Volkswagen joins plug-in hybrid market with XL1

Article by Anita Panait, on March 19, 2013

Volkswagen Group is joining the fray for customers in the plug-in hybrid market with its Volkswagen XL1, which it touts as the most fuel-efficient production car in the world. It took Volkswagen Group much longer than its rivals to offer electrified vehicles. But now, the German carmaker is planning to roll out a series of plug-in hybrids that would be pitted against the Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrid, Chevrolet Volt and Ford C-Max Energi.

According to VW, the two-seat XL1 coupe is powered by a diesel plug-in hybrid powertrain that returns 261 mpg by European standards. The United Stated EPA has not rated the XL1's fuel economy. Designed as a technological showpiece, the VW XL1 will be initially available in only 250 units and will only be initially sold in Germany and Austria.

Jonathan Browning, chief executive of Volkswagen Group of America, told Automotive News that he will request a handful of XL1s for the US, "even if it's just on the basis of a test fleet."

Volkswagen Group chief Martin Winterkorn said during the unveiling of the XL1 before the Geneva Auto Show that the vehicle is underpinned by a platform that will also be used to underpin a series of plug-ins that will be launched in the next few years. Winterkorn said that the “technology spearhead” is not going to benefit just a few, but everyone.

First to arrive are models like the e-Golf, an electric vehicle that will be available in the US showrooms in 2014 to comply with a California zero-emission vehicle mandate, and the Audi A3 e-tron, a plug-in hybrid to be rolled out in Europe next year. Next to follow will be a Golf plug-in hybrid that might be produced at the carmaker’s Puebla plant in Mexico.

The same assembly line will also be able to build Golfs with six powertrains -- gasoline, diesel, compressed natural gas, electric, plug-in hybrid and ethanol. Ulrich Hackenberg, the Volkswagen AG board member for product development, remarked that the approach will allow the carmaker to more easily adjust to customer demand and government rules.

As the new millennial era was ushered in, it brought about new innovations in lifestyle technology, as well as a demand for highly-efficient vehicles or methods of transportation that are reliable as they are practical. In lieu of this, Professor Ferdinand Piëch, chairman of the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG, formulated the visionary goal of bringing to market a production car that will suit the practical needs of customers, as well as satisfy the ever-growing demands of the global market.

Volkswagen then introduces its latest and most advance hybrid car yet, the Volkswagen XL1—or VW XL1—deemed as the most fuel-efficient car in the world. As a hybrid, this automotive hero has a fuel consumption value of 0.9 L/km, and can cover up to 50 kilometers on all-electric mode. This record-figure fuel consumption value has not been achieved by any other vehicle up to date, thus emphasizing how Volkswagen is redefining what is technically feasible in car-making. The car’s all-electric mode also enables it to have zero harmful gas emissions, making the VW XL1 a truly environment-friendly vehicle.

Vehicle Specifications

The Volkswagen XL1 was designed to follow pure sports car design principles: low weight (795 kg), perfect aerodynamics (Cd 0.189) and a low centre of gravity (1,153 mm high). This gives the efficient Volkswagen the ability to cruise on the road at a constant speed of 100 km/h using a mere 6.2 kW or 8.4 PS of power. In all-electric mode, the VW XL1 requires less than 0.1 kWh to cover a driving distance of over one kilometer.

High-tech lightweight design, perfect aerodynamics and a plug-in hybrid system—consisting of a two-cylinder TDI engine (35 kW / 48 PS), E-motor (20 kW / 27 PS), 7-speed dual clutch gearbox (DSG) and lithium-ion battery—all make it possible for the new Volkswagen XL1 to emit just 21 g/km of atmospherically harmful and environmentally polluting carbon dioxide. If necessary, the XL1, with a top speed of 160 km/h, can accelerate to 100 km/h in just 12.7 seconds, enabling the Volkswagen XL1 to be not only an Earth-loving hybrid, but a fast one as well to satisfy that need for speed in every driver. This makes it truly a state-of-the-art innovation from Volkswagen.

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