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Volkswagen XL1 achieves 261 mpg (pictures)

At the Geneva auto show, Volkswagen announced success in building a car that only burns 0.9 liter per 100 kilometers, or 261 mpg. The XL1 is the result of years of work in developing a 1-liter car.

Wayne Cunningham
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
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GENEVA--For years, Volkswagen has worked on developing what it calls the 1-liter car, a vehicle that can travel 100 kilometers on a single liter of fuel. After a number of concepts, the company announces the XL1, more than achieving its goal fuel economy goal. The XL1 diesel plug-in hybrid only needs 0.9 liter of fuel to go 100 kilometers, which works out to 261 mpg.
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Lightweight materials helped Volkswagen meets its fuel economy goal. The XL1 uses carbon-reinforced polymers in its monocoque body, along with aluminum, to keep total weight down to 1,752 pounds. Of that weight, the body only accounts for 507 pounds.
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The design of the XL1 hearkens back to the original Honda Insight. A two-seater with covered rear wheels, the XL1's coefficient of drag is only 0.189. By comparison, the extremely aerodynamic Toyota Prius only boasts a 0.25 coefficient of drag.
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Along with its 47 horsepower two-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, the XL1 also features a 27 horsepower electric motor. This diesel hybrid drive system takes 12.7 seconds to get the XL1 to 62 mph. Top speed is limited to 100 mph.
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The engine and integrated electric motor mounts behind the cabin. Mated to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission, it drives the rear wheels. A 5.5-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery pack provides enough electricity to drive the XL1 as an electric vehicle for 31 miles. The battery pack can be recharged from the grid and the car's own regenerative braking. The entire drive system weighs 500 pounds.
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To help aerodynamic efficiency, the XL1 uses cameras instead of side mirrors. As cameras such as these have not been approved for use in the U.S., the XL1 will likely not be coming to America at this time.
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The doors for the two-seat cabin fold up, gullwing-style. As a safety measure, explosive bolts can release the doors in the event of a roll-over.
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Past concepts for the XL1 put the two seats in tandem, with the passenger seat behind the driver seat. For the production version, Volkswagen was able to stagger them side-by-side, with the driver seat slightly forward.
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LCDs in the doors show the side view from the cameras, and a center-mounted LCD shows infotainment functions.

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