Volkswagen's XL1 - The Car Of The Future - Fox 2 News Headlines

Volkswagen's XL1 - The Car Of The Future

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Volkswagen executive Christian Buhlmann is in town from Germany getting ready for the LA Auto Show, but first he stopped by Good Day LA to show off the most fuel efficient car in the world, the Volkswagen XL1.

The car can go 260 miles using only one gallon of gas using a combination of an electric engine and a diesel-fuel engine, or as Lisa Breck says, "It goes both ways."

What also adds to the fuel efficiency is the ultra-light weight body made from carbon fibers.

The car costs about $145 thousand dollars. However, there are elements of this car that will be used in other lines that Volkswagen produces. This means that future cars we are familiar with like to VS Golf will become more fuel effecient in the coming years.

One cool aspect of this highly aero-dynamic car is the rear view monitors. One thing that causes wind drag in most cars are the rear-view mirrors. The XL1 uses small camereas and TV monitors inside the car to see what's happening behind the car.

You can get a close-up look at the car starting this week at the LA Auto Show.

Check out The LA Auto Show on Facebook.

Or follow LA Auto Show on Twitter: @LAAutoShow 

For more about the XL1, check out an article from Car and Driver Magazine.

Also, Volkswagen sent us LOTS of information on the car including specs, manufacturing process and the philosophy behind the vehicle:

Wolfsburg, Germany  - The XL1 is the most fuel-efficient production car in the world, with a European combined fuel consumption rating of 261 mpg and CO2 emissions of 21 g/km. Thanks to its plug-in hybrid system, this two-seater can also cover up to 31 miles as a zero-emissions electric vehicle.

The XL1 is an automotive standout that follows pure sports-car design principles: lightweight (1753 pounds), exceptional aerodynamics (a coefficient of drag of just 0.19), and a low center of gravity. Thanks to this formula, this super-efficient Volkswagen can cruise at a constant 62 mph while using just 8.3 horsepower. In all-electric mode, the XL1 requires less than 0.1 kWh to cover more than 0.6 miles (one kilometer).

The XL1's plug-in hybrid system consists of a 48-hp two-cylinder TDI® Clean Diesel engine, a 27-hp electric motor, a seven-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission, and a lithium-ion battery. The 261 mpg fuel consumption figure is a record for a production car, showing that Volkswagen is in the automotive industry's technical vanguard. The XL1 also has a top speed of 99 mph and can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 12.7 seconds.

Conceptually, the XL1 represents the third evolutionary stage of Volkswagen's 1-liter car strategy. At the start of this current millennium, Prof. Dr. Ferdinand Piëch-currently Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG-formulated the visionary goal of producing a practical car that had a combined fuel consumption of one liter per 100 km (235 mpg). In the two-seat XL1, this vision has become reality.

Despite the tremendous efficiency of the XL1, the engineers and designers successfully came up with a body design that delivers more everyday utility than the two previous prototypes. In the L1, the 1-liter car that was shown in 2002 and 2009, the driver and passenger sat behind each other for optimal aerodynamics; in the XL1, the two occupants sit slightly offset, side by side, almost like a conventional vehicle.

The XL1 is 153.1 inches long, 65.6 in wide, and just 45.4 in tall. By comparison, a Volkswagen Polo is slightly longer (156.3 in) and wider (66.2 in), but is significantly taller (57.6 in). Even a purebred sports car like today's Porsche Boxster is 5.1 inches taller. Just 250 XL1s will be produced at the Volkswagen factory in Osnabrück, Germany.

Carbonfiber structure

As well as the pioneering technology in the drivetrain, the XL1 also utilizes lightweight and extremely strong carbonfiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) construction for the monocoque, all exterior body parts, and components such as the anti-roll bars. Produced using the Resin Transfer Molding process (RTM), the density/specific gravity of the CFRP is around 20 percent of a comparable steel exterior structure's. The CFRP parts are as strong as comparable steel or aluminum parts, yet the exterior skin of the XL1 is just 0.05 inches thick.

