261 MPG Volkswagen XL1 Plug-In Hybrid Goes Into Production

The Volkswagen XL1 debuted today with the announcement that the Beetle for a new century will get 261 MPG. The 261 MPG VW hybrid car gets this fuel efficiency by limiting passengers to two seats and the car is constructed from carbon fiber, aluminium and titanium.

Volkswagen claims the hybrid car will do 261 mpg, or 313 mpg by European standards, using diesel fuel. The XL1 will travel 31 miles on electricity alone before switching over to diesel, which has a limit of 310 miles. These numbers will probably represent a theoretical maximum, with the EPA likely to give the Volkswagen a much lower fuel efficiency rating than 261 MPG.

The Volkswagen XL1 is powered by a a two cylinder, 0.8 liter diesel mounted in the rear of the XL1, which means the trunk is in the front. The hybrid engine is linked to a 7-speed transmission, a 5.5 kWh lithium ion battery and electric motor. The two-seat body of the XL1 has a 0.189 drag coefficient and weighs just 1,752 pounds. In comparison, a Toyota Prius has a 0.25 drag coefficient and weighs about double.

Yahoo Auto points out that Volkswagen had to make a few sacrifices to reach 261 MPG:

“That efficiency comes with a few sacrifices, with speed first among them. Together, the electric motor and engine produce 68 hp and 103 lb-ft of torque. VW says that’s enough to launch the XL1 to 62 mph in 12.7 seconds — although it suggests not doing so. Top speed is limited to 99 mph. And the two seat interior of the XL1 has to look stylish, because there’s nothing behind the seats; the XL1 will offer a limited amount of space under the hood.”

Fox News says the Volkswagen XL1 will be manufactured in low volume and potentially cost $100,000 or more. Holger Boch, the Volkwagen XL1 project leader, explains who they think will buy this expensive vehicle:

“It’s clearly going to cost a lot more than a Golf – it’s made of carbonfibre and has two engines. The people who buy it will be people who like technology and who like being seen in a low-CO2 car.”

At what price point would you be interested in buying a plug-in hybrid like the Volkswagen XL1 that can get 261 MPG?