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VW Builds 265 MPG Car

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On: Thu, Jul 18, 2013 at 12:49PM | By: Bill Wilson

VW Builds 265 MPG Car

Whatever you think of automaker Volkswagen, one thing is for sure: its leaders aren’t likely to shrink from a challenge. Most car companies chafed when Uncle Sam released its updated fuel economy standards in August of 2012. The new guidelines mandate that vehicles sold in the United States must achieve an average of 54.5 miles per gallon (MPG) by 2025.  VW, on the other hand, decided to not only meet the requirement but to exceed it, and do so 12 years ahead of time. The result is the XL1.

Scheduled to go into production at the end of this year, it will be the first vehicle available to the general public able to go 200+ miles on a single gallon of fuel. Consumers can almost hear oil company executives quaking in their $1,200 patent leather shoes.

The XL1 achieves this amazing economy level by pushing current technology almost to its breaking point; hence its designation in some circles as a “hypercar.” It combines the time-tested reliability of a diesel engine with the cutting-edge technology of electric hybrids. In addition, it makes extensive use of ultra-light materials; less than 25% of the XL1 is made of iron or steel. Combine these features with sleek aerodynamic styling and it’s easy to see how VW used every trick in the book to squeeze as much energy as possible out of each drop of fuel.

EPA tests estimate that the XL1 will get as much as 265 MPG. This claim is admittedly a tad optimistic, since it assumes that the lithium-ion battery pack will be recharged every 75-100 miles. But, even after that consideration is eliminated, real-world tests show that the car will average 120 MPG in daily driving, or about three times what the Toyota Prius gets.

Of course, nothing comes without a price, and drivers will have to accept certain drawbacks. The XL1 isn’t exactly a family sedan. It can accommodate two people, with one sitting behind the other, motorbike-style, in the rear seat. There is no trunk. Also, the car has only one wheel in the back, though, to be fair, VW engineers figured out how to make the design look cool anyway. Those who enjoy the reassuring presence of rear-view mirrors will be let down as well. VW dropped them in favor of a back-facing camera to cut down on wind drag.

Most disappointing to performance enthusiasts, however, will be the vehicle’s acceleration. The XL1 goes from 0-60 in a leisurely 11.9 seconds. It won’t be turning heads at a NASCAR event anytime soon.

Limitations notwithstanding, a practical day-to-day commuter vehicle that can go between 120 and 265 miles on a gallon of diesel is a heady achievement indeed, and shows what can be done when automakers take fuel economy seriously. Word on the street is that the XL1 will go on sale in Europe in early 2014. Whether it will make it to America depends on many factors, including how much pressure voters put on their elected representatives. If there was ever a cause worthy of widespread support, bringing this amazing car to US shores certainly qualifies.

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