A look at the scales shows why CFRP is the ideal material for the XL1's body. The Volkswagen weighs just 1753 pounds, composed of: 501 lb for the drive unit including battery; 337 lb for the running gear; 176 lb for the interior; 232 lb for the electrical system; and 507 lb for the body, including crash structure and windshield. A total of 21.3 percent of the new XL1, or 373 lb, consists of CFRP. In addition, Volkswagen uses lightweight metals for 22.5 percent of all the parts (395 lb), with just 23.2 percent (406 lb) of the car being constructed from steel and iron. An example of the attention to weight saving can be seen with the seats: they are made from CFRP and weigh 25.6 lb each, or about half the mass of a normal car seat.

Thanks to the use of CFRP, the XL1 is not only light but very safe. In a collision, the extremely strong CFRP monocoque provides an impressive survival cell for the driver and passenger. This is achieved by intelligent design of load paths, including the use of sandwich structures in the monocoque, while the front and rear aluminum crush structures absorb a large share of energy in frontal and rear collisions. The CFRP doors have aluminum impact beams to absorb crash energy and the door frame also minimizes intrusions into the safety cell. A great deal of attention was also paid to extricating occupants in the event of a rollover collision: pyrotechnic separating screws are used to simplify opening of the doors, which ordinarily open upwards.

Compared to manufacturing CFRP in a pre-preg process, the RTM process is more economical-with lower costs at higher volumes-because it can be automated. The RTM parts are produced in multi-shell heated and vacuum-sealed molds. This involves injecting liquid resin at high pressure into the tool which contains the semi-finished carbon material. The part is then cured in the mold.

Plug-in hybrid concept

The XL1 is a plug-in parallel hybrid, using fuel-efficient TDI Clean Diesel common-rail turbodiesel technology and the DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. The TDI generates 48 horsepower and 89 pound-feet of torque from just 830 cc. The entire hybrid unit is housed between the driven rear wheels. The hybrid module, which incorporates the electric motor and the clutch, is positioned between the TDI engine and the seven-speed DSG transmission.

The 5.5kWh lithium-ion battery-integrated in the front section of the XL1-supplies the electric motor with 220 volts of electrical energy. The battery weighs 150 pounds and consists of 60 cells, with a carbonfiber case. The power electronics system manages the flow of high voltage energy to and from the battery or electric motor and converts direct current to alternating current. The XL1's 12-volt electrical system is supplied via a DC/DC converter and a small auxiliary battery.

The lithium-ion battery can be charged from a conventional household electric outlet. Naturally, battery regeneration is also employed to recover energy to the battery when the car is slowing down, at which point the electric motor acts as a generator. The electric motor, which generates 103 pound-feet of torque from a standstill, works as a booster to support the TDI engine when full system power is required. Together, the TDI engine and electric motor deliver maximum torque of 103 lb-ft along with 68 hp in boosting mode.

As well as boosting the TDI engine under hard acceleration, the electric motor can also power the XL1 on its own for a distance of up to 31 miles. In this mode, the TDI engine is decoupled from the drivetrain by disengaging a clutch, and is shut down. Meanwhile, the clutch on the gearbox side remains closed, so the DSG is fully engaged with the electric motor. The driver can choose to drive the XL1 in pure electric mode, provided that the battery is sufficiently charged, by pressing a button on the instrument panel is pressed.

Restarting the TDI engine is a very smooth process. While driving, the electric motor's rotor is sped up and is very quickly coupled to the clutch in a process known as "pulse starting". This accelerates the diesel engine to the required speed and starts it, so the driver hardly notices the transition. In certain operating conditions, the load of the TDI engine can be shifted so that it operates at its most favorable efficiency level. The gears in the DSG transmission are also always selected with the aim of minimizing energy usage.

