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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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RE: Efficiency ratings...
By mars2k on 1/25/2011 6:08:18 PM , Rating: 3
Pretty car check out the original honda insight. The good news here is that is a VDub. I might be able to sit in it without folding myself in half.
I would like someone to explain having a diesel/electric combo and why that is more efficient. Is the combustion engine de-couple from the wheels here is it only driving a generator and keeping battercharged. Thereby keeping the engine running at its most efficient load and rpm. Now if we could get some organic solar cells painted on the surface to charge the battery during that 8 hr period waiting for me to geet off work and drive home.

RE: Efficiency ratings...
By Marlonsm on 1/25/2011 6:51:47 PM , Rating: 1
Usually hybrids have the combustion engine directly coupled to the wheels, having it to act just as a generator, IMO, wouldn't be much of an advancement, as there would be losses putting a generator, a battery and a motor in the way between the engine and the wheels. And that wouldn't be much better than the mechanical transmissions we have today.

What I really want to see are hybrids that use a turboshaft engine as generator, just like the ones in helicopters, but smaller. They are much more efficient than ordinary engines, but couldn't be used in cars so far because they can only operate at a small range of speeds, not suitable for the streets. But very good as a generator.

RE: Efficiency ratings...
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 1/26/2011 8:08:48 AM , Rating: 2
There is a car manufacturer that released a concept vehicle with twin turboshaft engines. Dang, I forgot who it was. Anyway, remember those things have helacisouly hot exhaust gases, which would melt the cars behind it.

RE: Efficiency ratings...
By Marlonsm on 1/26/2011 9:20:36 AM , Rating: 2
Right after writing that post I watched Top Gear and there they showed that concept, a Jaguar.

I'm not saying we already have the technology to build such a car and sell it as any other. There are some problems to solve yet, the exhaust heat is one of them, but I've already seem concepts that use that heat to generate more power, cooling it in the process.
We aren't there yet, but I would say that in a few years it could be possible.

RE: Efficiency ratings...
By JediJeb on 1/26/2011 12:04:07 PM , Rating: 2
Actually it is much more efficient to have the diesel engine run a generator and then have that power the wheels. This is mainly due to the fact that the engine will always run at the same rpm which is optimized for efficiency. Locomotives have used this principal for decades.

With this configuration you would not need to constantly speed up and slow down the engine if driving in town, it would simply run at a constant rpm like when you are cruising down the freeway. That is why you get better mileage running faster on the freeway than when running slower in town. Also if you are charging a battery when stopped at a traffic light then you are not wasting the energy idling but instead you are storing it up for later use.

RE: Efficiency ratings...
By Marlonsm on 1/26/2011 4:19:59 PM , Rating: 2
You're right.
When I wrote that I was thinking about highway use mainly. But in the city, the engine as generator only has this advantage.

RE: Efficiency ratings...
By YashBudini on 1/27/2011 11:00:14 PM , Rating: 2
This is mainly due to the fact that the engine will always run at the same rpm which is optimized for efficiency. Locomotives have used this principal for decades.

So my question would be what kind of efficiency could an ICE achieve if it's camshafts, FI, etc, were also optimized to behave in this manner? Has anyone attempted this? And wouldn't a CVT allow/improve such a setup?

Locomotives have other issues as well. They require traction motors for startup, no transmission could possibly handle the requirements of an engine pulling xxx freight cars from 0 to 70+ mph. Still, what you said is correct.

A handle of locomotives that remain in yards have transmissions. They are not the norm.

RE: Efficiency ratings...
By YashBudini on 1/27/2011 11:01:33 PM , Rating: 2
Yeesh, handle. I meant handfull.

RE: Efficiency ratings...
By YashBudini on 1/27/2011 11:08:33 PM , Rating: 2
D'Oh! Handful.

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