Steane Klose | Jun 14, 2007

You may have noticed that we haven’t been able to fully embrace the petrol-electric hybrid in these pages. Whilst we applaud the thinking behind the design and the fact that they save fuel and reduce emissions all of which is admirable we have questioned the complexity and expense involved.

In the case of the Toyota Prius how do owners justify the circa $40k price tag when a dynamically superior and arguably better Corolla can be had for closer to $20k? The difference in price buys a whole truck load of fuel…

The axe we have been grinding is now being echoed by others and one in particular is worthy of mention. CarOnline have interviewed Dr Bernd Bohr chairman of Bosch’s automotive wing and he sounds as skeptical as we are at CARupdate.

Dr Bohr believes that by 2015 fewer than 5 per cent of all new cars sold in Europe will be hybrids. He confirmed that many manufacturers were in the early stages of developing hybrids but few had actually committed to the technology. We reported earlier today that Honda are developing clean diesels and appear to be leaving the hybrid market to Toyota.

Dr Bohr believes that hybrids offer very little benefit unless they are being used in stop start city traffic. Instead, he sees hybrid technology being most useful in large SUV’s and luxury vehicles where it is important that owners are not seen as being excessive.

“Hybrid technology does not make sense unless you are driving in city traffic. - They make sense for those customers, who want a big expensive car but don't want to be seen to be excessive. - We do not think that hybrid engines will be successful in the long term - they are too expensive,” said Bohr

mercedes-320-bluetec.jpg

Although Bosch confirmed that they are working on an SUV petrol-electric hybrid system with VW, Audi and Porsche for use on the Cayenne, Touareg and Q7 they believe that the majority of motor vehicle CO2 emission reduction will be achieved through the use of ‘clever’ technology on standard combustion engines.

Stop-start technology as seen on the Mini Cooper D, clean diesels like those being designed or in use by many manufacturers (see image above - Mercedes Bluetec one of the cleanest diesel engines on the market), biofuels and increased efficiency will lead the way.

Interestingly, Toyota has stated their intention to offer a hybrid version of every model that they manufacture over the coming years. We think they may be barking up the wrong tree and the ‘inconvenient truth’ will be that hybrids are not the holy grail when it comes to eco motoring.

You can click on the links to read other related articles:

Fiat 1.9JTD TST (Twin Stage Turbo) diesel engine

Peugeot 308 diesel-electric hybrid

Porsche Cayenne hybrid and diesel

VW diesels set to take on hybrids

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