Volkswagen has a new car in pre-production that, the automaker estimates, could get up to 282 mpg.
That's not a misprint.
The catch? If produced, this would unquestionably be the strangest-looking car on the road.
Autoblog explains, "A few years back, Volkswagen introduced a concept vehicle," known as the VW 1L, "which derived its name from its stated goal of using just one liter of fuel per one-hundred kilometers traveled." The concept "actually beat its lofty goal rather handily as it managed to achieve a miserly 282 miles per gallon in testing. Much of its amazing fuel-saving capability stemmed from its 660 pounds (300 kilograms) curb weight. The concept also featured a single cylinder engine and a 1+1 seating arrangement down the center of the car."
The 1L looks something like the canopy of a jet, with headlights and wheels nearly as thin as bicycle tires. Its body is made from carbon fiber. Its canopy opens to one side, revealing a sparse interior that seats two, with the passenger riding behind the driver. Jalopnik reports, "The car was originally powered by a one-cylinder, one-liter engine, but speculation places a two-cylinder, mild-hybrid turbodiesel under the bonnet of this carbon fiber fuel-sipper. On top of that, the power would be transmitted to the wheels via a motorcycle-style sequential transmission."
That sparse interior doesn't allow for many creature comforts. Autoblog notes, "Safety features like airbags, anti-lock brakes and stability control aren't lacking, but convenience items like air conditioning may be optional."
The U.K.'s Car Magazine reports, "At the time the chairman of VW's supervisory board predicted that the super-economical two-seater would go into production…in 2012. Now the VW 1L will hit the market two years ahead of schedule, in 2010."
Whether the 1L would be sold in the U.S. market isn't yet clear. Not much about this strange car is clear. But Flattrack claims, "It meets all US safety standards."
Because of its light weight, VW says the car doesn't need power steering or brake assist to perform up to the standards of a typical car. In order to streamline the profile, it also doesn't use mirrors -- cameras show the driver what is beside and behind the car.
Are production rumors realistic? Maybe. Multiple sources say production would be limited, and the price is not yet known. Car Magazine notes, "Expect a large amount of subsidy from VW, which hopes to reap a slew of headlines in the current climate."