One of my fears about very efficient vehicles is crash survival. Even with state of the art lightweight super strong non metallic materials, you have to be concerned about deceleration and acceleration upon impact and recoil. Smaller vehicles suffer from having smaller crumple zones, thus reducing the time available for velocity change. And they have lower mass, meaning for the same given force of impact the smaller vehicle will pick up a higher rebound acceleration rate. It'll be thrown farther with higher G forces.
So, even with better quality cabin restraints, when a much lighter passenger vehicle meets a much heavier one the passenger injury rate rises dramatically. Potential for G force damage to the passengers increases significantly even considering air bags and other flexible restraints. The rate of deployment of an airbag would have to be sped up and that alone will result in more injuries.
The solution of course is to sacrifice mileage economy somewhat by powering a larger electrical load and adding the weight of collision avoidance systems.
I play around with high efficiency vehicle ideas and the 3 wheeler idea has some value-fewer parts, less weight. It also has some drawbacks-the third wheel track makes avoidance of potholes and debris more difficult, in snow the third track increased the likelihood of getting stuck. Keeping the cg far enough within the wheel contact patch triangle is more demanding. The length of the vehicle also tends to grow as you cannot put any sizeable components parallel to the rear wheel (I don't see front single wheels as viable).
Consumer acceptance of three wheelers is also an issue.
30 miles from work to home, first 10 miles are on battery until it runs out and then the next 20 miles on gas engine. I average about 80 mpg but have gotten up to 106 mpg when traffic is very slow (e.g., overall average and max speeds are less).
So the VW would go 32 miles on battery and then the next ~30 miles on the diesel engine.
I don't quite understand one point from the article. It says "the XL1 can travel 32 all-electric miles ...", but later, "... figures are based on European Commission methodology, which calls for the vehicle to travel 100 km [62 mi], using its all-electric mode, followed by a diesel fuel mode." Does that mean it would have to stop to recharge during the first part of the test?
Look carefully at the specs and tell me - how much fun will this car be to drive? Looks like you have to bring your own AA batteries for the radio to work. Notice the line about "just enough power to be roadworthy". I had a car like that once- a 1977 Renault 4. Wouldn't want to be stuck behind one of these going up a hill.
Yes, the price tag will certainly determine the success of this venture. $130k seems a bit extreme and of course, cost-prohibitive to most! That would sort of defeat the purpose as well to make a fuel-efficient car many people can take advantage of. At any rate, I am curious to see this vehicle when it's out there on the market.
It appears to be a great car, but the final pricetag will affect our view of that, Liz. I've seen all kinds of estimates on what it might be, ranging from $40K to $130K (which is probably not a viable estimate). Volkswagen isn't saying, however, so I was careful not put any speculation in the article.
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