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Sunday, August 21, 2011

VW to unveil Single-Seat Electric Car

Volkswagen is poised to unveil a single-seat, ultra-frugal, zero-emission electric car. The German carmaker also plans to offer a “full-service package” for customers of its electric cars by selling them power from renewable sources, Jürgen Leohold, head of research, told the Financial Times.

VW’s one-seat concept or experimental car will showcase the carmaker’s ambition to build vehicles that generate no carbon dioxide, even on a “well-to-wheel” calculation that takes into account the carbon dioxide generated by power plants.

“It’s a new kind of mobility – a new vehicle concept,” Mr Leohold said. “Also, it’s physics. If you limit a car to one person, you can make it smaller, less weight, you need less energy to transport the person, and then obviously … it can be better on CO2 and fuel efficiency”.

Mr Leohold said that the single-seater concept car, to be unveiled within weeks, was designed for limited purposes, such as commuting, and that most drivers would want a larger vehicle for longer trips.

He declined to reveal the car’s range, top speed or other details ahead of its unveiling.

VW’s research head said that the one-seater would be “even better” than the XL1 Super Efficient Vehicle, a diesel-electric plug-in hybrid capable of 313 miles per gallon which the company unveiled in January.

Mr Leohold said that the car’s CO2 count “depends on what kind of electricity you put in the battery”, but if powered from renewable sources it would be “zero”.

Single-passenger vehicles are a rarity in the car industry apart from niche products such as the Segway scooter – which is prohibited from roads in many countries – or the ill-fated Sinclair C5, a British-designed electric tricycle launched in 1985 that flopped because of safety and other concerns.

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