Volkswagen Confirms 2013 Production of XL1 Plug-in Diesel Hybrid

By · November 01, 2011

Volkswagen XL1

Volkswagen CEO confirms 2013 production of 261-mpg plug-in XL1.

Remember the Volkswagen L1 that debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show back in 2009? If not, here's a brief refresher: The carbon-fiber bodied L1 concept was powered by a 0.8-liter two-cylinder diesel engine that cranked out 27 horsepower. That diesel engine was supplemented by a 10-kW electric motor housed inside the L1's seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. With a curb weight of only 838 pounds, Volkswagen claimed the L1 would return upwards of 170 miles per gallon.

Then, in January of 2011, Volkswagen unveiled the third generation of its fuel-sipping concept. The third-gen vehicle differed from its predecessor in several ways, but most notably was its addition of a port, which transformed the concept into a plug-in hybrid vehicle. Called the XL1, Volkswagen's lightweight concept boasted an electric-only range of 21 miles and measured in at 153-inches long, 66-inches wide and only 45-inches high. Weight shot up to 1,753 pounds, but the output from its diesel engine jumped to 48 horsepower and its electric motor cranked out 20 kW. Volkswagen claimed the XL1 concept could zip from zero to 62 miles per hour in 11.9 seconds and top out at 100 mph.

Most importantly, the XL1 retained its streamlined body and its ultra-efficient hybrid powertrain. At the time, Volkswagen announced the XL1 would return a remarkable 261 mpg—a questionable figure since it's based on Europe's lenient fuel economy test cycles. Nevertheless, we'd expect the production version to return approximately 150 mpg in "real world" driving and word is a production version is coming soon.

According to Automotive News Europe, Volkswagen chief executive officer, Martin Winterkorn, officially confirmed the 2013 launch of the two-seat XL1. ANE quoted Winterkorn, "We will start small series production by 2013—in Germany." That most likely equates to VW whipping out 100 or so production versions of the XL1 and selling them to the general public over in Germany. So, more of a field trial than a full-scale production vehicle, but hopefully VW brass will decide to eventually give the XL1 plug-in hybrid the mass production green light.


· · 6 years ago

Only putting in a 20 kW electric motor is stupid. A larger electric motor can not only be more efficient but it will provide reasonable performance as well.
This is yet another stupid idea from an ICE OEM that really doesn't want to make EVs so they're just dabbling around.

· · 6 years ago

Only putting in a 20 kW electric motor is stupid. A larger electric motor can not only be more efficient but it will provide reasonable performance as well.
This is yet another stupid idea from an ICE OEM that really doesn't want to make EVs so they're just dabbling around.

· Dan Frederiksen (not verified) · 6 years ago

kinky. but given their dishonest track record (like promising the 1L by 2010) I'll believe it when I see it.
they will find a way to mess it up somehow of course but an all electric XL1 could be quite game changing if by some miracle they did it right.
essentially be a modern EV1 and would appeal a lot to the hardcore green crowd.
they could give it 1+1+1 seating so it could technically house a young family.

· · 6 years ago


· BenBrown (not verified) · 6 years ago

At first glance it seems as though my 2002 Honda Insight had finally evolved and gone the next step forward to being a full electric..., but no its VW taking the effective form to the next level... maybe. Well I hope they do. I also hope they offer a full electric vehicle version Before 2013.

· · 6 years ago

They could have made a full electric that got unprecedented range from a small battery pack. Nothing to see here.

· David K. (not verified) · 6 years ago

I disagree with the nay sayers, this could be a single person's only car. commute to work as an EV, and still go on a road trip as an efficient diesel. In Europe with already high fuel prices only getting higher this might be very well recieved.

· · 6 years ago

At last! Just what the world needs -- a car that makes the 1st gen Honda Insight seem practical. I'm sure it will sell like hot cakes. "Not!"


· · 6 years ago

The other main difference in this 3rd gen car is the two seats are in a staggered tandem arrangement -- side by side but the passenger seat is ~18" behind the driver's seat. The 1st and 2nd gen cars were tandem with the passenger directly behind the driver. The 3rd gen is wider, but the arrangement is certainly more friendly and the wider wheel stance is probably also a good thing.

