There have been reports for some years about the Volkswagen 1-litre car, so called because it would travel 100 kilometers on one litre of fuel. That is the equivalent of 235 miles per gallon. Earlier reports were that the car would be marketed by now.
Now Volkswagen indicates that the car will be produced "within the next few years." The car will be called the XL1. However, rather than being a 1 L car it will be a 0.9 L car, achieving 261 miles per gallon. The improvement is the result of adding an electric motor that will make the car a plug-in hybrid.
This is just further indication of reality that technological improvements can materially reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, if the entire automobile fleet could obtain this fuel efficiency by 2050, greenhouse gas emissions from cars would be reduced more than 80 percent, despite substantial increases in driving. This development may mean that petroleum itself could emerge as a "green fuel."
Moreover, this advance is consistent with finding by McKinsey & Company and the Conference Board, in a report sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Shell, National Grid, DTE Energy and Honeywell that "....no change in thermostat settings or appliance use, no downsizing of vehicles, home or commercial space and traveling the same mileage” and no “shift to denser urban housing" would be necessary to achieve substantial greenhouse gas emission reductions in the United States.
Volkswagen L1 (2009) photo by RudolfSimon