Design News, May 2013

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 20 of 110

Captain Hybrid VW to Build World's Most Fuel-Efficient Production Car The new VW XL1 achieves a startling fuel efficiency rating of 261 mpg. By CHARLES J. MURRAY, Senior Technical Editor VOLKSWAGEN AG is planning to roll out a production car that will combine a plug-in hybrid powertrain with low weight and an aerodynamic shape to reportedly achieve a fuel efficiency rating of 261 miles per gallon (mpg). Although the mileage numbers will almost certainly drop when a US EPA rating is applied, the XL1, as it's known, will likely be the most fuel-efficient production car in the world. Today's best vehicles typically have mpg-equivalencies that are less than half that of the proposed VW. "This vehicle combines every possible way of improving fuel efficiency," Volkswagen spokesman Mark Gillies told Design News. "It uses aerodynamics, low-rolling resistance, low weight, and a plug-in hybrid powertrain." The company's engineers incorporated virtually every available fuel efficiency feature. The new vehicle supplies just enough power to make itself roadworthy, while incorporating enough low-mass components to keep its energy needs low. A 47-HP turbo-diesel engine sips fuel, while a 27-HP electric motor gives it a enough pop to hit a top speed of 99 mph. At 1,753 pounds, the XL1 is less than half of the Chevy Volt's 3,781 pounds, thanks to liberal use of lightweight materials. Approximately 20 percent of the vehicle employs carbon fiberreinforced plastic, including the monocoque, body panels, anti-roll bars, and numerous other parts. The brakes also use carbon fiber ceramics, while the engine crankcase, steering gear housing, dampers, and other suspension components are made from aluminum. VW's new vehicle may also offer the lowest drag coefficient in production car history. At 0.189, it's lower than the Toyota Prius (0.25), Tesla Model S (0.24), Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class (0.23), and General Motors' EV1 (0.195) (Cd numbers courtesy of Wikipedia). It accomplishes that with a tadpole-like shape that's wider at the front than the rear. The real test of the vehicle's efficiency, however, may lie in its all-electric performance. Using a 5.5-kWh watercooled, lithium-ion battery, the XL1 can travel 32 all-electric miles, meaning it gets close to six miles to the kilowatthour. That's almost twice that of the Volt or Leaf. All of the fuel efficiency ratings will be up for debate, of course, as the vehicle's limited rollout nears. The XL1's 261-mpg figures are based on European Commission methodology, which calls for the vehicle to travel 100 km, using its all-electric mode, followed by a diesel fuel mode. US EPA test cycles, however, are notoriously tougher. Volkswagen isn't talking price yet, but is saying that production will be light and will start soon. The German automaker is already retooling a plant in Osnabruch, Germany, to build the XL1 in "a limited production run." "What we can say is that it's going to be in peoples' hands fairly soon," Gillies told us. DN Design News | MAY 2013 | w w w. d e s i g n n e w s . c o m –18– magenta cyan yellow black ES246208_DN1305_018.pgs 05.03.2013 22:05 UBM

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of DesignNews - Design News, May 2013