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Special Drive: Volkswagen XL1 Concept by Henny Hemmes +VIDEO

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Volkswagen XL1

Volkswagen's commitment to electric mobility

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

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Volkswagen XL1
LOS ANGELES - December 31, 2013: By concentrating on different forms of drive and flexible production, the Volkswagen Group will be able to anticipate future developments in sustainable mobility. The short test drive with the XL1 underlined the car manufacturer’s commitment, contained in the ‘bumper-to-bumper’ strategy.

During the recent Los Angeles Auto Show, I was invited to drive a couple of laps with the XL1 on the huge parking lot of Hollywood Park horse racing track in Inglewood, just south of LA. The XL1 is the world’s most fuel efficient car and showcases a futuristic aerodynamic design combined with stunning fuel efficiency. In the European cycle, the sleek car has a consumption of 260 mpg (US), with 21 g/km CO2, and a range of 31 miles in all-electric mode. My drive was less intended as a test, but just to get the feeling of the XL1’s drivability and to show technology that will make its way into mass production in the near future.

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Henny Hemmes slides into
the Volkswagen XL1

In 2002, when the Germans first introduced their so-called 1-liter car, it was designed to travel 100 km (62 miles) on 1 liter of fuel (240 mpg U.S.). Seven years later the concept car was changed and called L1, and two years ago it became the XL1. Last summer, Volkswagen started to build a limited series of 250 units to be sold in Europe at a price of about $145,000.

After swinging the gull-wing door upwards and stepping inside, I was not surprised by an unusual cabin. The dashboard of the XL looks quite simple, more like what you would expect of a daily driver. With the exception of the monitor on which the small cameras at both doors project what you would usually see in rear view mirrors.

The flat-bottom steering wheel makes in-and-out egress into the low car easier and it looks sporty, too. The seating position is low, but I do not mind that at all, while the two-seater offers ample leg room.

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Cut-way of the Volkswagen XL1

When pushing the start button, you hear nothing, but the electric motor brings the IP to life and after shifting the handle of the 7-speed double clutch transmission into D, off we can go! First we drive a couple of laps all-electric and steer the XL1 through the pylons that are set up for a short slalom. The car is easy to handle and quite fun really. Then we push it more, the 800 cc two-cylinder engine kicks in a with typical diesel sound. But when warmed up, and thanks to a balance shaft, the halved 1.6 TDI engine runs smoothly in the back of the car. The XL1 feels light too. No surprise, since its body is made of CFRP (carbon fiber reinforced plastic) and the weight of the car is only 1,750 pounds. Wind noise is absent, thanks to the aerodynamics resulting in a low Cd-value of 0,19. Even though the XL1 is built in a limited series, it indeed gives an indication of what we can expect of the Volkswagen Group in the near future.

The package of plans was also presented in Los Angeles during a sustainability workshop, led by dr. Rudolf Krebs, VW Group’s commissioner for electric drive systems.

Key aspects: the Group wants to be the leader in e-mobility in 2018 and is planning to electrify models in all segments, up to some 40. In 2014, the brands of the group will offer a total of 14 such models, from hybrid electric, battery electric, or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to those with very clean internal combustion engines, including CNG. Please stay tuned for the report on Volkswagen’s ‘bumper-to-bumper’- strategy.

XL1 Specifications

Drive system Plug-in diesel hybrid, rear-wheel drive

Engine 2-cylinder TDI Clean Diesel

Capacity 830 cc

Power 36 kW/48 hp

Torque 89 lb-ft

Electric motor 27 hp, 103 lb-ft

System output 68 hp, 103 lb-ft

Transmission 7-speed DSG automatic

Battery lithium ion, 5.5 kWh

Weight 1,753 lbs

Length x width x height 153.1 x 65.6 x 45.4 inches

Wheelbase 87.6 in

Max speed 100 mph (electronically limited)

0-62 mph 11.9 seconds

Fuel consumption (Eu cycle) 261 mpg

C02 emission 21 g/km

EV range 31 miles

Combined range plus 310 miles (2.64 gallon fuel tank)

Watch the XL1 at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show

Volkswagen XL1 wows the crowd at 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed