VW to relaunch ‘one-litre’ eco car

Published: 30 June 2008 Updated: 26 January 2015

Remember Volkswagen’s ‘one-litre’ car, capable of one litre per 100km, or a scarcely credible 282mpg? Well VW has approved top-secret plans to build the limited-edition fuel miser in 2010, CAR Online can reveal. The tiny, grey cigar-shaped curiosity was a triumphal hit at the 2002 annual meeting in Hamburg and now – finally – it’s heading for production.

At the time the chairman of VW’s supervisory board predicted that the super-economical two-seater would go into production as soon as the cost of the carbonfibre monocoque dropped from €35,000 (£28,000) to €5000 (£4000), which he estimated would happen in 2012. Now the VW 1L will hit the market two years ahead of schedule, in 2010.

A VW that does 282mpg! What’ll she cost?

The asking price? That’s a game of political posturing. Volumes will be restricted to keep costs under control and, according to one well placed insider CAR spoke to, anything from €20,000 (£16,000) to €30,000 (£24,000) is possible. Expect a large amount of subsidy from VW, which hopes to reap a slew of headlines in the current climate.

Somewhat surprisingly, the basic vehicle concept of the one-litre VW (pictured) hasn’t changed that much over the past six years. To keep the frontal area as small as possible, the passenger still sits behind the driver. To ensure optimum structural rigidity, the aircraft-style canopy door concept will also be retained. Very Top Gun.

Click ‘Next’ to find out more about the fuel-saving tech on the VW one-litre carThe VW one-litre car looks pretty slippery

Indeed it is. To minimize the drag coefficient, cameras replace the door mirrors and the narrow, teardrop-shaped silhouette adopts various active lightweight aerodynamic elements.

Instead of the single-cylinder engine originally mooted, a new two-cylinder unit will offer more refinement, more torque and more power. Despite the increasingly stringent emission requirements, a turbodiesel is again likely to get the nod over the even cleaner breathing FSI unit.

With assistance from key systems suppliers, the 300kg featherweight is likely to be assembled in VW´s own prototype shop, which has a maximum capacity of no more than 1000 units per year.

300 kilos? So it’s a proper stripped-out eco special?

To offset the greater thirst of the bigger engine, the engineers are expected to fit VW’s complete mild hybrid kit which would permit intermittent zero-emissions, full-electric operation.

But there are some gadgets, as you’d expect if you shelled out the best part of 30 grand for a VW. Basic safety kit will include ABS/ESP, a driver’s airbag, sequential motorbike-style transmission as well as LED head- and taillights.

That lightweight body means there’s no need for bulk-adding niceties such as power steering and power brakes, while air-con will be optional. So Friends of the Earth types should not only bring lots of cash, but also a powerful deodorant.

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel