Toyota's Prius may have pioneered the mainstream hybrid, with the Auris hybrid now providing an even more conventional choice, but Volkswagen seems intent on finding out just how far the technology will stretch. If the L1 is anything to go by, it is very far indeed. Volkswagen is determined to bring this hybrid two-seater to showrooms by 2013.The VW L1 concept has a drag coefficient of just 0.195 and is powered by an 800cc two-stroke diesel, coupled to an electric motor. It emits just 39g/km of CO2, delivers 189mpg and could be in showrooms by 2013.The powerplant develops up to 29bhp in ‘sport’ mode, along with 74lb ft of torque at 1900rpm. The car’s top speed is 99mph and 0-62mph takes 14.3sec. The 14bhp electric motor steps in under acceleration, lifting torque by 40 per cent.As low as Lamborghini’s Murcielago but as long as a VW Fox, the L1’s body is made from carbonfibre-reinforced plastic, keeping total weight down to 380kg. “The whole project is being pitched as a possible production car for around 2013,” said a VW spokesman.
Electric cars were everywhere at Frankfurt this year – Renault rolled out four – but perhaps the most formidable is the Audi e-tron. The German manufacturer is being pragmatic, saying it will only bring the car to production when the concept hits targets on range, performance and durability, but it promises scintillating zero-emissions performance.At 4.26m long and 1.9m wide, the e-tron is shorter and wider than a Boxster. The powertrain for the e-tron features four electric motors — one pair at the front and another pair on the rear axle. Total available power is 313bhp and torque is an astonishing 3319lb ft — around 10 times that produced by the V8-engined R8. Performance is brisk; 0-62mph takes 4.8sec, 37-75mph takes 4.1sec and the top speed is 124mph.