Volkswagen Up! hybrid to borrow XL1 diesel plug-in tech

The Volkswagen Up! hybrid will inherit the ground-breaking diesel plug-in technology from the futuristic XL1 to make it one of the most fuel-efficient cars on the market.
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Set to launch by the end of 2014, UK publication Autocar reports the Up! hybrid will use about three litres of fuel per 100km by borrowing the XL1’s ultra-frugal hybrid system, which comprises a 35kW/120Nm 0.8-litre two-cylinder diesel engine, a 20kW/140Nm electric motor and a 5.5kWh lithium-ion battery.

The super-sleek 0.9L/100km Volkswagen XL1 two-seater revealed today and headed for next month’s Geneva motor show will be produced in limited numbers, initially just 50, but its pioneering drivetrain will have a far wider reach in the Up! hybrid, which Volkswagen will produce on a significantly larger scale.

If the 3.0L/100km estimate is accurate, the Up! hybrid will be around 40 per cent more fuel efficient than the current 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol-powered Up!, which burns 4.9L/100km on the combined cycle.

Fitting the XL1’s hybrid system to the Up! hybrid won’t be as simple as a straight transplant, however. Where in the XL1 the battery is positioned on the front axle and the diesel engine, electric motor and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission are positioned at the rear (pictured above), this arrangement will be reversed in the Up! hybrid, with the moving parts relocated under the bonnet and the battery sent to the rear.

Like the XL1, the Up! hybrid is expected to have a zero-emission pure-electric range of 50km, while its total hybrid range will depend on the size of the fuel tank fitted.