I am *so* glad they made it a plugin -- this makes all the sense in the world. It gets 2X the MPG of the original Insight, at least! Nothing to sneeze at...


· kalrInSanDiego (not verified) · 6 years ago

They can't make hybrid cars look like you want them to, because form follows function when you're breaking from ineffieicent design.

I think this (and the Opel Eco Speedster) proves that they've had the technology to crush current mileage barriers, but they're afraid to make them real. Why must they feed the conpiracies by sitting on earth shattering mileage?

· Amir VW (not verified) · 5 years ago

The idea behind a hybrid diesel is genious. What better way to make a vehicle as efficient as possible while still providing lots of power. What people don't understand is that the market dictates what vehicles will be produced and when. America still loves their giant SUV gas guzzlers and they will continue to manufacture these vehicles due to profits. The electric age is still 10 years away. BUT, leave it VW to create a Hybrid done right... just like the new 2013 Jetta Hybrid. That car is going to be great! This will just be epic.

· joe hentschel (not verified) · 5 years ago

In the UK where the fuel is very dear,this car will make a differerence.For commuting it will be exactly the right car.I can't wait till I get my hands on one.

· GCO (not verified) · 5 years ago

Ex-ev driver,
Adding a larger (more powerful) electric motor adds weight. Not only for the larger motor but the batteries needed to power the more hungry motor. VW is going with the best weight to power ratio in order to get the highest economy possible out of currently produced technology. There may be better technologies out there (nano cell batteries). But they are not mass produced and therefore are expensive to procure.

I think this car is very good looking. It is practical for almost every driver I know. Most people commute alone to work with almost no baggage. If everyone had one of these and maybe another larger car for road trips and passenger runs, global fuel consumption would drop dramatically.

Expect to see this in my driveway 2013!

· · 5 years ago

I don't think you're understanding.
First of all, just having a larger electric motor doesn't mean you have to drive it at it's maximum rating.
Second of all, you're right that a large motor will be a bit larger, however, unlike an ICE, an electric motor is quite light compared with the rest of the automobile so even doubling its size doesn't add much to the overall car's weight.
For example, look at some of the highest performance EV motors by AC Propulsion (
Their 75 kW AC-75 motor weighs 34 kg while their 150 kW AC-150 motor weighs 50 kg. That's a 200% power increase at an addition of 16 kg for a ~50% mass increase. That 150 kW motor will run at slow speeds and outputs more efficiently than the smaller 75 kW motor if the smaller motor will be closer to its inefficient regime while delivering the necessary hp to do the necessary job. No additional batteries would be required, in fact, if the motor is performing more efficiently, one might get by with a smaller battery pack and still get the same range.
There is certainly a motor size that is so large that it doesn't make sense, however, I'll guarantee you that 20 kW is no where near that limit.
VW is simply showing their bias against or ignorance about EVs by undersizing the Electric motor.

· · 5 years ago

Volkswagen is certainly running on a different temperment than the VW I knew as a kid. They used to come up with a simple idea, run with it, and support it, namely, keeping quality HIGH and not following every single fad..

The Fad today seems to be, "Make the thing as Complicated as you can think of, and put the most microscopic battery it in you can find".

I wish someone would get interested in Big Batteries. Thank heaven Bob Lutz was around for the VOLT. If he wasn't, I don't think the end result would have been 40 mile ev driving in the spring and fall.

· Jamez (not verified) · 5 years ago

This article is 1 year old. The car was supposed to be released 2 years ago. Does anyone understand that high fuel mileage isn't being suppressed by oil companies, but by politicians. Did you know that there is a FUEL TAX on every gallon. It varies by state, but is 35 cents or so per gallon on average. That's a LOT of money the politicians would loose. Have you EVER heard of a politician ready to have loads of ready cash cut from their budgets? People love to rail against the oil companies, but it's the politicians who have their hands in OUR POCKETS. They'll keep them there long enough to grab all that cash with both hands, and make a stash..... to quote a famous song.

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