Europeans Get Interested In Hybrids Just As U.S. Looks To Diesels

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2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid

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Traditionally, the U.S. has been a market where gasoline vehicles have dominated, while hybrids have seen increasing success and diesels have really only sold in relatively small numbers.

In contrast, low diesel fuel prices in Europe have seen its popularity increase over the past few decades. Their high gas mileage has generally seen hybrid vehicles occupying a small niche in the market.

Is each continent coming around to the ways of the other? It might seem that way, at a glance.

Automotive News reports Toyota has seen a large rise in demand for its hybrid models, 29 percent higher in 2012 than it was in 2011.

Toyota and Lexus hybrid new car sales have topped 100,000 models for the first time, reaching 109,478. Over 83,000 of those were from Toyota's hybrid range, which includes the Prius, the Prius+ (a rebadged Prius V with two more seats), Prius Plug-In, Yaris Hybrid subcompact and Auris Hybrid compact.

At the same time, diesel models are beginning to appear in volume on the U.S. market. Volkswagen's diesel range has been popular for years, but several other marques now sell diesel cars too.

Importantly, two U.S. carmakers have recently joined the fray--Chevrolet, with the Cruze Diesel, and Jeep, with its Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel. That Jeep could be joined by even more models, and if those prove successful, it's likely we'll see more U.S-built diesels appearing over the next few years.

No big changes

Despite the increasing success of each vehicle type, we're not expecting any paradigm shift just yet.

German auto parts maker Bosch predicted in 2012 that one in ten new cars in the U.S. would be diesel by 2015. That seemed awfully optimistic at the time and even more so now, with a mere handful of extra diesels on the market.

Even if diesel Cruze and Jeep sales really take off--and they'd need to improve diesel sales by a whole 9 percent, or the best part of 1.5 million vehicles. One tenth of the market is still a way off Europe's diesel addiction, where over half of all new cars sold use the fuel.

And that means hybrids have a way to go too--Toyota's total of 109,000 vehicles is 0.87 percent of Europe's total 12.5 million vehicle sales in 2012.

Like the U.S, Toyota is by far the largest seller of hybrid vehicles in Europe--we expect Europe's hybrid figures are little more than 1 percent--the same proportion diesels take in the U.S. market.

So are hybrids and diesels going to take over Europe and the U.S.? Not for a while, at least--but the good news is, consumers are clearly looking for ever more efficient vehicles.


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Comments (8)
  1. Everything you save on gas will get eaten up when you replace the battery, also, if the tranny goes, watch out, the tranny has the generator built into it and if it goes you looking at 10 grand plus, depends on the model, info obatined from a friend who shop has been dealing with these for the past year.

  2. Ed sounds like your nonbeliever of hybrids,mine is still going strong nine years old this year and only had oil/filter services and two tires. What about the cars that you don't save on fuel they require expensive rebuilds eventually.The prius tranny is maintenance free very simple,no gear changes clutches or solenoids found inall other competitors boxes.Being realistic everything will break and some drivers can make it happen from new but I wouldn't suggest you tar all Prius hybrids over one garage or mechanics comment if it was happening nation wide fair enough.

  3. i think Ed was saying *if* something goes wrong, not when. there is always a chance something could break, but that is low for things like a transmission on really any vehicle built in the last 10-15 years

  4. If you notice I added the proviso that anything will break but feel his comments are scaremongering and aimed squarely at the Prius. Elsewhere on this site its been reported about the reliability and longivity of the Prius both in years and high mileage so even if his friend the mechanic can produce the facts just how many would that be in the big picture.

  5. Sure, you heard from a friend who heard from a friend who... Whatevs. Sorry dude, you are not qualified to comment on hybrids.

    I have first-hand experience with the Toyota Prius (I owned one for many years). The transmission is a simple planetary gearset, no clutches, no torque converter, no CVT pullys or belts. That transmission has just 23 moving parts, compared 100+ in a normal automatic transmission. It is darn near bulletproof. The MG1 and MG2 electric motors in the transaxle will last the lifetime of the car as long as the Toyota WS transaxle fluid is changed every 60,000 miles to prevent buildup of dissolved metals and filings in the fluid.

    My Prius battery is warrantied for 10 years. I'm not worried.

  6. Well, hybrid's transmission are usually pretty simple, much more reliable than a traditional automatic transmission. I have never heard any of them ever go wrong. Toyota Prius gearset is not complex comparing to a 6 or 8 speed automatic...

    Saying that transmission goes out is like saying if the Diesel engine break and watch out, it will be expensive.

  7. This shows that there is not one single solution.

    The biggest issue to understand is that all these technological solutions have been available in Europe since the inception of Hybrid tech, but the market has not responded as the sweet spot for hybrids is large cities with complex expressway infrastructures such as LA, Houston etc. Not many cities like that in Europe !!

    Plus the public transport network in European cities is usually a viable alternative. Try getting anywhere in LA on public transport !!.

    But as the cost of hybrids and batteries falls it will gain traction in Europe, which is a good thing.

  8. Here in the UK the Prius is free to use in central London where polluting cars vans etc attract a considerable congestion charge per day. There are plenty to be seen within this area. I live in the country and have noticed numbers increasing year on year although there are still plenty of diesels I know this for I'm continually having to close my vents when following them.

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