I received an e-mail recently about Volkswagen starting production on a $600 car that get’s 258 MPG. It seemed to good to be true, and after a little research I discovered that I was right.
The source of this e-mail appeared to come from a few sources:
Each of these source seem to have some truth in them, but they also seemed to have misleading information that the e-mail I received had somehow compiled all together.
So what’s the truth? First of all, yes this appears to be an actual car that according to some posts I found is going to be produced in China threw contract with Volkswagen. What this really means is that Volkswagen is not producing the car for China, so the Chinese government can control the cost of the car as they do with many other things.
Regardless of if the Chinese actually manufacture the car on their own, the suggestion of many of the above mentioned web-pages saying that RMB 4,000 equaling about US $600, still Ignores the fact that producing the same thing in the US would most certainly cost much more. Add to that the additional regulations and safety requirements cars in the US have today, and the price would increase many times more.
An article from EnergyBoom.com suggest a potentially more realistic price tag:
“The prototype has a single-cylinder diesel engine (though that could change), anti lock brakes, driver’s airbag and an electronic stability program. It holds 6.5 liters or 1.72 gallons of gasoline and does, in fact get 258 miles per gallon with a top speed of around 74 miles per hour. . . Volkswagen is calling it the world’s most economical car but the price tag is not going to be $600. Reports say it will be more like $25,900 and that VW will be making a limited number for release in 2010.”
GreatChange.org also had an important fact to note about this lightweight vehicle:
“Some points to remember are that many of the construction materials such as magnesium, titanium, and carbon fiber require greater energies for their mining and fabrication than the normal materials, and the vehicle itself can require more energy to build than it consumes over its lifetime”
They also cost a great deal more then the more traditional materials used in Automotive manufacturing. Even then, according to Glen Beck’s “An Inconvenient book“, it may, overall, be more energy efficient and cost effective to continue driving your old gas guzzler then to buy a new more expensive, but somewhat more fuel efficient, vehicle. Google Answers also has some information in this area that seems to somewhat contradict these claims.
The real problem with the $600 VW gas sipping mini car is the fact that there’s no way it will end up costing only $600. The second problem is that it’s already mid 2010, and I was unable to find any references to it actually being produced, though according to Car and Driver, it will be:
“VW’s biggest news at the Frankfurt auto show was the L1 concept, a prototype that “is close to production” and “will be developed,” the company says. Three ingredients were needed to make it happen: a supremely efficient powertrain, great aerodynamics, and lightweight engineering.
As to the powertrain, VW has opted for a two-cylinder, 39-hp turbo-diesel engine combined with a 14-hp electric motor. There is a stop/start system and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The L1 can reach 100 mph, but fuel economy at that speed drops to a shameful 1.38 liters per 100 kilometers, or 170 mpg.”