Volkswagen L1 hybrid features carbon fiber-reinforced body

Volkswagen introdued the light-weight, two-seat L1 diesel hybrid at the International Motor Show last week and made waves with the announcement of an all-carbon fiber composite body; the carmaker hopes to begin production in 2013.

Related Topics:

Volkswagen (Wolfsburg, Germany) introduced at the International Motor Show (Frankfurt, Germany) on Sept. 14 the L1, a full hybrid vehicle that weighs just 380 kg/838 lb and features a carbon fiber-reinforced body (CFRB). The two-seater (one behind the other) has a combined fuel consumption of 1.38 liters of diesel per 100 km (170 mpg) and CO2 emissions of 36 g/km. Volkswagen says it has developed a fast, cost-effective way of manufacturing carbon fiber composite structures for the vehicle's body.

“It is an enormous challenge to control costs in producing the monocoque out of CFRP [carbon fiber-reinforced plastic],” says Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, member of the Board of Management for the Volkswagen Brand with responsibility for development. Until now, producing a body like that of the L1 from CFRP, while conforming to industrial standards, was an insurmountable task. Up to now CFRP was only practical for very small production runs, as in aircraft manufacturing or motorsport. Now, Volkswagen says it has succeeded in finding a production-viable and cost-effective way to produce CFRP parts in suitable volumes.

The 124-kg/273-lb CFRP body includes 64 kg accounted for by the CFRP monocoque including integrated passenger seat, 28 kg for the entire CFRP exterior skin, 19 kg for the CFRP entry canopy, 9 kg for the CFRP driver’s seat and 4 kg for the LED lights. 

The seat layout was dictated by the aerodynamic form of a glider: One seat behind the other. Entry to the concept car is also similar to that of a glider; through a roof cover hinged at the side. On this second generation of the L1, the concept has been further honed; each component has been redesigned, a special chassis with aluminium components was developed, and above all the crucial CFRP technology from Formula-1 racing and airplane construction was transferred to automotive manufacturing. This has been combined with a  form of hybrid drive to create a near-production vehicle. 2013 is the target year for production.

The L1 has a top speed of up to 160 km/h (100 mph), with maximum acceleration from a standstill to 100 km/h in 14.3 seconds. The fuel tank holds 10 liters and has a driving range of about 670 km/416 miles, given the car’s 1.38 liter average fuel consumption.

Editor Pick

Carbon Fiber conference agenda nears completion

The 2017 Carbon Fiber conference, Nov. 28-30 in Charleston, SC, US, includes a tour of the Boeing South Carolina plant, a panel on carbon fiber recycling and a pre-conference seminar on carbon fiber in transportation and energy applications.