At the 42nd Annual Meeting of Stockholders of Volkswagen AG in Hamburg,
the most economical car in the world is presented: the 1-litre car. The
prototype, which until now has been kept closely under wraps, and which
many people never believed could be built, was driven under its own
power from Wolfsburg to the Annual Meeting in Hamburg. Before the
Annual Meeting, the current Chairman of the Board of Management, Dr.
Ferdinand Pi�ch, drove this research vehicle to Hamburg from the
company's headquarters at an average fuel consumption of 0.89 litres
per 100 kilometres. This has once against impressively demonstrated
Volkswagen's position at the cutting edge of modern technology.
The objective of developing a roadworthy vehicle that consumes just 1.0
litre of fuel per 100 kilometres could not be achieved through
compromise. All existing technical solutions were examined, and in
close cooperation with numerous suppliers, replaced by better, and
principally lighter versions. The result is a vehicle that looks more
like a sports car than a typical research vehicle.
The conceptual necessity for a small frontal area led to an unusually
narrow and very flat body form being chosen. The body was developed in
a wind tunnel, is 3.47 metres long, but just 1.25 metres wide and just
over a metre in height, and is made completely of carbon fibre
composites. To save weight, it is of course not painted. The
carbon-fibre-reinforced outer skin is tensioned over a spaceframe that
is not made of aluminium, but rather of magnesium, which is even
The 1-litre car is powered by a 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 0.3-litre
engine are of an aluminium monobloc construction. The naturally
aspirated, direct-injection diesel engine employs advanced
high-pressure unit injection technology to generate 6.3 kW (8.5 bhp) at
4,000 rpm. This gives the vehicle, which weights just 290 kg, an
astonishingly lively temperament.
Fuel consumption is a mere 0.99 litre per 100 kilometres. With a
6.5-litre tank, this gives a range of some 650 kilometres without
Due to the restriction of space, it was not possible to adapt an
existing gearbox. For this reason, a compact, automated 6-speed gearbox
is employed, which is controlled from a turn switch in the cockpit.
Running gear made of lightweight alloy, tyres that offer optimised
rolling resistance and 16-inch wheels made of extremely lightweight
composite material perfectly complement the economical drive system.
The interior is sportingly simple in design, yet offers enough space
for two people, who can comfortably get in after folding back the
turret-like gullwing door. An extremely lightweight construction has
also been employed for the seats. The seat frames are made of
magnesium, and firm, yet comfortable fabric covers are used instead of
a classic upholstery.
Despite the lightweight construction of all components, safety has been
a major element in all phases of the development of the 1-litre car.
For example, the concept vehicle's safety equipment includes anti-lock
brakes, ESP electronic stability program and a driver's airbag.
Deformation elements at the front end and the spaceframe construction
provide impact and roll-over protection comparable to that of a GT
The sports-car-like design demonstrates that Volkswagen's 1-litre car
is not a spartan research vehicle, but a high-tech special vehicle. It
starts with the special seating arrangement. The driver and passenger
sit centrally as if in a monoposto, but in tandem. The mid-engine is
installed transversely in front of the rear axle. With its complex
design (double wishbones at front, DeDion suspension at rear) and
combined with the low centre of gravity and low overall vehicle weight,
the lightweight running gear results in very agile handling.
The project team have impressively succeeded in combining driving pleasure with a level of fuel consumption never seen before.
The 1-litre car also incorporates numerous details of a practical and
convenient nature. For example, there is an easily accessible stowage
compartment with a capacity of 80 litres under a separate flap in the
rear; a reversing camera that helps when manoeuvring; automatic
locking/unlocking of the gullwing door and a starter button in the
cockpit that together allow keyless operation.
The concept of the 1-litre car - four wheels, low height, with two
seats in tandem - gives an idea for a possible new family of vehicles,
which could cover new requirements ranging from the ultra-economical
vehicle, through the low-lost everyday touring vehicle for young people
to the high-performance sports supercar.