds, and inspire their competition to try harder.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I agree that in the world of plug-in hybrids it is pretty difficult to determine what is a fair way of stating the mileage, but take a look for comparison at the other diesel-electric plug-in hybrid that is coming, the Peugeot 3008:

        Now this immensely practical crossover vehicle is aiming for 100km/2litres, or US around 117mpg, whatever that means in terms of how much of it is expected to be on electric.
        And for that you get 4/5seats, and room for the dog in the back.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Why do a BEV version if the diesel hybrid version gets 260MPG? What's the added benefit?It's the same misconception that lies at the basis at the Aptera for instance. Cars that sacrifice most of their practical usefulness for the sake of fuel economy don't need electric drivetrains. They are more economical with ICE technology. Mind you, the 260MPG figure is meaningless if this is actually a PHEV like Mylexicon suggests.
        • 4 Years Ago
        They need to make a non-PHEV version so we can see what is actually possible from a diesel-electric hybrid. The car is cool, but it's lame that they have realized 1L/100km by making it a plug-in. The 1L project was not about achieving 1L/100km from a PHEV.

        I would have preferred the 150mpg 1+1 concept L1 that they displayed a few years ago. It's less practical, but its small frontal area allows for efficient highway cruising, and it's narrowness means that HOV lanes or other high-efficiency lanes can actually carry twice the traffic. Roads in general could carry more traffic if more vehicles were 1+1.

        I'm excited VW are making the XL1, but the more I see how many compromises have been made, the less cool the car is becoming. If it's just an extreme PHEV, why is it special? Other companies already have EVs and PHEVs. It would have been something remarkable if they had stuck to the original game plan. There are no other vehicles like the L1 concept.
      • 4 Years Ago
      please.. VW also said the 1L would be for sale by 2010. they lie. it's what they do.
      how gullible can you be.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I should add that I like a lot about the car and hope they do indeed make it if only a dishonest few as it will raise awareness of what is easily possible.
      • 4 Years Ago
      No thank You!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      So officially a hybrid, eh.
      I was hoping this would be a gas car that common folk could afford.:/
      Sounds like more of a CAFE play like everyone else's green halo car.

      Well, if i had to blow some money on a green car, this may be the one. Reminds me enough of the original Insight to fall in love. Let's hope that they don't gouge for it.

      As for the 260mpg number, remember that Chevrolet also touted "230mpge" at one time. The MPG number here says nothing about the car's efficiency. We'll have to wait and see.
        • 4 Years Ago
        This isn't MPGe, it's actual mpg.

        Here is a bit more detail, 1 liters on 100 km(235 US MPG)@ 100 km/hr( 62 mph), Full throttle 160 km/hr(100 mph) 3 liters on 100 km(78 US MPG). 10 liters tank,(2.6 gallon) and 35 km(21 mile) range electricity only. The electric mileage is not included in the overall MPG claim.

