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VW Abandons its 1-liter Car Project

15 April 2005

Vw_econ_prototype

The Telegraph (UK) reports that Volkswagen is cancelling its long-running project to develop a super-economy car: the “1-liter” car. The name comes from the design point of consuming 1 liter of fuel per 100 kilometers.

First revealed to the public at the VW annual general meeting in 2002, the prototype then consumed just 0.89 liters of diesel per 100 kilometers (264 mpg) on a demonstration drive.

The 1-liter car uses a 0.3-liter, one-cylinder diesel engine, centrally positioned in front of the rear axle and combined with an automated direct shift gearbox. The crankcase and cylinder head of the engine are of an aluminium monoblock construction. The naturally aspirated, direct-injection diesel engine generates 6.3 kW (8.44 hp) at 4,000 rpm, with a top speed of 120 km/h (75 mph). Since the vehicle weights just 290 kg, it is “astonishingly lively”.

The prototype was a testbed for a number of different concepts that VW had hoped it could commercialize in a new family of vehicles, ranging from the ultra-economical, through the low-cost everyday touring vehicle, to the high-performance sports supercar.

But Volkswagen now says that it could not produce an ultra-economical car for less than €20,000 ($25,900)—too expensive for its target market.

The VW Lupo 3L TDI diesel, the company’s most fuel-efficient car, consumes 3 liters of fuel (“3L”) per 100 km (78.4 mpg US) and starts at €15,100 ($19,500).

With a drop in profits last year of 31%, VW is preparing to cut €4 billion ($5.2 billion) in costs by the end of 2005.

April 15, 2005 in Diesel, Fuel Efficiency, Research | Permalink | Comments (33) | TrackBack (0)

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I wonder if VW has explored all their options with the 1L. Using their common business model, it makes sense to cancel, but imagine tweaking the 1L(say run it on BIODEISEL for one example and market it as such) just a little and you would sell 100000 easy the first year of production! Did anybody at VW notice the left field surprise from TOYOTA? The coming years will reveal a few surprises for the run of the mill auto manufacturers. Where is the vision when we need one? Where is Dr. Porche of 2005? Come VW, the 1L may be your ticket to outsmart the SMART? the PRIUS? Please have a vision, keep it alive!

I see Hybrid as the ultimate vehicle technology and thought its innovative engine could apply there. Still, it's unbelievable that a 264 mpg car isn't marketable. Off to the oil wars we go! Trah lah lah!

This does seem like a remarkable achievement, and it seems that there ought to be some sort of commercial possibilities for this technology. Granted, at $26k for what would have to be a pitifully slow two-seater, it's not going to sell that well (although it would certainly sell some). But if they built a somewhat larger version that could seat four, even at the cost of some fuel efficiency, it seems to me they could probably sell quite a few around that price. But what do I know...

Wow! If VW is giving up on this project, then they really don't the sheer numbers of greenies (like moi)out there that would buy that car. We here in the USA are sick of oil wars. A vehicle with 264 mpg economy and seats two is all that is needed. The thing is fast enough for any highway in the USA. If it can carry 3 bags of groceries, it'd be the best 2nd car one could have. Come on, VW, keep this thing alive and bring it to market! If we can use it here, then I am sure that Europe has an even more crying need for it.

All VW would have to do is sell the Lupo in the USA, & many many people would be very happy with it. It is not a technical problem, just a marketing one!

I first heard of this car at a green expo on 5/1/05.
It's sad to see it has already been killed. I was hoping the www would say when the next iteration could be expected or better yet, what the car they were bringing to market wsa like. The Mini should be proof there is a niche even in the SUV crazed US to market somthing unique.

I can empathise with all of you on the urgent need for a car like this, but from a technically weighted standpoint, their termination of the project is justified.
First of all not many people want to drive a car that looks too alienlike, look at the insight and see how its doing compared to the prius. Both the insight and this car share the same too costly, too impractical problem.
The chasis of this car is constructed in magnesium and carbon fibre, thats raises costs considerably. The powerplant is also ultra loud and uncomforting from roadtests I've read. Getting in an out is like getting into a lemans race car, and the list goes on. VW abandoning the project does not mean that they're not working on something else.

