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Dec 11, 2013

Futuristic-looking TDI® Clean Diesel plug-in hybrid nets 261 mpg on the European combined fuel economy cycle

• XL1 can operate as a pure EV for up to 31 miles
• Two-cylinder TDI engine displaces 0.8 liters, makes 48 horsepower
• Best aerodynamics of any production car: Cd of just 0.189
• Super-low weight of 1753 pounds achieved through extensive use of carbonfiber, aluminum, and magnesium 
• 250 will be built at Volkswagen’s Osnabrück factory in Germany

New York -  New Yorkers got a glimpse of the future this week, as the Volkswagen XL1 arrived in the City as part of a month-long American tour that took in Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and the Big Apple. 

The XL1, which looks like it could have driven off the set of a sci-fi movie, is the most fuel-efficient production car in the world, with a European combined fuel consumption rating of 261 mpg and CO2 emissions of 21 g/km. Thanks to its plug-in hybrid system, this two-seater can also cover up to 31 miles as a zero-emissions electric vehicle.

To achieve this incredible fuel economy, Volkswagen engineers married an incredibly efficient, diesel-electric plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain with a lightweight carbonfiber structure and the best aerodynamics of any production car in the world. The XL1 weighs just 1753 pounds, has a coefficient of drag of just 0.189, and uses a 48-horsepower two-cylinder turbocharged and direct-injection TDI® Clean Diesel engine that is mated to a 27-horsepower electric motor, a seven-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission, and a 5.5 kWh lithium-ion battery. Thanks to this formula, this super-efficient Volkswagen can cruise at a constant 62 mph while using just 8.3 horsepower. In all-electric mode, the XL1 requires less than 0.1 kWh to cover more than 0.6 miles (one kilometer).

The 261 mpg fuel consumption figure is a record for a production car, showing that Volkswagen is in the automotive industry’s technical vanguard. The XL1 also has a top speed of 99 mph and can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 12.7 seconds. 

Conceptually, the XL1 represents the third evolutionary stage of Volkswagen’s 1-liter car strategy. At the start of this current millennium, Prof. Dr. Ferdinand Piëch—currently Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG—formulated the visionary goal of producing a practical car that had a combined fuel consumption of one liter per 100 km (235 mpg). In the two-seat XL1, this vision has become reality. 

Despite the tremendous efficiency of the XL1, the engineers and designers successfully came up with a body design that delivers more everyday utility than the two previous prototypes. In the L1, the 1-liter car that was shown in 2002 and 2009, the driver and passenger sat behind each other for optimal aerodynamics; in the XL1, the two occupants sit slightly offset, side by side, almost like a conventional vehicle.

The XL1 is 153.1 inches long, 65.6 inches wide, and just 45.4 inches tall. By comparison, a Volkswagen Polo is slightly longer (156.3 in) and wider (66.2 in), but is significantly taller (57.6 in). Even a purebred sports car like today’s Porsche Boxster is 5.1 inches taller. Just 250 XL1s will be produced at the Volkswagen factory in Osnabrück, Germany, priced at approximately $145,000.




Carbonfiber reinforced polymer monocoque and panels

Length x width x height                       

153.1 in x 65.6 in x 45.4 in


87.6 in

Drive system                                      

Plug-in diesel hybrid, rear-wheel drive


TDI Clean Diesel, two cylinder


830 cc


48 hp, 89 lb-ft

Electric motor                                      

27 hp, 103 lb-ft

System output                                     

68 hp, 103 lb-ft


Seven-speed DSG automatic

Battery type                                         

5.5 kWh lithium-ion


1753 lb

Performance/fuel economy


Max speed                                          

99 mph (electronically limited)

European fuel consumption                

261 mpg

C02 emissions                                    

21 g/km

EV range                                             

31 miles

EV/TDI range                                      

More than 310 miles (10 liter fuel tank)

About Volkswagen of America, Inc.
Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc., an operating unit of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (VWoA) is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia. It is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. VWoA’s operations in the United States include research and development, parts and vehicle processing, parts distribution centers, sales, marketing and service offices, financial service centers, and its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Volkswagen Group is one of the world's largest producers of passenger cars and Europe's largest automaker. VWoA sells the Beetle, Beetle Convertible, Eos, Golf, Golf R, GTI, Jetta, Jetta SportWagen, Passat, CC, Tiguan, and Touareg vehicles through approximately 630 independent U.S. dealers. Visit Volkswagen of America online at or to learn more.

This press release and images of the XL1 are available at Follow us @VWNews

“DSG”, “TDI”, “VW”, “Volkswagen”, all model names and the Volkswagen logo are registered trademarks of Volkswagen AG. 



Mark Gillies

Darryll Harrison
(310) 773-6720