The 0.8-liter two-cylinder TDI engine was derived from a 1.6-liter four-cylinder Clean Diesel powerplant, so it shares the 88-mm bore spacing and a bore and stroke of 81.0 mm x 80.5 mm. The XL1's engine also shares key internal modifications for reducing emissions, which include specially formed piston recesses for multiple injection and individual orientation of the injection jets. The common-rail diesel's smooth running properties were transferred to the two-cylinder engine, aided by a balancer shaft that is driven by and turns at the same speed as the crankshaft.

The TDI's aluminum crankcase is constructed with extremely low tolerances, which in turn leads to very low frictional losses. Exhaust gas recirculation, an oxidation catalytic converter, and a diesel particulate filter are used in order to minimize emissions: the XL1's engine is already compliant with the Euro-6 emissions standard.

The vehicle's cooling system is also designed to maximize efficiency. The mechanical water pump actively cools the engine only when operating conditions require it. The system includes automatically controlled air intakes at the front of the vehicle to reduce drag. A second electric water pump, used only when needed, circulates a separate lower temperature loop to cool the starter generator and the power electronics. This thermal management strategy also contributes towards reduced fuel consumption.

Low Drag, New Form

The XL1 uses scissor doors that are reminiscent of a high-end sports car's. Because they are hinged low on the A-pillars and just above the windshield in the roof frame, they swivel upwards and slightly forwards as well. The doors also extend far into the roof. When they are opened, they create an exceptionally large amount of entry and exit space.

The XL1's lines are very similar to the 2009 L1's, but the car has a more aggressive appearance thanks to its greater width. The body design was uncompromisingly designed to follow the laws of aerodynamics, narrowing from front to rear to reduce aerodynamic drag. Viewed from above, the XL1's shape resembles a dolphin's.

In profile, the roofline traces an arc from the A-pillar back to the rear. The rear wheels are fully covered to prevent turbulence, while airflow around the wheelarches is optimized by small spoilers in front of and behind the wheels. There are no door mirrors: these are replaced by small cameras known as e-mirrors (digital outside mirrors) that send images to two displays inside the vehicle. Polycarbonate side windows weigh about a third less than conventional windows: a pane of glass on XL1 would weigh 16.5 pounds, whereas the polycarbonate ones scale just 11.5 lb each.

The front of the XL1 no longer sports a classical radiator grille, but it's still identifiably a Volkswagen, thanks to the predominance of horizontal lines that is part of the Volkswagen "Design DNA". Specifically, a black cross-stripe combines with the energy-efficient dual LED headlights to form a continuous band. The actual air intake for cooling the TDI engine, battery, and interior is located in the lower front section and has electrically controlled louvers. The narrow turn signals also use LED technology; these "L" shaped lights follow a horizontal line beneath the headlights and a vertical line with the wheelarches. Even though the front end is completely different to any other Volkswagen products, it can immediately be recognized as a Volkswagen design by its clean lines.

The design takes an entirely new path at the rear, but the brand values of precision and quality are clearly evident. Four characteristics stand out: First, there is the dolphin body form that narrows towards the rear with highly defined trailing edges, for optimal aerodynamics. Second, there is the coupe-shaped roofline that doesn't have a rear windshield. Merging into the roofline is the large rear trunklid/hood that covers the drive unit and4.2 cubic feet of luggage space. Third, the strip of red LEDs frames the rear section at the top and on the sides and incorporates the reversing lights, taillights, rear foglamps and brake lights. Fourth, a black diffuser exhibits a near seamless transition to the full underbody.

High-tech running gear

The running gear marries lightweight construction with maximum safety. The front suspension is by upper and lower control arms, with semi-trailing arms at the back. The suspension is very compact and offers a high level of driving comfort. In key areas, the running gear components mount directly to the CFRP monocoque.

