Carmakers are going back to the drawing board as EVs are not quite popular

Article by Christian A., on March 12, 2013

It has become clearer that electric vehicles won’t be the ultimate solution for lowering CO2 emissions like once thought. That’s why automakers are once again putting their thinking caps on to come up with fuel-saving technologies. People are realizing that conventional hybrids and sluggish-selling battery cars won’t be sufficient to cope with the strict EU emissions limits.

Volkswagen had introduced the diesel-electric XL1, a low-riding two-seater that uses up less than a liter of fuel per 100 kilometers – at the 2013 Geneva auto show. Meanwhile, PSA/Peugeot Citroen had presented a compressed-air hybrid at the auto show too. Most automakers are on course to comply with the EU's interim goal of cutting the average CO2 output of vehicles to 130 grams per kilometer by 2015.

However, radical steps are required to meet the 95 gram target established for 2020 and the possibility of higher tougher standards after that. When interviewed, PSA innovation chief Jean-Marc Finot said that the company can’t reach past the gains that it needs with just traditional technology. According to Arthur Wheaton, automotive expert at Cornell University, the advancement in battery technology is unable to resolve the issues of too much weight and limitations in its range capability. In a survey last January, KPMG said that the optimism about the future of electric cars has diminished significantly even with the billions invested by companies like Renault-Nissan.

Toyota had debuted the Prius hybrid in 1997 but it has recently scrapped plans for a wider sale of the battery-powered eQ last September, saying that it had misinterpreted the demand. Due to high costs, Opel reduced plans to build a fully electric Adam subcompact, while Audi put on hold the electric R8 coupe and Nissan cut the price of its Leaf after poor sales. Francois Bancon, Nissan's upstream development chief, said that the demand for electric cars isn't where they expected it will be. Bancon added that the industry is “a bit lost” during this highly uncertain stage.

Within the new Volkswagen XL1 is a combination of perfect aerodynamics, advanced lightweight design, and plug-in hybrid system. This plug-in hybrid system is composed of the lithium-ion battery, E-motor capable of 20 kW (27 PS), TDI two-cylinder engine that can deliver 35 kW (48 PS), and the 7-speed DSG (dual clutch gearbox). With this system, the XL1 is able to achieve a maximum speed of 160 km/h with acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h possible in 12.7 seconds. Even with these figures, CO2 emissions is merely 21 g/km.

Fuel consumption is at 0.9 1/100 km, a figure never before achieved by any other models to date. However for Volkswagen, it simply shows that the brand is able to redefine what is technically feasible when it comes to manufacturing cars. Going back to the fuel consumption, the 0.9 1/100 km value means that there is no question that the XL1 can be considered as the production car that is the most fuel efficient in the world.

In addition, the hybrid system allows the XL1 to have a maximum total range of 50 km under all-electric mode. Without a doubt, this model is a true automotive hero and follows the design principles typically applied to pure sports cars.

That is, it has exceptional aerodynamics with a Cd at 0.189 and low weight measured at 795 kg. Further, center of gravity is considered low with height at 1,153 mm. What this means is that even with only 6.2 kW (8.4 PS), it can coast at a constant 100 km/h speed on the road. In addition, it needs not more than 0.1 kWh in order to travel for around 1 km.

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Topics: electric car

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