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Volkswagen XL1 Diesel Plug-In Hybrid: Live Photos From Geneva

Will this be the car that finally makes the ultra-aerodynamic and futuristic GM EV1 electric car look old-fashioned?

Today, VW Group took the wraps off the production version of the Volkswagen XL1, a turbodiesel plug-in hybrid two-seater that will be its most fuel-efficient model ever offered.

The ultra-streamlined XL1 was first shown as a concept car in January 2011.

Efficiency starts with an extremely lightweight 12-foot-long body made of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, with an astoundingly low drag coefficient of just 0.186 and total weight of only 1,750 pounds.

That’s partially due to its staggered, seating, which reduces the car’s overall width–and thereby its frontal area–to reduce the amount of air it displaces moving down the road at speed, all in the name of saving fuel.

You’ll also notice the rear wheels are inset, and there are no door mirrors–with the XL1 using rear-view video cameras instead.

The Volkswagen XL1 production car is powered by a tiny 0.8-liter two-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine producing 47 horsepower and a 20-kilowatt (27-hp) electric motor paired with a 7-speed automated dual-clutch transmission.

Fuel efficiency is quoted as 261 miles per gallon on the European test cycle, though as always that doesn’t translate directly to what the U.S. EPA might put on a window sticker–if the XL1 were ever to go on sale in the U.S.

And achieving that fuel economy does require a few recharges of the car’s lithium-ion battery pack, which is mounted up front, with the engine, motor, and transmission in the tail behind the passengers.
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