The weight of the running gear is reduced by the use of many lightweight components. Aluminum is used for parts such as the suspension arms, brake calipers, dampers, and steering gear housing; the anti-roll bars are made from CFRP; the brake discs are ceramic; the wheels are case in magnesium alloy; and the steering wheel body is plastic.

The car is also designed to reducing rolling resistance, with friction-optimized wheel bearings and driveshafts, as well as ultra-low rolling resistance Michelin tires, sized 115/80 up front and 145/55 R16 at the back. But all this efficiency isn't at the expense of safety: the XL1 has an anti-lock braking system (ABS) and a stability control program (ESC).

Manufacturing

In Northern Germany, Europe's largest carmaker has set up a completely new line for the XL1, handcrafting the cars largely from carbonfiber reinforced polymer (CFRP). The XL1 is manufactured by Volkswagen Osnabrück GmbH. In what was once the Karmann factory, around 1800 employees produce cars such as the Golf Cabriolet and the new Porsche Boxster.

The production processes implemented in Osnabrück are highly innovative and unique, because there were no previous examples of the individual production steps anywhere in the world. Over the long term, other Volkswagen Group brands will also benefit from these numerous innovations.

Production In Detail

Stage I: "Bodyshell frame"

Production of the XL1 begins with delivery of the CFRP monocoque, which is produced by a supplier in Austria using the RTM process. The manufacturing process itself was developed over several years in close cooperation with Volkswagen. In Osnabrück, the monocoque is mounted to an assembly support plate, where the body is built without doors or opening panels. This first body production stage is referred to as the "bodyshell frame". At this station, all parts are moved to their prescribed design positions by special fixtures in order to maintain the tight manufacturing tolerances.

The monocoque's various interior and exterior surfaces are pretreated in advance to attain tight gaps and smooth surfaces, which is particularly important because the designers wanted the high-tech CFRP to be visible. The individual CFRP components are joined to one another in the "bodyshell frame" by gluing them together.

Over the further course of production stage I, the trunk area is aligned with the water channel, then glued and fastened with screws. In addition, all structural and exterior panels (rear cross-members and the front and rear side panels) are positioned and screwed via a sled fixture. Employees check and document the dimensional tolerances of the entire assembly as the final step of every production stage. Each individual part of the XL1 is also documented with a serial number and its production history.

Stage 2: Door assembly

In parallel with production stage I, the two scissor doors are produced separately. Volkswagen developed its own tool for this, which is used to fit the doors to adjoining body parts with millimetric precision before they are fitted to the monocoque. This is the only way to ensure that the defined joint seam dimensions and uniform transitions between the surfaces are met when they are installed. Unlike sheetmetal, carbon parts cannot be reshaped afterwards.

Stage 3: Body assembly

At the third production station, the bodyshell frame is placed on a new fixture. Here, all body parts-scissor doors, hood, engine cover, and front bumper-are assembled to achieve the specified gaps and flush mounting. Adjustment of the doors is a special challenge, because they require a precise fit to the roof and side body surfaces.

Stage 4: Paint

The paint process itself was specially formulated for the XL1, with a really thin covering to reduce the weight of the vehicle. To meet the Class A paint quality standard, a special fleece layer or resin film is added to the parts as a cover coat in the RTM process. Compared to conventional CFRP paints used in the industry, this yields a weight reduction of more than 50 percent. This innovative CFRP painting process was the result of intensive research by the Volkswagen Technical Development Centre in Wolfsburg and testing by experts at the Osnabrück plant.

The paint itself consists of three layers. The filler/primer is followed by the base paint (the solid color) and the final layer of clearcoat, which provides a high level of scratch and UV resistance. In the interior, either decorative "matt pearl gray" paint is applied or a matt clear coat on visible CFRP parts such as the sills.

Stage 5: Front section

Following painting, all components are transported to final assembly. The first step here is to join the front body section to the prefabricated floorpan. The floorpan module consists of components such as the control arm front suspension, anti-roll bar, a small 12-volt battery for the vehicle's electrical system, and the ceramic front brakes. Also integrated in the front of the car is the high-voltage battery for the plug-in hybrid system.

