VW's 261-MPG XLI Could Come to the U.S.
NEW YORK CITY—The highlight of Volkswagen’s press conference at the New York International Auto Show Thursday was the introduction of the new Golf. The company’s fuel-economy champ XL1 wasn’t even on the company’s stand.
In February, I said the two-seat XL1 is “the best plug-in hybrid that Americans can’t buy.” It's largely aimed at Europe. But perhaps I spoke too soon. After the Golf was teed up, I approached Jonathan Browning, president and CEO of Volkswagen of America, and asked him about the aerodynamic and ultra-lightweight (1,753 pounds) XL1, which is claimed to get as much as 261 mpg from its miniscule 800-cc TDI diesel engine and 27 horsepower electric motor.
“We’re only building 250 globally,” he said, “but we could bring in a few to the U.S., probably less than 20. We will make a decision on that soon.”
Would it be Legal?
Of course, there’s the question of whether the XL1 will be legal in the American market, given the need to meet crash standards and other regulations. Browning was upfront about not knowing if there are exceptions made for very limited production vehicles.
I don’t know, either, but I have reported on the Bill Gates exception. The Microsoft founder lobbied for and got permission during the Clinton Administration to bring his non-federalized Porsche 959 into the U.S. under the new “show and display” rules, which don’t allow for all that much driving.
Apparently, the exemption has also been used to bring in a bunch of non-certified European cars, from the McLaren F1 to the Jaguar XJ220. Of course, the XL1 isn’t the kind of prize you keep on a stand and never drive. What’s the point of a 261-mpg car that never hits the road?
New to EVs? Start here
Electric Cars Pros and Cons
EVs are a great solution for most people. But not everybody.
Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
A few simple tips before you visit the dealership.
Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
Buying Your First Home EV Charger
You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.
The Ultimate Guide to Electric Car Charging Networks
If you plan to charge in public, you'll want to sign up for charging network membership (or two).
Electric Vehicle Charging for Businesses
How do you ensure that electric car owners will be happy with every visit to your charging spot?
How to Use the PlugShare EV Charging Station Tool
Locate EV charging stations and optimize their use with a powerful mobile app.
Quick Charging of Electric Cars
Add 50 to 60 miles of range in about 20 minutes. Here's how.
The Real Price of EV Public Charging
Compare the cost of charging on the road to what you pay at home.
Electric Vehicle Charging Etiquette
Thou shalt charge only when necessary. And other rules to live by.