The speakers at the Doha unveiling of the VW XL1 concept had to address "your highnesses, excellencies, members of the VW board...". The great and the good - including the Emir of Qatar and his wife - were out in force at the impressive Qatar Science Park to see the 313mpg XL1 make its public debut.

It's nearly nine years on from the first VW super-eco concept, but the XL1 is more practical - it seats two passengers abreast - and is much more believable as a day-to-day proposition.

Believable enough to be going into limited production in 2013. Nobody would discuss a price, but it's bound to be loss-leader for the brand. But the fact VW could put a 313mpg car in the showroom in just two years' time is probably reward enough for the company bosses.

The most striking fact that came out of this evening's presentation was from R&D boss Ulrich Hackenberg. His revelation was that, if the company reduced the average fuel economy of its cars by what global warming devotees think needs to be done by 2050, all VW models would have to average 313mpg.

The design of the XL1 was led by Thomas Ingelath, who told me that the project, which lasted nearly 18 months, was "intensely technical" but it did leave room for styling flourishes. In the flesh, it looks great and is bound to be snapped up for a staring role in a future sci-fi epic.

Behind all this futurism is VW's legendary overseer, supervisory board boss Ferdinand Piech. Grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, his whole career has been dedicated to technical leaps forward. He wants VW to become the world's largest car maker by 2018. So I've just asked him why.

He thought for a second and said: "There are always targets...even [pointing upwards] to the stars." I don't know whether this means VW intends to put a man into space but, where Piech is concerned, I wouldn't rule it out.