The air conditioning unit is typically mounted in the vehicle's cabin, but this isn't possible in the XL1 for packaging reasons. Therefore, it's installed in a special insulated capsule in the car's front section. Automatic testing of the vehicle's electrical system and preliminary startup of all electronic components are also performed at the ITC (Startup and Test Centre) in this stage.

Stage 6: Rear section and interior

Merging the drive unit with the body occurs after front-end assembly. The two-cylinder TDI engine, electric motor, and the seven-speed DSG transmission are installed in the rear section of the XL1. The rear suspension and driveshafts are installed at the same time.

In parallel, the cockpit is installed at this station. Due to the small production volumes, no provisions were made for preassembling the XL1 cockpit: instead, all the individual parts are mounted inside the vehicle superstructure. The dashboard itself is made of a 1.4-mm-thick molded woodfiber that is produced in a special pressing process.

Stage 7: Windshield, doors, and wheels

The XL1 now takes on more of its final shape. After assembly of the drive unit, the laminated glass windscreen, which is only 3.2 mm thick, is installed. The doors are re-fitted and the engine cover is also re-mounted on the car. Last but not least, the XL1 gets its magnesium wheels and low-rolling resistance tires.

Stage 8: Final assembly of the doors

The scissor doors are the most complex add-on components of the XL1 body. After installing the painted door and integrating the window mechanisms, special fixtures are used to glue the polymer side windows into place. The largest part of the windows is permanently joined to the exterior door skin for packaging reasons, while a segment of the lower area of the side windows can be opened. Finally, the reversing cameras are placed in their housings, and the e-mirrors are mounted to the door.

Stage 9: Startup

First, the entire high-voltage system is checked. For this purpose, "simulated" isolation faults are introduced to test the system's emergency shutoff functionality. The next step is to start up the TDI engine; all the actuators and sensors are checked. In parallel, employees adjust the camera-based e-mirrors using a special computer program. After all systems have been started up, a check is made of all electrical equipment, according to a precisely observed list.

XL1 SPECIFICATIONS

  • Body                                        Carbonfiber reinforced polymer monocoque and panels
  • Length x width x height              153.1 in x 65.6 in x 45.4 in
  • Wheelbase                                87.6 in
  • Drive system                            Plug-in diesel hybrid, rear-wheel drive
  • Engine                                     TDI Clean Diesel, two cylinder
  • Capacity                                   830 cc
  • Output                                      48 hp, 89 lb-ft
  • Electric motor                           27 hp, 103 lb-ft
  • System output                          68 hp, 103 lb-ft
  • Transmission                             Seven-speed DSG automatic
  • Battery type                              5.5 kWh lithium-ion
  • Weight                                     1753 lb
  • Performance/fuel economy
  • Max speed                              99 mph (electronically limited)
  • European fuel consumption     261 mpg
  • C02 emissions                       21 g/km
  • EV range                                31 miles
  • EV/TDI range                  More than 310 miles (10 liter fuel tank)

More Information on Think Blue and Volkswagen's Environmental Initiatives.

Sustainable mobility:  Volkswagen has a multi-faceted approach.

The Volkswagen TDI lineup of the Passat, Jetta, Golf and Touareg offer exceptional fuel efficiency without sacrifice.

Moving into hybrids and e-mobility with the already launched Touareg hybrid, Jetta turbo hybrid and soon to be launched electric Golf.

Our electric vehicle strategy is on schedule globally. 2013 is the key year for electric mobility. First, the brand starts into the age of pure electric driving by introducing the all-electric Up! and as shown in Frankfurt, the e-Golf, which will be based on the next generation (A7) Golf MQB platform.

