Diesel-electric hybrids could be the only way to meet emissions standards envisioned in Europe that would be so tight they'd equate to a U.S. mileage requirement of 70 to 80mpg
James R. Healey - USATODAY
- July 22, 2009
This tech could get interesting very quickly. --Ed.
After years of championing diesel power, high-end German automakers are rushing into hybrids.
They aren't abandoning diesels more are coming. And they know gasoline engines will dominate sales for the foreseeable future.
But they've decided hybrids are the best way to improve their green image, boost fuel economy to help meet tight 2016 U.S. standards that favor hybrids and target what looks to be a bigger market.
"The smart play is to hedge your bets by having entries in both categories," diesel and hybrid, says Michael Omotoso, powertrain analyst at consultant J.D. Power and Associates. "There's still a lot of perception on the part of American consumers that diesels are dirty, so the strategy is to have hybrids for those who think diesels are dirty."
"We are taking a very broad approach. It's more than a statement. It's an opportunity for us to gain familiarity with (hybrids) for broader use," BMW spokesman David Buchko says. He points out that BMW also is developing hydrogen-fueled vehicles and its Mini brand has a demonstration fleet of plug-in electric Mini Coopers in the U.S.
The array of gasoline-electric models coming from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche and Audi, in addition to their diesel variants, will give luxury buyers a striking number of choices. But it means that choosing a drivetrain will amount to betting on a specific technology.
And a bet on gas-electric hybrids, which might seem futuristic at the moment, could be a... [Read More]