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VW Abandons its 1-liter Car Project


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.


john hemmers

I agree: Volkswagen should definitly reconsider plans to mass produce this car - carbon fiber technology made lots of progress in the last years: bridges can now be build with comparable cost to steel alternatives.

Global warming is a hot issue and increasingly a matter of conscience; a car like this is simply needed.


People suggest that VW should make their 200 + miles /gallon technology available.

There IS no new technology. Period.

The fuel consumtion of a car (or other vehicle) depends solely on three things:
- The rolling resistance of the wheels.
- The wind resistance of the body.
- The efficiency of the engine.

- Rolling resistance is reduce by weight
- Wind resistance by the frontal area of the body and by the wind resistance coefficient.
- Engine efficiency is increased by efficient designs by not operating a extreme part load.
The last can be achieved by a small engine that is working hard even at normal vehicle speeds.

To get high fuel mileage the car has to be light, be small and use a rather small hp engine. All that was reflected in the 1L car by VW. Anybody can do it. No NEW technology is at work here.
Carbon fiber reduces weight. The vehicle was small, seating in in tandem and the engine has small power allowing just 75 mph. These are all the secrets there are.


About the "there are no secrets" thing:

Good points, John.
however, you forgot to mention gearing. My Suzuki motorcycle would get a lot more MPG if it had a higher Overdrive gear. Craig Vetter had a series of fuel economy motorcycle contests back in the 1980's. One of those contestants achieved over 400 MPG at highway speeds. Mr. Vetter stated much of the same things you did. He also stressed the importance of gearing up the transmission.

harold johnson

If one takes the higher heating value of diesel fuel to be somewhere around 19,200 BTU/Lb, at the upper limits, and converts this to BHP, you arrive at a theoretical power limit of about 45 BHP. This is not the real engine BHP, because all of the mechanical, combustion and waste heat inefficiencies of the diesel engine have to be subtracted from the theoretical number established by the heat available in the fuel itself. Therefore, I get a little suspicious about the commentator who drives a 1.2 TDI Audi who claims a 40BHP and an average fuel usage of 83 MPG. What is his weight load, what is his average speed, and how fast is he accelerating, while getting an average of 83 MPG? Most likely, the Audi claim of 40 BHP is accurate, but at what specific fuel consumption rate. For instance, I drive a 250 HP V8 Ford Mustang, but can average about 40 MPG if I drive at 1000 engine RPM (50MPH) in high gear on a straight flat blacktop surface, with no passengers or load and with tire air pressure on the high side, so driving conditions can drastically effect fuel mileage. I am pulling for the car companies to get their stuff together (each one has a piece of the puzzle already) so that the target of a usable and affordable 100 MPG four seat car can be attained. (Sure its do-able, just not at a rated engine power much beyond 25 BHP.) What happens when you combine modern European diesel engines, body composites, and hybrid technology? I have a feeling that we will soon find out, and we will all be pleasently surprised.

Rob Weir

The key to changing the course of the established business models is to change the rules (It's less risky to do this slightly if possible).

The key to mass production is the economy of scale.

We could cut out the development time for this sort of design to achieve the 'economies of scale', and bring it to mass production more directly....

Put your money where your mouth is - If I can build a sensible (lower tech) version of this car to meet say 80% of its performance goals (Weight/ MPG/ Acceleration /Max Speed) - how much would you pay? What is 150 MPG worth to you in fully enclosed 2 seater format ?

Answer me 2 questions if you're serious

1) Make me an offer - when we get to level of order that I can achieve (with 95% probability) I'll start a company and take you up on your commitment (it is a commitment - you need to be bound by your word).

2) More simply If I could supply 10 million at 10,000 USD each - would you buy one (or two). I know I would

Answer one or both these questions (state which)
- and lets build a better world


you know... they say that the 1-liter to expensive and isnt fast enough for interstate use? what about residential use? commuter car? work vehicle? most people i know dont live so far from work or shop so far from home that they have to use the interstate anyway.besides at least 80% of the speed limits where i live are 55 mph i think the top is 60 mph so a 75mph vehicle fits just fine here.ok so it is a $25,000 car,so what? most cars are.look at it this way... you pay anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 for hybrids that get what? 30/60 mph? and VW doesnt think that it would sell? 264 mph over 30 to 60 ? give me the 264 anyday!! and the 31% drop in profit? of course youre going to have a loss in profits when you refuse to sell your cars. hey??? if volkswagen doesnt want the car... ill take it!!! give it to me!!!


With my personal gasoline usage I pay the price of the onle-liter car for gasoline in 5 years.


I would happily use a VW 1L for driving to work etc, so long as it comes with a free Hemi Cuda for the weekend :)

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