Volkswagen is constantly evaluating new technologies, powertrains and clean, efficient fuel strategies including our diesel technology. We felt it was more important to do this right than to rush something to market.

VOLKSWAGEN'S THINK BLUE. INITIATIVE AIMS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERSHIP

Volkswagen to be globally leading automotive brand in terms of ecology by 2018 "Think Blue." sustainability strategy sets itself apart by holistic approach

Herndon, VA  - Protection of the environment is one of the most vital topics of our time. Volkswagen faces up to its responsibility as a carmaker. Its attitude on ecological sustainability is embodied in the "Think Blue." initiative - with the goal of becoming the ecologically leading car brand worldwide by 2018. Among other things, Volkswagen focuses on the question of how mobility and ecologically minded behavior can be reconciled.

The "Think Blue." sustainability strategy differs from similar projects in its holistic approach: It reaches far beyond products and technologies, is inspiring and motivating for both customers and the interested public to participate in it and encompasses multi-faceted collaborative projects with a broad range of environmental organizations. Naturally, Volkswagen as an automaker puts the focus on innovative, environmentally friendly products and technical solutions. These include, for instance, our BlueMotion models - particularly low-emission or electrically driven vehicles - yet also new mobility ideas such as the "Quicar" car-sharing project.

With the "Think Blue. Factory." program, Volkswagen has also set ambitious goals for itself in terms of production: Production in all Volkswagen plants is to become up to 25% more environmentally friendly by 2018, i.e. the values for energy consumption, generated waste, air-borne emissions and water consumption are to be reduced by this figure. Volkswagen already today sets new benchmarks with "Think Blue. Factory." on an international level. The Chattanooga plant in the U.S., for instance, is the first car plant in the world that has been given the renowned LEED Platinum Award for outstanding energy efficiency in 2011.

"Think Blue." also pursues the goal of raising the awareness of the greater public for sustainable behavior and achieving a change in the ways of thinking in a joint effort. So our credo is straightforward: Environmental protection is fun and is possible without sacrifice - everybody can make a contribution in his or her everyday life. Thus we raise the awareness for a fuel-efficient driving style in a playful way. With "Think Blue.," Volkswagen will also enter the public discourse on sustainable mobility in the future with ideas contests, international youth workshops and other initiatives.

"Think Blue." also includes numerous cooperative projects with environmental associations. We place great value on addressing the most pressing challenges in terms of ecological sustainability in each country individually. In Mexico and Spain, prevention of soil erosion has priority; the protection of biodiversity takes precedence in South Africa; our long-standing cooperation with Naturschutzbund Deutschland was given the "International Sponsoring Award" as a successful example for credible and sustainable cooperation in environmental protection. "Think Blue." has been the umbrella concept for the long-standing activities of Volkswagen in terms of ecological sustainability since spring 2010; it is designed for the long term and has been established in 35 countries.

The name of "Think Blue." Is based on the legendary 1960s slogan "Think Small," which referred to the democratization of mobility through the Volkswagen Beetle. In the same way, Volkswagen wants to play a pioneering role in the challenges of the future and make possible efficient and sustainable mobility for everybody.

Sustainable mobility is therefore not just a technologicalchallenge. It is also becoming an increasingly important economic and social factor. For these reasons, among others, we at Volkswagen have committed ourselves to the most extensive ecological restructuring process in our Group's history: We plan to make each new vehicle generation on average 10 to 15 per cent more efficient. We are promoting environmentally friendly technologies all over the world - especially in China, India, and Brazil.  We are also restructuring our plants to make them 25 per cent more environmentally friendly by 2018. This means: Reducing energy and water consumption, waste, and emissions per vehicle produced by 25 per cent. We are fully committed to achieving these objectives, even in difficult economic times. Furthermore, as Europe's largest car manufacturer, we want to set new standards. That is why we are working hard to achieve our goal of reducing the CO2 emissions of our European fleet of new vehicles to 95 grams/km by 2020.

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