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VW L1 diesel-hybrid concept at 2009 Frankfurt motor show

Tue, 15 Sep 2009 00:00:00 -0700

By Ben Pulman

First Official Pictures

15 September 2009 10:30

This slender concept car is VW’s new L1, a diesel-electric hybrid unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt motor show. Made from aluminium and carbonfibre it weighs just 380kg, and is capable of 189mpg while emitting just 39g/km CO2.

Let’s start with the aerodynamics. The L1 is as low as a Lamborghini and a mere 1200mm wide so it has a drag co-efficient of just 0.195 – the slipperiest production car on sale today is the Mercedes E-class Coupe, and that manages just 0.24Cd. But the streamline shape also means the L1’s two occupants have to sit in tandem, and enter through an electrically operated canopy.

The kerbweight is kept low (380kg) by the use of carbonfibre and aluminium in the construction, while power comes from an ultra-efficient 800cc two-cylinder common-rail diesel engine. It produces 29bhp, plus 74lb ft at 1900rpm, or just 27bhp at 4000rpm in a special ‘eco’ mode, and is effectively half of the four-cylinder engine that’s under the bonnet of the new Golf Bluemotion (see below).

There’s also a 14hp electric motor that allows zero-emissions running over short distances, and produces 40% extra torque when the L1 is accelerating.

The performance figures aren’t startling though – 0-62mph takes 14.3 seconds and it’s a brave person who’ll push the L1 to its 99mph top speed – but that lack of grunt does mean the incredible 189mpg and 39g/km CO2. And although the fuel tank is a tiny 10-litres, the L1 still has a range of 416 miles.

The two occupants sit in tandem, with the driver seated on a thin carbon bucket and the rear passenger ensconced on a seat built into the monocoque. The main controls are grouped around the steering wheel, while two LED screens display images from the external cameras that have replaced the door mirrors.

There was, and its claimed figures of 0.159Cd, 285mpg and 290kg were even more impressive that the L1. Ferdinand Piech unveiled it in 2002 (see bottom row of pictures, right), but at the time the carbonfibre-reinforced body wasn’t economically viable for production. But VW says the modern production processes now make large-scale manufacture of such a structure possible, so what this space…

Alongside the L1, VW also unveiled three new Bluemotion cars at Frankfurt, based on the Polo, Golf and Passat, and all featuring TDI engines, intelligent decoupling alternators and stop/start systems.

The Polo Bluemotion is powered by a 74bhp 1.2-litre TDI engine, and manages 85.6mpg while emitting just 87g/km, enough – VW claims – to cover 851 miles between fill ups. The Golf and Passat Bluemotion both use a 104bhp 1.6 TDI, but while the Golf achieves 74.3mpg and 99g/km, the Passat lags behind with a pathetic 64.2mpg and planet-killing 114g/km.

By Ben Pulman