VW will build small run of its ultra-efficient XL1
Europe, U.S., China are potential markets for carbon fiber two-seat car
DOHA, Qatar -- Volkswagen AG will begin production of its new ultra fuel-efficient car, the XL1, in two years.
"We want to go into series production with this car starting in 2013," VW Chairman Ferdinand Piech told Automotive News Europe on Tuesday at an event in Doha ahead of the 2011 Qatar auto show where VW unveiled an XL1 prototype.
VW CEO Martin Winterkorn identified the XL1's first markets in an interview with ANE at the same event. "We will bring out the XL1 in Europe first, initially Germany. The U.S. and China will follow at a later date," he said.
Winterkorn said there were plans initially for a "small production run” while the company's development chief, Ulrich Hackenberg, said up to 100 XL1 cars could be built.
VW has not made a decision on where the XL1 will be built, but Hackenberg said the company's German factories in Wolfsburg and Dresden were possibilities.
Piech declined to comment on a possible price for the XL1, saying that it was "too early." But the car will "certainly be for sale," he said, countering the suspicion that the car might only be used in field tests and might not reach consumers.
Carbon fiber body parts
The two-seat XL1 prototype is the latest concept to come from VW's strategy to produce a so-called "one-liter car" that uses less than 1 liter of fuel per 100 kilometers. By using lightweight carbon fiber body parts to reduce weight to 795kg (1,753 pounds), and a plug-in diesel-electric powertrain, the XL1 uses just 0.9 liters of fuel per 100km (261 U.S. mpg, 313 UK mpg) and emits 24 grams per kilometer of CO2.
The XL1's powertrain consists of a lithium ion battery pack, an electric motor and a two-cylinder, 800cc diesel engine. VW says the XL1 can also be driven for up to 35km (22 miles) on electricity from the battery, which can be charged from a household electrical outlet.
According to Piech, the XL1 has the second-highest amount of carbon fiber parts in a VW group car after the Bugatti supercar. Lightweight construction technology will be used by other brands in the group including VW's Italian sports car subsidiary Lamborghini. Piech said the cost of the materials has dropped dramatically, helped by the aircraft manufacturer Boeing with its Dreamliner airplane.
The carbon body of VW's first one-liter car in 2002 cost 35,000 euros. But the cost for the XL1 is just 5,000 euros, Piech said.
Hackenberg toldANE: "By 2013, the price of the lithium battery will come down to 200 to 250 euros."
It hasn't been determined whether other VW group brands, such as Audi, Seat and Skoda, will benefit from the XL1 development.
Piech proud of Audi
Piech said VW's Spanish subsidiary Seat, which was badly hit by the economic crisis in its home market of Spain, is recovering after posting losses in the past few years. "Mothers don't really talk about their foster children. We only have one, Seat, and the brand is recovering fast," he said.
Audi is the VW group brand that fills Piech with the greatest pride. "Audi is perfect in terms of research and development," Piech said. His favorite model in the VW group is currently "the new Audi A6 with the FSI engine,” he said.