There are dozens of articles similar to this one floating around claiming the new Volkswagen XL1, which can get 300+ MPG (0.78 L/100 km) in ideal driving conditions, has been banned in the USA because it is too fuel efficient and it would cut into oil company profits.

You won’t find the 300 MPG Volkswagen XL1 in an American showroom, in fact it has even been denied a tour of America because it is too efficient for the American public to be made widely aware of, and oil profits are too high in America with the status quo in place.

No tour has been allowed for this car because the myth that 50 mpg [4.7 L/100km] is virtually impossible to obtain from even a stripped down econobox is too profitable to let go of, and when it comes to corporate oil profits, ignorance is bliss.

I cannot find any information to substantiate that it is even banned in the first place, never mind the reason for the banning, which could just as easily be for safety or other regulatory reasons. It also appears that Volkswagen only made 250 of these and may not even have interest in selling them in the USA in the first place.

Can anyone shed some light on whether or not it is actually banned, and if so, what reason was given for the banning?

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    The article that you linked to states "in fact it has even been denied a tour of America," however, that is false. Here is the car in New York City: foxnews.com/leisure/2013/12/17/future-drive-volkswagen-xl1 and here is the car in Tennessee: phys.org/news/2013-10-volkswagen-xl1-world-efficient-car.html
    – Ryan Ries
    Apr 12, 2014 at 14:48
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    Also, if that is indeed where such a claim comes from, that makes this a question about motivations, which is sadly off-topic.
    – Flimzy
    Apr 12, 2014 at 22:56
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    The word "because" is used in my summary of the article. My questions can be summarized as: "is it banned" and "if it is banned, what reasons if any were given by whoever banned it." I'm having a hard time understanding what hairs are being split here in my question's wording. Is there a meta post somewhere?
    – MDMarra
    Apr 13, 2014 at 16:55
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    I agree with @MDMarra, the question asks about the official motivation for banning (if there is indeed a ban), not about any possible unspoken one, so it is answerable.
    – nico
    Apr 13, 2014 at 17:45

1 Answer 1


Safety rules

According to a December 2013 article in USA Today, the XL1 cannot meet US safety rules.

The latest teaser: XL1. It's a spaceship-like, ultra-high-mpg, plug-in diesel-electric hybrid. VW used exotic, but obtainable, materials and technologies to craft a mileage-above-all car able to get 261 mpg in European tests, equating, very roughly, to perhaps 200 mpg in U.S. tests.

Barely a real production model, it's made in a factory, but largely by hand. It couldn't meet U.S. safety rules

The sleek roof provides no rear window. Equally sleek sides aren't interrupted by mirrors. Rear view is via two cameras in tiny pods about where mirrors would be. Inside, each door has a view screen in which to see what's beside and behind.

It would take us longer to get used to the camera system than it would to get comfortable with the noise.

A car without mirrors — you can begin to see the kinds of regulatory hurdles the XL1 would have to jump to become mainstream. Just one air bag, in the steering wheel. Another non-starter almost everywhere

So it seems the stated reasons for VW not marketing this vehicle in the USA are insufficient conventional safety measure, not excessive fuel economy.

The press pack describes the approach to safety taken by VW with the XL1. It may be that changes in safety law may be needed before it is accepted that the vehicle is as safe as more conventional vehicles (other news reports support this view, saying that rules were changed in Germany to allow the XL1). This is an expensive limited-production hand-made car, perhaps VW are really using this mainly as an exercise for testing the reaction of the public and of legislators to technologies and approaches that may be used in future vehicles.

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    Are the differences in mpg between American and European tests due to differences in definition of the gallon?
    – gerrit
    Apr 15, 2014 at 16:30
  • Of course, this does not disprove the conspiracy theory that the true reason that it is banned is its efficiency.
    – gerrit
    Apr 15, 2014 at 16:31
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    1) That's how I interpreted it but maths suggests standard test cycle also differs in US * EU. 2) True but my alien lizard overlords prohnv\uij Apr 15, 2014 at 16:35
  • It seems to be regrettably true that safety standards have led to inevitably-higher curb weight. I have a '92 Civic which has a highway rating of 49MPG. Can't touch that with today's non-hybrid / electrics. (Of course, "safety standards" is just the conspiracy's tactic...) Apr 15, 2014 at 20:36

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