Car Tech Video: Volkswagen XL1
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Car Tech Video: Volkswagen XL1

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At the 2013 Geneva auto show, CNET's Wayne Cunningham gives us a look at the VW XL1, which looks like a concept car but is actually going to production. With its fuel-efficient motor, a unique seating arrangement, and some weight-saving materials, the XL1 could actually find some buyers.

-If a car could get 100 miles per gallon, that'd be pretty great. If it can get 200 miles per gallon, that'd be insane. Well, this car gets 261 miles per gallon. This is the Volkswagen XL1. And how did Volkswagen do it? Partly through aerodynamics, partly through lightweight, and partly through a very advanced plug-in hybrid powertrain. This car has a 2-cylinder turbo diesel engine, which makes 47 horsepower. It also has a 27 horsepower electric motor attached to that. And there's a 5.5 kilowatt hour lithium ion battery pack in this car. Okay, we've got a diesel plug-in hybrid powertrain and that helps this car achieve really excellent fuel economy. You can actually travel under electric power for about 30 miles. With those power figures, it looks like an XL1 obviously isn't a fast car. It actually takes 12.7 seconds to get to 62 miles an hour, but it does have a top speed of 100 miles an hour. Now, that's electronically limited, but you probably don't wanna go any faster in a car like this. But as far as aerodynamics go, this body style actually looks a lot like the Honda Insight. There's no real developmental cooperation there. It all comes down to aerodynamics. The shape of the Volkswagen XL1 and the original Honda Insight were both dictated by a need for the best aerodynamics possible. This thing achieves a .198 coefficient of drag and that's substantially less than the Toyota Prius. It's also incredibly lightweight. Volkswagen uses carbon fiber reinforced panels all over the car and for the chassis. There is also aluminum parts in here and a little bit of high-strength steel, but mostly it comes down to very lightweight materials. The overall weight of this car is around 1.800 pounds. Now, the engine, and the electric motor, and the battery pack are about 500 pounds of that. The body is another 500 pounds. None of the running gear and things add more weight to the whole mix, but it still achieves incredible fuel economy with all that. Instead of side view mirrors, it uses cameras mounted in the doors and the driver can actually look at the side view through these little panels in the doors. The interior is actually -- they fit 2 seats in here, although the passenger seat has staggered back a little bit. So, the hip room can be a little narrower. And finally, we have a 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission. This will get really good efficiency for that diesel hybrid powertrain. Now, this car is not actually a concept. Volkswagen is gonna produce it. It's been working on this concept of a 1-liter car for a long time. Now, that means 1 liter per 100 kilometers. They've achieved even better than that in this production XL1 at 0.9 liters per 100 kilometers and that equals 261 miles per gallon. I'm Wayne Cunningham here at the 2013 Geneva Auto Show.

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