Ferdinand Piech drives the XL1 at the annual meeting of the Vw Group

Article by Christian A., on April 24, 2012

At the recent annual meeting of the Volkswagen Group board, Chairman Ferdinand Piech rolled up in the XL1, his latest one-liter car pet project. Actually, Piech did the same thing a decade ago but back then, he had done it with the L1 concept car. Piece had driven from Wolfsburg to the board meeting for almost 100 miles to Hamburg, Germany.

Ursula, Piech’s wife and supervisory board member, also attended the meeting together with David McAllister, the Minister President of the German state of Lower Saxony.

Powering the two XL1 cars is a plug-in hybrid system that features a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and a 48-hp, two-cylinder diesel engine mated to an electric motor, which delivers an extra 27 hp and 74 lb-ft of torque.

When using the electric motor alone, the X1 can be driven for up to 22 miles. Furthermore, the XL1 has a weight of only 1753 pounds due to the generous use of carbon fiber.

The XL1 isn’t very fast but it offers precise steering and a sufficient amount of power when driven on normal roads. Volkswagen asserts that going from zero to 62mph takes 11.9 seconds. This car comes with amazing agility due to its slippery aerodynamics, direct steering, and its low weight due to the carbon fiber-reinforced polymer construction.

When the diesel engine is under heavy throttle, it kicks on loudly. That’s because sound deadening adds a lot to the weight and so the XL1 doesn’t have it.

Volkswagen hasn’t changed its initial plan for a limited run of XL1s to be on sale by 2013. But then, it’s possible the two-cylinder diesel may not carry over into production. Rather, it’s possible that it would be equipped with a direct-injected, turbocharged gasoline two-cylinder.


The Volkswagen XL1 marks the third evolutionary phase when it comes to the strategy of the brand in creating 1 liter models. Prof. Dr. Ferdinand Piëch, Volkswagen AG’s Chairman of the Supervisory Board, was the one who came up with this visionary goal as the new millennium was just starting. The goal was to make a production car that would offer a practical daily drive with estimated fuel consumption of 1 liter for every 100 km.

With the two-seater XL1, Volkswagen has finally managed to make this vision come true. It appears that not only did the brand make the plan a reality but more than guaranteed that the XL1, with fuel economy of 0.9 1/100 km, is set to be the world’s most fuel efficient production vehicle. Clearly no other production vehicle has managed to get such excellent figures and this shows without a doubt that Volkswagen has managed to redefine what the auto industry can offer.

This is all due to the plug-in hybrid system which ensures the XL1 could go as far as 50 km running purely on electricity and thus have no emissions. Overall CO2 emissions though have been measured to be 21 g/km. This is due to a combination of excellent aerodynamics, an advanced lightweight design, and of course, the plug-in hybrid system. The hybrid system is composed of the two-cylinder TD engine with output at 35 kW (48 PS), E-motor having output of 20 kW (27 PS), and lithium-ion battery.

All of the power generated is then channeled to the wheels through the dual clutch 7-speed gearbox. Through this, the XL1 can go from 0 to 100 km/h in 12.7 seconds with maximum speed of 160 km/h. The main reason why Volkswagen was able to achieve this for the XL1 is that the brand made full use of the design principles of pure sports cars.

Aerodynamic figures are excellent with Cd of 0.189. A major factor that helped is its low weight of 795 kg. Additionally, center of gravity is low with a height of 1,153 mm. Because of this, the XL1 is able to run at a constant speed of 100 km/h even with an output of 6.2 kW (8.4 PS). In fact, when running in all-electric mode, this latest offering from Volkswagen can reach 1 km in under 0.1 kWh.

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Topics: vw, vw xl1, green car



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