      • 4 Years Ago
      I sure hope that this too will change. Historically accurate I agree the Oil companies have used their enormous wealth to purchase pattens and prevent the realization of alternative fuel vehicles. We must innovate away form our dependence on foreign oil, and get clean while we can still breath. I believe if we take hydrogen fuel cell technology, electric motors, incorporate passive pinwheel generators, large horizontal flywheels, in the floor of the boot (trunk), breaking systems that capture the energy and solar collectors on the exterior surfaces. Maybe revive the stem engine, we can turn away for the gas pump and revive this failing economy. Come on my fellow Americans lets show the world that we can still rock on!
        • 2 Years Ago
        According to your post we have already innovated away from fossil fuels. Thank the innovators that sold their alternative plans to the companies that want to sit on them instead of putting these plans to use for the world. Funny how the media doesn't report on the existence these plans or sales, or why these plans were sold. Money of course. It's very easy to find out which celebrities are getting divorced, arrested or what underwear they're wearing today, but see if they tell us why our world is so f'd up.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Recently the United States EPA developed a mileage sticker for the window of GM’s 2011 Chevrolet Volt, an electric vehicle with an auxiliary gasoline engine. In gasoline mode the EPA mileage for the Volt on the mileage sticker is a not too impressive 37 mpg. The Volt can be driven up to 35 miles in electric-only mode, consuming 12.6 kW-h of electrical energy stored in its high-tech, lithium-ion battery pack. This amounts to 0.36 kW-h of battery energy per mile. According to the EPA, a gallon of gasoline has the energy equivalent to 33.7 kW-h of electrical energy, voilá, the EPA claims that the Volt in electric-only mode gets the equivalent of 93 mpg of gasoline. This is the mileage that EPA puts on the mileage sticker for the Volt in all-electric mode. The EPA knowingly misleads the public about the mileage of the Volt in all-electric mode because the EPA is obviously aware of the fact that, in the process of generating electric energy in an electric power plant, burning the equivalent of one gallon of liquid fossil fuel produces only about 13 kW-h of electrical energy (an efficiency of only 40%). Consequently, in reality, the mileage sticker for the Volt in all-electric mode should read about 37 mpg, not 93 mpg. In addition to EPA’s Lisa Jackson, Steven Chu of the Energy Department, the Obama administration and GM are complicit in this fraudulent attempt to mislead the public into purchasing a product when they all know that the published mileage on the mileage sticker for the Volt in all-electric mode is grossly and intentionally overestimated and is obviously in error. Eric Holder or any lawyer with half a brain should know that this is fraud.
      It should be mentioned that there currently are several more capable autos on the market that give much higher mileage and are considerably lower in cost than the $41,000 Chevrolet Volt. For instance, owners of the $25,000 Toyota Prius hybrid consistently report that the Prius gets more than 45 miles per gallon of gasoline.

      With respect to the Volkswagen XL1 plug-in diesel hybrid the 260 mpg mileage number is also likely to be fraudulent. As a gallon of liquid fossil fuel (gasoline or diesel) can provide only about 13 kW-h of useful electrical energy, driving the XL1 one mile in EV mode would consume only 0.05 kW-h of battery energy based on 260 mpg. This is totally unbelievable. Most likely, VW considered electrical energy to be free of fossil-fuel cost, consequently, driving the XL1 15% of the time in diesel mode and 85% of the time in EV mode and using fuzzy math gave a mileage number of 260.
      • 4 Years Ago
      @Chris M
      It wasn't a law, it was policy.

      Why would the banks be upset? Banks make the loan; keep the origination fees and other misc. profits; package it; and sell it off to the Goldman Sacks, Bear Stearns, and others that do - the further repackaging as derivatives and such. Most backed and guaranteed by the FHA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac.

      No body could give a shiit who got a loan. How can we lose?

      If you don't think our "system" is messed-up, watch this:
      • 4 Years Ago
      mylexicon, the CRA program has been around since 1977 and somehow didn't destroy the economy for 30 years? Sure.

      Banks were never required to make bad loans, which is what you're suggesting. The federal government during the 2000s just gave the industry enough rope to hang itself, and hang itself it did. The housing market boomed, and the banks began lending indiscriminately and laying off bad mortgages in securities bundles.

      Both regulation and deregulation are sensible if someone is watching over the results for unintended consequences. Unfortunately, Congress largely regards legislation as a "fire-and-forget" weapon.

      But I agree that anti-pollution regulations in particular have created major improvements in modern quality of life. And if people only knew how coal mines and such STILL run, we'd have a push to get off coal entirely within 10 years.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Chris, you don't understand how the mortgage market works.

        Companies don't make bad loans so they can repossess homes with rising value. Those are absurd accusations.

        What happened is that companies like Countrywide made sub-prime loans outside of the CRA program b/c loan volume was so high that they could make a killing on upfront, percentage-based origination fees. Under normal circumstances, it be a losing strategy b/c the company could never sell sub-prime toxic assets on the secondary market. The CRA meltdown was not a set of normal circumstances. Risky loans were bundled with government secured loans and given a AAA rating by bond companies who were carrying water for the US government (pump). Those bundled assets were sold around the world to investors using all manner of investment tools including hedges like credit-default swaps (dump).

        Countrywide can't exist unless the government is securing 50% of all US mortgages. Countrywide can't exist without credit default swaps. The conditions for the perfect storm were created by government regulators who operated under the assumption that banks have to be forced to lend money.

