Volkswagen showcased the XL1 concept, and according to media reports intend to put it into production in 2013. It is a diesel-electric hybrid. If you have read my blog previously then you will know that I am not a fan of hybrids: too many emissions involved in making a car with both ICE and electric components; delays the move away from polluting liquid fuels; maintains our dependency on foreign oil and leaves us economically vulnerable; delays the advent of the electron economy; and so on.
However. The VW XL1 ticks my boxes: it is lightweight with a carbon-fibre shell at only 795 kg (that's only 145 kg more than the all-electric G-Wiz and more than 500 kg less than the Golf); it is highly fuel efficient with a 27 kW motor and an 800 cc diesel engine that offers a range up to an astonishing 313 MPG and 22 miles in pure electric mode (enough for most urban trips); but the number that made me sit up and take notice is this: 24g CO2 / km - that's about 75% less than the cleanest diesels around today and crucially, gets us to the 80% average reduction in CO2 emissions necessary to combat climate change.
It does not end our oil addiction of course, but it makes it manageable and buys us time to develop the electron economy (energy from electricity generated by renewable and nuclear energy sources and the smart grid that will manage it). The XL1 allows motorists who need to frequently travel longer distances to do so without any form of range anxiety. Pure electric cars remain the correct technology for city dwellers and for second cars, but here, for the first time, is a car that offers both extended range and the 80% reduction in CO2 emissions that we require in order to breathe a bit more easily.