For a commercially viable car with the media and customer grabbing response of the prius, I would suggest a five seater in the vein of the Audi A2 made from cheaper steel insted of aluminum( The A2 wasn't much lighter than its steel rivals as aluminums advantage is only seen in much heavier cars like the A8 and Jaguar XJ). Increase room for passengers while retaining the A2's remarkable Cd of 0.24 or better improving it to maybe 0.22. A reworked version of the A2 3L's 1.2L engine using 3rd generation commonrail instead of pump injection coupled with start-stop function.I picture the final product to weigh about 1200kg, have 85-90hp, 0-60mph in 10s, fuel economy of 80mpg and a price lower than the prius. This would give VW a halo car like the prius with all the media attension while being marketable.

The Audi A2 has about the same interior volume as the Toyota Prius2 and taking easily out the two back seats you have room for everything . I have driven the Prius2 the A2 gasoline and the A2 1.2 Diesel . The 1.2 A2 needed 3L diesel fuel on 100 Km the A2 with 75 horsepower and a more sportive Style of driving 6.5 L gasoline and the Toyota Prius2 6.9 gasoline on 100km . Its funny to see the dieselmeter on the Audi A2 1.2 going down sometimes to 1.7 L on 100 km . What is missing in the A2 1.2 is the particulate filter for the exhaustion . So i think Audi has made a big failure stopping the production of this car as its time is just coming . But as i hear in two years there should be a new A2 - hope as progressiv as the original car

more.........!

It would be so easy to cut the cost for this car in half.

VW is owned to 50% by the German government. So, if the German government wanted they could introduce an eco-ticket system by which manufacturers of cars with high consumption (say over 10L per 100km) would need to purchase eco-tickets, while manufacturers of low consumption cars (say below 3L per 100km) would be entitled to issue those tickets. The government wouldn't need to handle any monies at all, and it would not create any bureaucracy either. All they would have to do is set and maintain the rules.

For example, each car manufactured with a consumption of more than 10L would require its manufacturer to purchase one eco-ticket for each liter consumption above 10L. A car with a consumption of 12L would need two tickets to be manufactured. Likewise, for each 1L VW was to produce, they could issue 2 tickets (3-1=2) and sell them. The value of those tickets would depend on supply and demand. Thus is only very vew cars below 3L are produced, then there will only be very few tickets on the market while all other vendors would need to purchase tickets to produce 10L+ cars. The supply would be low and the demand would be high, thereby making the tickets very expensive, say 5000 Euro or more per ticket. This would then subsidise the sales price of the 1L car.

In the short term a high end Merc or BMW would become 10 or 20 K Euros more expensive, but the 1L car would be available for half the cost or less. In the mid and long term, manufacturers of cars with high consumption would also want to produce low consumption cars so they can issue their own tickets.

This system is already in use in green energy trading. Why not for green cars?

The german government does have such "eco-tickets" they have put 20eurocent eco-tax on each liter of fuel and in 2008 they want to limit the overall co2(140g/km) emission of the sold cars from an automobile company.
So let's say mercedes is going have problems because they are selling a lot of cars big high consumption, whereas VW selling a lot small cars with small tdi engines, wont have problems.

Well, I am interested in the engine and transmission componants as possible conversions on already produced vehicles in the marketplace. It seems that everytime we get a break at looking at future green cars, they are killed. So, if VW doesn't want to produce their version, why not allow other companies and the public domain the ability to continue with this venture at their own risks. It is like saying we have a vaccine for a disease, but its too costly to produce, so let's just let the world continue to suffer, instead of being visionaries, and allowing the people to find a resolution to production costs and slow the suffering. In science, researchers would be happy enough to get recognition for their strivings. I am not big on conspiracy theories, but the super fuel effiecient cars seem to be harnassed from production.

