VW Readies Mass-Market Hybrids Based on 261-MPG Model

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.


  • DownUnder

    Now Toyota has a formidable competitor.

  • Capt. Concernicus

    GM is supposedly coming out with a car that will get 230 mpg’s. Ha ha…

    Not sure how this car will compete with Toyota’s line up. It’s more of a competitor for the SmartForTwo (a failure in itself).

  • JJJ

    A question about the difference in mpg between europe in USA….is it just that the testing is different, or are the motors different?

  • usbseawolf2000

    @JJJ – The testing is different and the size of the gallon is different. There is no easy way to convert EU MPG to US EPA MPG.

  • Shines

    sean t – Toyota may have a formidable competitor except that the earliest these vehicles will be available is 2 years from now. One of these they are saying will be 2020!?! We already know Toyota plans to have a plug in Prius before then. A lot can change in 8 years… So don’t count your chickens before they hatch ; – )

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  • Niset guy

    The engine are quite different ( smaller in europe)
    the way to calulate is the same;
    but as the gas price is a lot more expensive ( almost 7.5$ per gallon) european built car that meet greater mpg

  • Niset guy

    FYI

    1 gallon = 3.8 liters
    1 mile = 1.6Kilometers
    1euro = 1.36 $

    In europe we say : how much liters are burned to drive 100 kilometer ; for example 5L per 100 km

    In Us, you will say about the same car : 47.5mpg

    if a car make 100mpg in US In europe , we will say the car need 2.375L per 100 km

    Hope this help

  • DownUnder

    As usbseawolf said, British gallon is different from US gallon.
    Even same car, same engine, same test, same fuel, the UK MPG is definitely different from the US MPG (1 UK gallon = 1.2 US gallon).
    Fortunately, a litre in Europe is the same as a litre in US or Asia or Africa or Antartica : )

  • David Zatz

    While the gallon itself may not need to be converted, esp if you are going from 100km/liter to m/g (mpg), the test cycles are very, very different and will yield substantially different results even with an identical powertrain. For an illustration, compare the results of the same US car pre/post 2008 testing regimen… or before/after other changes in the US test. Or compare a car’s Canadian mpg to its USA mpg… adjusting in this case from Imperial gallons.

    Some of the issues involved are how many cold starts are included, how cold the starts are (60 F, 20F, etc), top speeds reached, time taken to reach highway speed (is acceleration fast or slow), whether a/c is used, how long a/c is on, etc. The faster you drive (past around 40-60 mph), for many cars, the lower mileage will be, especially if gearing is acceleration-oriented. Warmup time varies. A/C parasitic losses vary.

  • lindab

    What do you mean “the current Toyota Prius model generates 104 g/km”, are you from the distant past :)

  • Anonymous

    A Bird in hand is better than 2 in the bush.

    Its better if Volkswagen sells a 40 MPG vehicle this year instead of promising 260 MPG vehicle in 2013.

    Ofcourse they sell Diesel’s with 40 MPG but they carry $4K premium and without subsidies, may not get their ROI.

    Ford Focus Hatch which gives 40 MPG and costs around 19K with Automatic should be much better option for now. And also the Insight which starts at 18.2K and gives 43 MPG.

  • tapra1

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  • hightech346

    Volkswagon has always had very fuel efficent cars in their diesel line up. Small turbo diesel cars are the way to go if you want more MPG’s