VW’s one-liter and Tesla’s new electric sedan

Which car will go into production first, the Volkswagen 1-Liter Concept car or the Tesla Motor S?
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How do we save General Motors?

By Lou Ann Hammond

In October, 2007 Dr. Thomas Gaensicke, Volkswagen AG, drove me around San Francisco in the 1-liter car built by Volkswagen. Billed as the most fuel-efficient car in the world, VW has created a two-seater made out of magnesium and carbon-fiber.

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The tandem, single-cylinder naturally aspirated diesel fueled engine with direct fuel injection and a displacement of .3 liters. The 1-liter gets 238 miles per gallon, 8.5 horsepower and 13.5 lb/ft of torque at 2,000 rpm. The one-liter gets it’s name because one-liter of fuel is how much fuel it needs to go 100 kilometers

The 1-liter car weighs 639 pounds, 49.1 inches wide, 43.7 inches high and has a drag co-efficient of .159.

Personally, the 1-liter looks like an airplane fuselage without the wings. The open-air canopy is reminiscent of a tandem Thorp homebuilt airplane, which gives one a feeling of more room. Cameras take the place of side mirrors.

But no matter how much room you feel you have, this one-liter is cramped with no trunkspace and I wouldn’t want to be on the highways, or even in city traffic, if hit by another car.

CAR magazine, howe’ver, is reporting that VW is considering launching a two-liter turbodiesel with a mild hybrid for close to $30,000. CAR says the w-liter will have a safety kit will include ABS/ESP, a driver’s airbag, sequential motorbike-style transmission as well as LED head- and taillights.

Another concept car that has promise to be on the road within the next five years would be the VW Space Up! Blue electric power concept car shown at the 2007 Los Angeles auto show. This car would get more than 60 miles on one charge. Add in there hydrogen fuel cell in the same car would give you about 200 miles per charge.

But something has to be done. In an interview with Volkswagen’s Dr. Steiger from Germany, Steiger says that gasoline will be 10 times as expensive as it is now.

Tesla to get incentives on Vaporware

On June 30, 2008 a audio press release said “Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Teslas decision to locate it’s new manufacturing facility for it’s Model S, Teslas second-generation vehicle, in California. As part of the states ongoing commitment to clean technology, the Governor also announced a new program that waives the sales tax on investment in new manufacturing equipment for Zero Emission Vehicles.”

In full disclosure, Governor Schwarzenegger is in-line to receive a Tesla roadster, when – and as some say, if – they are produced.

The Tesla S is a $60,000 five passenger sedan that Tesla says will get 225 miles to the charge. There were no pictures, renditions or descriptions on Tesla’s website or at the announcement.

This incentive is worth millions of dollars and could be the reason Tesla decided to build their cars in California instead of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and before that Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The program was developed in conjunction with the State Treasurer, Bill Lockyer, and the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (CAEATFA), a new program that exempts new ZEV manufacturers from paying sales and use tax on the purchase of manufacturing equipment, which encourages ZEV manufacturing in California.. Lockyer is chair of CAEATFA.

There is no other automobile company that I know that has used bootstrap financing as cleverly as Tesla. A couple years ago Tesla sold 100 signature Tesla Roadsters for $100,000 each, garnering $1,000,000 in funds. Now, Tesla is saving millions more dollars in manufacturing and employee training and even more if they build in an economically-challenged community, or “enterprise zone” inside California. Unless, of course, they get a better offer from another state.

How do we save General Motors?

Which makes me wonder why General Motors hasn’t started thinking outside the automobile like Tesla has? GM says they will have an electric vehicle called the Chevy Volt on the market by 2010. Why not presale the first 100,000 “signature” vehicles for the full $50,000 up front.

And if they could find a way to declare the Fremont area an economically challenged enterprise zone they too could garner millions of dollars from the state of California by using the NUMMI auto factory to build the Chevy Volt.

Listen to Lou Ann Hammond on WABC’s John Batchelor show:

About the Author:

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY), Women's World Car of the Year (WWCOTY), and the Concept Car of the Year.