Drive Type: RWD
Pinos Altos, New Mexico, United States
World's Most Efficient Car Impresses, Not Without Compromises
Among our many duties at the recent Geneva Motor Show, we were offered a pretty exclusive drive in the new Volkswagen XL1 hyper-efficient plug-in diesel hybrid. There is so much that is interesting about a car like this reaching production from a major automaker that it's tough to know where to begin.
First off, you should know that - at least for this generation - there is absolutely no chance in Albuquerque that this "1-liter vehicle" (i.e. a vehicle that can burn just one liter of fuel to travel 100 kilometers, or 62.1 miles) will ever make it into the hands of North American customers. We, too, were having trouble imagining an XL1 in typical American traffic, surrounded by comparatively massive pickups and SUVs. The driving experience had us recalling a couple of weeks in 1999 when we drove the then-revolutionary Honda Insight hybrid on US roads. We keenly remember the feeling of being very small and vulnerable, even as we felt proudly green in our 61-mpg Tochigi pod. Thing is, the Volkswagen is smaller still, and nearly as light despite its more complex drivetrain and safety features.
Volkswagen looks to be getting ready to jump into the large three-row crossover game. The automaker has officially pulled back the curtain on the CrossBlue Concept at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show.
Designers and engineers penned the machine specifically for the Canadian and US markets, and with a plug-in diesel electric hybrid drivetrain, the hulking five-door, at least in concept form, should offer substantially better efficiency than anything else on the market. The drivetrain pairs a 2.0-liter turbo diesel four-cylinder engine with two electric motors for a combined output of 305 horsepower and a ludicrous 516 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed dual-clutch gearbox handles shifting detail, while one electric motor spins the front wheels. The second motor spins the back axle independently, make the CrossBlue a through-the-road hybrid.
As a result, the crossover can pop to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds. Perhaps more impressively, the CrossBlue can whir around on all-electric propulsion for up to 14 miles at up to 75 mph. Once the diesel four kicks in, the drivetrain can yield up to 39 mpg, though Volkswagen says the hardware can hit 89 MPGe on a full charge thanks to a 9.8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Check out the full press release below for more information.
Volkswagen still has its eyes set on becoming the top global automaker by 2018, and to get there, it's apparently going to need more boots on the ground. Automotive News Europe is reporting that VW is looking to increase its staff by 50,000 over the next five years - an increase of nine percent - which does not include an increase in its US dealer network.
According to the report, a majority of the growth will come from China where the automaker is also looking to double its production capacity in the same time frame. The Volkswagen Group is already expected to rival General Motors for the top sales spot in China this year, and such a rapid expansion in the region could make a good springboard for sales increases in other countries.