[UPDATE 9/15/09]: Volkswagen’s Diesel-Hybrid L1 Concept Gets 170 MPG, Available by 2013
This is what a team of engineers can do when challenged to push the limits of fuel efficiency and technology. You may have already heard of VW’s 1-liter car, but take a closer look. It’s a sports-economy concept car produced a few years ago by VW engineers, to answer one big question: could they build a car that consumes less than 3 liters of fuel for every 100 km traveled?
It turns out they could, but they didn’t stop there. Instead, VW blew by that goal to create a car that uses only 1 liter of fuel for every 100 km. That’s 285 MPG.
To accomplish such a feat, VW’s engineers had to go back to the drawing board and start from scratch. They knew that fuel efficiency depends on aerodynamics and weight, so they created a bullet-shaped, ultra-lightweight (640 lbs) carbon-fiber car powered by a new, completely redesigned diesel engine. To save more weight, they didn’t even paint it:
Proper aerodynamics were key to the low fuel consumption. VW engineers knew they needed a small frontal area. This led to its unusually narrow, bullet-shaped body where the passenger sits behind the driver. As well, the car features an aircraft-like canopy, enclosed rear wheels, special flat carbon-fibre front wheel covers, and an aerodynamic underpan. Even the side cooling air inlets only open when the engine needs cooling, and otherwise stay closed. . .the 1-Litre-Car has an amazingly low coefficient of drag of 0.16 (a typical car has a drag coefficient of approximately 0.30 ).
Story Continues & More pictures -> Most Fuel Efficient Car: 285 MPG, Not A Hybrid