I drive one of the only A2 1.2 TDI's in the UK. Alas it was never sold here inspite of it's huge eco merits - far better than a Prius - less fuel consumption, less CO2 emissions and no nasty batteries to contend with if the Firemen had to cut you out of an auto accident. Bought it s/h in Germany and it's been wonderful using on average 83 mpg - even managed 103 mpg on a 28 mile commute in rush hour nottinghamshire. As for Aluminium vrs steel - it's all about cost per unit - the A2 can't be sold for as much as an A8 - and wouldn't you rather a machine that didn't corrode away as quickly as a steel car? It has 40 BHP in eco mode but 120 lbft of torque - as much as my old MR2 mk1 - so overtaking is fun - it's no slouch through the gears - and much better than an Insight up hills - plus it takes 4 people and their luggage. Come on Audi get on with making a replacement - the market is ripe - we've a long way before Fuel Cells rule the planet! see: http://www.greenconsumerguide.com/audi_a2_tdi.php

I drive one of the only A2 1.2 TDI's in the UK. Alas it was never sold here inspite of it's huge eco merits - far better than a Prius - less fuel consumption, less CO2 emissions and no nasty batteries to contend with if the Firemen had to cut you out of an auto accident. Bought it s/h in Germany and it's been wonderful using on average 83 mpg - even managed 103 mpg on a 28 mile commute in rush hour nottinghamshire. As for Aluminium vrs steel - it's all about cost per unit - the A2 can't be sold for as much as an A8 - and wouldn't you rather a machine that didn't corrode away as quickly as a steel car? It has 40 BHP in eco mode but 120 lbft of torque - as much as my old MR2 mk1 - so overtaking is fun - it's no slouch through the gears - and much better than an Insight up hills - plus it takes 4 people and their luggage. Come on Audi get on with making a replacement - the market is ripe - we've a long way before Fuel Cells rule the planet! see: http://www.greenconsumerguide.com/audi_a2_tdi.php

I drive one of the only A2 1.2 TDI's in the UK. Alas it was never sold here inspite of it's huge eco merits - far better than a Prius - less fuel consumption, less CO2 emissions and no nasty batteries to contend with if the Firemen had to cut you out of an auto accident. Bought it s/h in Germany and it's been wonderful using on average 83 mpg - even managed 103 mpg on a 28 mile commute in rush hour nottinghamshire. As for Aluminium vrs steel - it's all about cost per unit - the A2 can't be sold for as much as an A8 - and wouldn't you rather a machine that didn't corrode away as quickly as a steel car? It has 40 BHP in eco mode but 120 lbft of torque - as much as my old MR2 mk1 - so overtaking is fun - it's no slouch through the gears - and much better than an Insight up hills - plus it takes 4 people and their luggage. Come on Audi get on with making a replacement - the market is ripe - we've a long way before Fuel Cells rule the planet! see: http://www.greenconsumerguide.com/audi_a2_tdi.php

I too drive the Audi A2 3L in Britain. I'm based in South Yorkshire and am currently averaging 96.3mpg including town work. I can easily top 100mpg on long trips and acheived an incredible 120.2mpg on a door to door trip from Doncaster to Uxbridge, which required a cruising speed of around 55mph down the M1 and M25.

Want to see more on VW

I drive a Lupo 3L. Same engine as the Audi A2 but with all the gadgetry that makes it even more efficient (ECO setting), don't know if that is also on the Audi.
It is a diesel and although it's not as responsive as a petrol engine I love the torque that you can get out of it. Overtaking and getting up a hill are a piece of cake with this.
In fact, if you know the road you can actually drive really fast with this (tiptronic) and on a straight I've managed to get 180km/h (112m/h) with ECO off.
Unfortunately, although I love the idea of all these low usage cars there are inherant problems with them. Right now my car has a strange fault and because there are only about 600 in Holland (where I live) no garage will give me a garantee that they can fix it. I will have to take it to Germany to get fixed. This will undoubtedly be a problem with any car that has too much new technology and too few units running around.
Another issue is that Diesel, although great to drive with and much more efficient than petrol and cheaper in some countries than petrol, produces more polutants. Because of this the Prius has government subsidies and the Lupo doesn't, whereas the Lupo is much more efficient (so much so that it produces less polutants in total). Any car using Diesel is seen as 'Dirty' by governments, even if it were to use biodiesel! So governments won't help them.
This is also why the eco-tickets wouldn't be so simple.
Another issue with making cars very small, like the 1L, is that once the engine is less than 3 cilinders it gets very noisy, (think of model planes or push bikes) so you don't really want to go there.
Where low usage engines/technology would work very well I think is bigger vehicles, since they can afford the higher price tag. Overall the car wouldn't be super efficient but the efficiency improvement would be a lot greater than applying the same changes to an already economic car.

