Last month, Volkswagen made waves by announcing that its ambitious One-Liter program would lead to the release of a plug-in hybrid with 261-mpg fuel economy by 2013. The car will be the culmination of more than a decade of testing and engineering that VW had long maintained would never produce a consumer vehicle—acting instead as a point of inspiration for cars that might yield fuel economy in the 100-mpg range.
Now, according to a pair of recent reports by Autocar, two of those vehicles are headed to market: the first is the Up! Blue-e-motion Hybrid; the other a future incarnation of the VW Golf scheduled for release in, ahem, 2020.
The VW Up! Hybrid doesn’t yet have a firm timetable but is supposedly headed for Europe sometime in the next few years. The vehicle could get 95 mpg under the European test cycle—equivalent to about 79 mpg in the United States—which is outstanding, even for a small city car.
To achieve this fuel economy, Autocar says that VW will team a 0.8-liter twin-cylinder turbodiesel engine capable of 47 hp with a battery-powered electric motor, which can add up to 26 additional horsepower into the mix as needed. The Up! will share an aluminum engine block and a variety of other fuel and weight-saving features developed in common with the XL1, but likely won’t have an electric-only capability. (Of course, a lot could change between now and a possible release date.) The car will instead use its considerably-smaller battery pack to assist with acceleration, as well as power Volkswagen’s new “pulse starting” stop-start system.
Unfortunately, VW doesn’t plan to sell the Up! Hybrid in the United States, where the appetite for city cars is considered is weak, and VW expects to have relatively little difficultly keeping pace with fuel economy requirements over the next few years.
Although 79-mpg fuel economy may not be enough to motivate most Americans to purchase a city car, the prospect of getting 83 mpg in a car that is already popular here, could be considerably more attractive. Autocar says the 2020 VW Golf will get 100 mpg in Europe—83 mpg in the U.S.—just in time to help Volkswagen meet tough new increases in EU emissions standards.
In 2020, carmakers in Europe will be forced limit the average emissions from their lineups to 95 g/km. For some perspective, the current Toyota Prius model generates 104 g/km, while the forthcoming Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid will pollute at a rate of 76 g/km. The 2020 Golf is targeted for just 75 g/km—without the aid of a plug.
The car could be two model revisions away—with VW currently on the MK6 iteration of the Golf. The XL1-inspired model will likely be released as part of the MK8 platform. By then, VW is hoping that costs of components like carbon fiber bodies and lightweight alloy engine parts will go down, making the world’s first mass-market 100-mpg hybrid price-competitive with other non-plug-ins getting half of its fuel economy. We’ll continue to monitor the L1 project and its potential hybrid offshoots.