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Formula XL1 can travel up to 22 miles on battery power alone

We don't usually think of the Qatar Motor Show as a place where major automotive product announcements/advances are made, but Volkswagen used the show to unveil the latest in its line of vehicles aimed at extracting the ultimate mileage out of a single gallon of gasoline.

The German company today announced its Formula XL1 concept car that makes use of a two-cylinder turbodiesel engine, hybrid electric motor (with a lithium-ion battery pack), and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The Formula XL1 has enough juice from its lithium-ion pack to travel for 22 miles on battery power alone, and gets a total combined fuel efficiency rating of 260 mpg.

When the subject of gasoline electric hybrids is brought up on DailyTech, there quite often is chatter from our European readers stating that they have been getting similar -- if not better -- mileage from turbodiesel engines for years in similar vehicle types. So it's nice to see that VW is taking the best of both worlds with this new vehicle concept. 

And it's not just the turbodiesel-electric hybrid powertrain that gives the Formula XL1 its impressive fuel economy; the vehicle also makes use of lightweight carbon fiber reinforced polymers for the body panels to further reduce weight. The driver and passenger also sit in a tandem arrangement -- the passenger sits slightly aft of the driver and behind the driver's seat (think McLaren F1) -- which allows the Formula XL1's body to cut through the wind more efficiently, which also improves overall fuel efficieny. 

There is no word if or when such a vehicle will be put into production, but we're sure that there are more than a few hypermilers here in the United States that wouldn't mind getting their hands on one.

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An amazing concept: How to interpret it for YOU
By Emma on 1/25/2011 6:07:55 PM , Rating: 3
According to the VW press release
it goes 22 miles on electrics alone, and if you were to empty the tank, you'd get an avergage of 130mpg. So if you do long drives, that's what you can expect. If you drive mostly short trips, you can expect to hardly use any diesel at all.

Either way, it is a very interesting development of the L1. The whole drivetrain is a masterpiece:

The E-motor supports the TDI in acceleration (boosting), but as described it can also power the XL1 prototype on its own for a distance of up to 35 km. In this mode, the TDI is decoupled from the drivetrain by disengaging a clutch, and it is shut down. Meanwhile, the clutch on the gearbox side remains closed, so the DSG is fully engaged with the electric motor. Important: The driver can choose to drive the XL1 in pure electric mode (provided that the battery is sufficiently charged). As soon as the electric mode button on the instrument panel is pressed, the car is propelled exclusively by electrical power.

The use of CFRP, ceramic brakes, magnesium, polycarbonate combined with ABS and ESP means this is a very safe vehicle.

By Philippine Mango on 1/25/2011 8:43:47 PM , Rating: 2
130mpg isn't that special if you consider that the Aptera 2h is suppose to get the same fuel economy but on gasoline instead.

By Solandri on 1/26/2011 12:32:44 AM , Rating: 4
130 mpg is even less impressive if you compare fuel consumption instead of mileage. Say you have a 50 mile round trip daily commute. How many gallons per day would you burn in the following vehicles?

15 MPG SUV = 3.33 gallons
25 MPG sedan = 2 gallons
50 MPG Prius = 1 gallon
130 MPG VW = 0.38 gallons

So switching from a sedan to a Prius ("only" a 25 MPG improvement) saves you 1 gallon per day. But switching from the Prius to the VW (a "whopping" 80 MPG improvement) only saves you 0.62 gallons per day.

Or to think of it another way, if you drive an SUV now and are considering switching to a Prius or this VW, the difference in fuel savings is only 2.33 vs. 2.95 gallons per day. Only a 27% difference, even though the difference in MPG makes it seem like a 260% difference. Using MPG exaggerates the actual savings you get from high mileage vehicles, and auto manufacturer marketers and environmental groups are having a field day exploiting it to make us want to buy stuff which really doesn't help us that much.

The rest of the world measures fuel economy in liters per 100 km for this reason (it's the mathematical equivalent of 1/MPG). Only the U.S. relies primarily on mileage. Mileage is great if you're given a fuel budget and need to try to figure out how far you can go with it. e.g. You're given 10 gallons a week and need to stretch it as far as you can.

But most people don't drive like that. They drive a fixed number of miles per week, and are only concerned with how much fuel it will take to do that. For that type of driving, fuel consumption, or 1/MPG is the figure you want to be comparing.

By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 1/26/2011 8:03:56 AM , Rating: 2
21 MPG is the average mileage for a sedan in the US.

RE: An amazing concept: How to interpret it for YOU
By Wererat on 1/26/2011 8:30:28 AM , Rating: 2
Another way to interpret those figures is based on $3.10/gal gas and monthly (20 days/month) work-only commute costs:

SUV: $206.46
Sedan: $124.00
Prius: $62.00
1l VW: $23.56

"only" 2 gallons per day adds up, and these figures don't include any other driving.

RE: An amazing concept: How to interpret it for YOU
By Parhel on 1/26/2011 9:37:00 AM , Rating: 2
Diesel brings the the VW up to $26.22. And, that number assumes you started with a fully charged battery and then drove until the tank was empty. Electricity isn't free, so I'm not sure there's much if any savings there compared to the Prius.

RE: An amazing concept: How to interpret it for YOU
By bug77 on 1/26/2011 10:04:01 AM , Rating: 2
There's also the initial cost problem.

If I pay 25k toady for a car that needs zero fuel and you pay 20k for a regular car and 1k/year for fuel, after 5 years you still get the better deal.
I know, I've simplified the problem, but you get the idea.

By Wererat on 1/26/2011 4:18:43 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed on both counts; the $/gallon should use diesel fuel costs (currently $2.99 vs. $3.09 gasoline where I am, but this varies), and the per-month savings needs to be weighed against the initial cost and length of ownership. That's true whether you're buying a car or a water heater.

By Just Tom on 1/26/2011 10:20:41 AM , Rating: 2
Great post but it is not difficult to translate MpG to how much gas you will use is really easy. If I get 20 MpG and drive 350 miles per week I simply divide 350/20. How difficult is that?

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