I dug deep to buy a Prius, just to make a statement and be responsible. VW has what it takes: there are hundreds of thousands here who would dig even deeper to wean ourselves off the noxious crude and propel VW into market share orbit.
We hear a lot about "German engineering": well, I don't care about torque, electronics, gadgets, upholstering. I want ONE thing, and ONE thing only from "German Engineeering": a brand-new vision, a radical departure, avantgarde. Be good to the planet, to all your eager customers, to yourselves. Don't live off the past: we don't care about acceleration, horsepower and nonsense like that. Give the world a people's car, now, at any price! I'm saving, I'm ready!

the funny thing about diesel engines is all the technology and design that has been applied to gasoline engines can pretty much be used to make diesels quieter, smoother, and more responsive. but whats great about diesel engines is that they love air, so once these lumbering giants (car makers) finally get off their duffs and start developing small diesel powerplants further. with the use of turbo charging, etc. a small diesel could be made to have a more gasoline enginelike personality. aka; likes to rev. produces hp/torque curves that arent 200% torque over hp. with better fueling curves diesels could learn to rev up, or accellerate with evel less need to dig deeper into the go pedal. all of this could be done right now fairly easily. this isnt the 80s and GM's tanker of a small block converted to diesel duty. design is cutting edge.

the key of course will be figuring out how to speed up the combustion process. the phenomenon where diesels now feel so hesitant to rev past their torque peaks into the real hp zones of engine breathing. the pistons begin travelling faster than the flame front. not nearly as fun for those who like to drive.

I would like to see the US take advantage of this 200 MPG+ technology & make a diesel-hybrid that can run on veggie oils/bio fuels. Indiana is the Ideal place for such an endeavor.

I am very disappointed that we aren't even discussing this technology in the US. What an embarrassment. I think I will send letters to Sen. Richard Lugar & Gov. Mitch Daniels to get their attention on this. It would go perfectly with their already started bio fuels plans:

At the Purdue conference, Gov. Daniels announced that "Indiana will be the leader in next generation biofuels development and production. We will begin to shift the state's production assistance to the cellulosic and biomass fuels of the future."

"The Use of vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignifigant today. But such oils may become in course of time as important as petroleum and the coal tar products of the present time" ~ Rudolph Diesel 1912 (inventor of the diesel engine)

Forgetting the fule for a moment, the whole notion of a small, streamlined 2 seat tandem vehicle is by itself of great potential. Easier parking, lane-splitting, commutting, aerodynamics, and amazing fuel economy and eco efficieny with almost any fuel could create a whole new generation of personal commuter cars that could remove many large SUVs and cars with a single human inside.

a 3l lupo is all you need except for kids -- imagine the loremo on the market and VW and Benz will start going green too as they simply cant afford staying left behind

I've recently developed a 100 MPG microcar, which I call Moonbeam.
You can see details on the website Moonbeamplans.com
As a result, it's clear to me that you don't need great technonogical breakthroughs to get such economy: Just going light and low-powered does the trick.
I frankly think it's a shame that this choice isn't offered to car buyers.

Sitting here in 2007, it looks like the decision to kill the 1 litre car was wrong. If we ever needed a car that could do 100 km per litre it is now! Times have changed since 2001. A lot of people, like me, would gladly pay 26,000$ to buy a high mileage car. Look at all the people flocking to hybrids today with one quarter of the gas mileage. Times have changed. Volkswagen should reconsider plans to mass produce this car. If they reconsider, they should build a big production plant; customers will flock to this car in droves.

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