Plug-in hybrids are about to become a lot more common on Europe's roads as the region's mass-market brands start to introduce such cars in a bid to lower the average CO2 emissions of their new-car fleets ahead of tougher EU limits.
Europe's volume automakers once shunned hybrid drivetrains, leaving the field to Toyota and premium brands, but the Paris auto show will highlight why plug-in hybrids may become a more affordable option for buyers looking for fuel-sipping cars.
Renault, which for a long time promoted pure electric vehicles as a solution to cutting C02 emissions, now plans to sell hybrids alongside its EVs. Renault says most hybrid vehicles on sale are higher-segment cars with a price tag of more than 40,000 euros. It plans to introduce its full hybrid technology on entry-level vehicles, making it more affordable for a higher number of motorists. The company will showcase a gasoline-electric powertrain on its Eolab concept in Paris.
Europe's biggest automaker, Volkswagen, will unveil its new Passat with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain that uses a turbocharged 1.4-liter direct injection gasoline engine and a 115 kW electric motor. The Passat GTE will arrive in European showrooms in October 2015, joining the Golf GTE plug-in hybrid, which launched in August.