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You Can’t Buy VW’s XL!, 313 MPG Ultra-Green Car

You Can't Buy VW's 313 MPG Ultra-Green Car

Volkswagen this week began delivering its futuristic, 313 miles–per–gallon XL1 to lucky customers. Just don’t expect to get behind the wheel of the urban runabout that looks like it drove off the set of Blade Runner anytime soon.

The initial production run was limited to 250 cars, and they were only sold in Europe to buyers with pockets deep enough to afford the $145,000 sticker. That’s even more expensive than Tesla Motors’ top-of-the-line Model S luxury electric sedan.

But, oh, what a car. The XL1’s sleek carbon fiber body weighs in at 1,753 pounds (a Mini Cooper, in contrast, weighs 2,535 pounds). The two-seater has a plug-in hybrid system, and it can travel to 31 miles as a zero-emission electric vehicle. In all-electric mode, the XL1 requires less than a tenth of a kilowatt-hour to cover more than 0.6 miles with its 27-horsepower motor. (The car also has an ultra-efficient 48-horsepower diesel engine.) Cargo space is minimal—4.2 cubic feet in the 153-inch-long vehicle. The XL1 is so aerodynamic it has dispensed with side mirrors, substituting video screens embedded in the door panels.

Don’t expect Model S–like acceleration, though. The XL1 takes a leisurely 12.7 seconds to go zero to 62 and tops off at 98 mph. When Car and Driver tested an XL1 last year, it found that the car needed a recharge after 22 miles, not the 31 miles VW says it can go.

The XL1’s limited availability has sent conspiracy theorists into overdrive on the Web—the oil companies must be sabotaging the car! VW spokesperson Darryll Harrison told TakePart the reality is more mundane: The car sold out as soon as it became available to order.

While the XL1 is a production car, it’s not a mass production car. At least not yet. “The XL1 was an exercise in efficiency, showing what was possible when a car company looked to change the paradigm of the supercar,” said Harrison. “The XL1 is not the fastest car around, nor will it break any speed records, but instead flips the concept of the supercar on its head, featuring innovations that make it the world’s most efficient production car available.”

While Harrison says that there are no plans to bring the XL1 to the U.S., some of its innovative features will be rolled into other VW cars that will appear in American showrooms.