Diesel hybrids & plug-ins
Toyota has recently improved its own diesel lineup with a 1.6-liter engine sourced from BMW, but the Japanese automaker has no plans to join the growing market for diesel hybrids.
"We believe hybrid technologies have more benefit married with gasoline engines," Toyota Europe's engineering director, Gerald Killmann, told Automotive News Europe last year. "A diesel engine is on one hand highly efficient but also very expensive."
Europe's diesel-hybrid market is led by PSA/Peugeot-Citroen. The Peugeot 508 HYbrid4 was the top-selling diesel hybrid in Europe with a 2013 volume of 9,792, ahead of the Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4 and the Citroen DS5 HYbrid4.
Europe's premium makers fared poorly in the hybrid niche last year with little demand for cars such as the Mercedes-Benz S-class BlueHybrid and BMW's Active Hybrid versions of 3 series, 5 series and 7 series. One problem with the cars is that they provide little, if any, improvement in fuel economy compared with diesel equivalents. "The expectation was tiny and sales were even less than that," LMC's Bedwell said. "It's not the right technology for Europe. They're mainly developed for Japan and the U.S."
The one growth area will be plug-in hybrids, Bedwell predicts. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV gasoline plug-in was Europe's No. 7-selling hybrid in 2013, its first year of availability. Volvo's V60 plug-in diesel hybrid was ninth. "Some makers will skip conventional hybrids and go straight for plug-in," Bedwell said.
A plug-in hybrid's high price for increased battery-only performance is partially offset by government incentives in country's such as the UK, where vehicles with CO2 figures below 75g/km are eligible for up to 5,000 pounds (6,000 euros) off the list price. Current plug-in hybrids such as the V60 emit 48g/km of CO2.
The appeal for automakers is that plug-in hybrids also provide them supercredits under the EU's 2020 emissions regulations, off-setting high CO2 elsewhere in their fleets. Said Bedwell. "They're doing everything to make sure they've got the right capability to meet targets, so we'll see lots of downsizing, turbocharging and also electrification."