In Electric-Drive Mode, Volkswagen XL1 is the World’s Most Efficient Plug-In Vehicle


Aerodynamic and Lightweight, the VW XL1 Leads in Electric Drive Mode Efficiency

Aerodynamic and Lightweight, the VW XL1 Leads in Electric Drive Mode Efficiency

Volkswagen wants us all to know that it’s ultra-aerodynamic XL1 plug-in hybrid is the world’s most efficient electric-drive vehicle.

The German automaker just released a nifty graphic (posted above), which compares the electric-drive efficiency of today’s available plug-in vehicles.

As the graphic shows, the XL1 is easily the most efficient operator when it’s in electric-only mode.  However, the XL1 can only stay in that mode for up to 31 miles and that’s an optimistic claim for sure.

It’s worth pointing out that VW used EPA test methodology for all of the vehicles shown in the chart above, but choose to use NEDC test procedures (likely because the XL1 has not been subjected to EPA testing) for the XL1.

According to VW, the XL1 achieves this top-level efficiency mainly due to aerodynamics (it is the most slippery production vehicle ever with a coefficient of drag of 0.189) and low weight.  The XL1 barely even tips the scales at 1,753 pounds.

We’ve listed below some additional specs that might be worth mentioning here:

  • slightly askew 2 person seating
  • top speed of 98 mph
  • 0-62 mph in 12.7 seconds
  • scissor doors
  • NEDC rating of 261 mpg
  • 0.8 liter two-cylinder TDI diesel engine that puts out 47 hp
  • 20kW electric motor
  • 7-speed dual-clutch transmission

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13 Comments on "In Electric-Drive Mode, Volkswagen XL1 is the World’s Most Efficient Plug-In Vehicle"

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Very nice Volkswagen. How about a chart for how much does it cost and when can I buy it?


Oops … VW just cancelled production of the car [10 second pause] OK production is back on track [20 second pause] We regret to inform you that it is cancelled again … [rinse, repeat].

Im sorry but this is just silly. The NEDC is far from compareble to the EPA.

In the real world, the XL1 is a solid 100 mpg car, about 2.5 times as good as a Leaf, and 3 times as good as a 85 kWh Tesla S. So what. It is not being made available to the general public. It is a PR exercise. Other than the modern EV drivetrain, there is nothing about this car that was not already demonstrated at least once a decade for one hundred years!

As long as gas is still as cheap as water, the public will always opt for big boxes.

2.5 times? 3 times?
do you know how to use calculator?


Warren, Yes, but… … would it make sense for VW to now release an EV Golf, Polo or even an e-Up to world or CARB markets? VW is a little late to the party, and a something conventional EV released now as a new entrant would likely not be competitive best practice in say 2015. Changing battery technologies will by itself be a defining turning point in EV design. We are already frustrated with GM having a design already many years old, and is probably by design a limitation preventing the right price point. The XL1 does challenge normal thinking from a buyers point of view. In time we might think this car to be a turning point in design and market acceptance. Some things have been done before, but all in the one package that could be put on the market? As once an aeronautical engineer, I’m delighted to see a demonstrated commitment to efficiency over conventional wisdom in style and parts bin reuse. Now for a practical 3 seater askew seating fast charging EV 3 door hatch higher performance version of extreme efficiency. Tesla has shown that there is a market for excellence in design and execution. Sooner… Read more »

This makes a Tesla S look like a fat man drinking diet soda! He beat their pants off, on 20% of the energy!!

It is not about about getting to a battery that can drive a third world house on wheels.

The VW only has a 20 kw electric motor… every time it accelerates it will need the ICE to kick in…. and it won’t be regenerating much on braking either.

This is clearly a lame attempt by VW to keep their name in the EV news. What good are engineering exercises if they don’t lead to production vehicles? How about getting your name in the news by producing an affordable EV or EREV that we an buy here in America? Almost every other major manufacturer has electric vehicles for sale now. Why are they lagging so far behind?

Exactly….it’s just a concept car, and VW still has no plug-in vehicle for sale. Just more concepts.

And Han Solo and C3pO had “interstellar drive” but sadly, like the XL1, none of the rest of us have seen this kind of performance.