        The market place has been gutted, and besides some slippery executives, the 1 billion investors, customers, home buyers, etc who participated in this immoral game have all been impoverished. What has happened to the government regulators who thought that it was a good idea to guarantee 50% of all loans? Where are Gramm, Sarbanes, Shelby, and Dodd? Where are Jackson, Martinez, Cuomo, and Cisneros?

        If you know anything about senate baking or HUD, you'll realize those two groups are 50/50. There is no right-wing conspiracy. Only regulators and government officials who drive us off a cliff out of ignorance. It is not an uncommon occurrence. Stagflation and the abuse of the Philip's Curve is perhaps my favorite. This ranks pretty high on the list though b/c the CRA is a legacy of stagflation.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Tysto, with respect, I not sure you have a grasp of what's going on. Obviously, CRA has been changed immensely since 1977. Furthermore, CRA was created b/c the government caused stagflation with bad energy policy and bad monetary policy less than 1 decade after canceling Bretton Woods (gold standard). Sub-prime, government insured mortgages were designed to repair the damage done to lower-middle class individuals as a result of double digit interest rates. When interest rates stabilized, was CRA repealed? :D I'd be crying if it weren't such a hilarious question. No, CRA was not repealed. It was pedal to the metal time under Clinton, and then when Bush came along, Congress was too busy with the war, and they eliminated or let some regulations expire. That's when things really went bonkers circa 2004--the peak of the madness, and the beginning of the end.

        As I mentioned to David, it would be most unwise to believe that bankers are dying to give jumbo loans at microscopic interest rates to underqualified borrowers. That's only possible if the US government is guaranteeing the loans. When the US government decides to guarantee 50% of all mortgages in the US (keep in mind CRA was supposed to be for poor people) what do you suppose happens? I suppose the question is rhetorical. We know what happens. Global credit meltdown.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You're simply repeating the right-wing talking point fiction that tries to shift the blame from careless and greedy bankers onto the Democrats. The law you are referring to prohibited lending discrimination on the basis of race or the ethnicity of a neighborhood - but it specifically allowed banks to take income and credit-worthiness into account, and actually requested that the banks make their loans in a fiscally prudent manner.

        So why did the banks make so many bad "sub-prime" loans? Because as long as real estate prices kept rising, it was highly profitable. Banks could charge higher interest on those sub-primes, and even if the loan defaulted, the real estate would be worth more than the original loan value. Sub-prime borrowers were also counting on rising real-estate prices to make money - buy low, sell high, and there were lots of "get rich quick in real-estate" promotions pushing that very idea. Of course, when prices actually did start falling, that triggered a sell-off, which triggered a full-scale panic, which triggered massive defaults on those sub-prime loans.

        Some banks didn't need a bailout because they had higher lending standards and didn't get into those risky sub-prime loans - something they couldn't have avoided if there had been a law "forcing them to make bad loans".
        • 4 Years Ago
        Of course they don't make bad loans just to reposess! As I said "As long as real estate prices kept rising, it was highly profitable. Banks could charge higher interest on those sub-primes, and even if the loan defaulted, the real estate would be worth more than the original loan value." The real profit was in higher interest rates, but they were counting on rising real estate values to assure that they wouldn't loose money if they did have to foreclose.

        Sure, some loan originators sold those mortgages off to others, but somebody was holding the mortgages and collecting the payments - and it wasn't the government.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Hit add too early.

        We already know what free market banking looks like. A small club of people control all of the loanable funds and they refuse to lend on reasonable terms to anyone who isn't already independently wealthy. The lower class and middle class get left behind, industry stalls and sputters. This is why the government thought that it was good to guarantee 50% of all US mortgages. Lesson learned? Not judging by the comments on ABG or the political climate in Washington DC.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Correction: This car does not have that station wagon look to it but I do hate that tire being covered.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Honestly, I get sick of these concept cars. They always look great and make great claims (like this one does), but they are never put in production.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Great technological accomplishment! Now if they could place this drive train into their 'first generation', tandem seating L1, they would have a 'narrow', bio-diesel, COMMUTER. If they could keep the price below $20,000; they could launch another 'Beetle Revolution'.
      It would meet 80% of my driving needs, and most in EV mode, if they can get 35-50 mile EV range.
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