2016 Mercedes-Benz S550e Plug-In HybridEnlarge Photo
The established German luxury carmakers are showing considerable enthusiasm for plug-in hybrids.
Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche all have at least one plug-in hybrid in production or nearly there--with many more on the way.
In a few years, at least some members of this group will likely offer plug-in hybrid options for virtually every model they make.
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But that may not be such a good idea, according to one industry analyst.
Emphasis on plug-in hybrids won't prevent Tesla Motors from taking a greater share of the luxury-car market, says Professor Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer--director of Germany's Center for Automotive Research (CAR).
In an article by Forbes contributor Neil Winton, Dudenhoeffer claims that the Tesla Model S is outselling traditional status symbols like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class in both Germany and Switzerland.
2016 Audi Q7 e-tron quattroEnlarge Photo
Neither country has the established level of electric-car incentives available in the U.S., or in other European nations.
Dudenhoffer said plug-in hybrids don't have the green image of all-electric cars, because drivers still have to rely on an internal-combustion engine much of the time.
In Germany at least, that means buyers don't view plug-in hybrids as legitimately green cars, he said.
The researcher claims Tesla is already outselling high-end sedans from the German brands in certain markets, and that if it can launch its planned Model 3 electric car, it could prove equally dominant in lower-priced segments.
Tesla plans to launch the mass-market Model 3 sedan in 2017, with targeted range of 200 miles, and a base price of $35,000.
German automakers will likely introduce more all-electric cars, but they may still be outnumbered by plug-in hybrids.
2016 BMW 740e xDriveEnlarge Photo
Audi will soon begin selling plug-in hybrid versions of the A3 and Q7 in the U.S., and will launch an all-electric crossover in 2018.
BMW has announced plug-in hybrids variants of the 3 Series and 7 Series sedans, as well as the X5 SUV, to join the i3 electric car and i8 plug-in hybrid.
Porsche already sells plug-in hybrid versions of the Cayenne and Panamera, and while there have been rumors of an all-electric Porsche sedan, nothing has been confirmed so far.
Mercedes-Benz currently sells an S-Class plug-in hybrid, which will soon be joined by C-Class sedan and GLE-Class SUV plug-ins.
To date, no German automaker has announced a plug-in hybrid with the range of the 53-mile 2016 Chevrolet Volt, which goes on sale next month in California.
2016 Chevrolet VoltEnlarge Photo
That car is expected to do 90 percent of its trips on grid electricity, General Motors says.
The only vehicle with a range greater than the Volt is the BMW i3 REx, with a 73-mile electric range and about another 75 miles from its two-cylinder range-extending engine--quite different indeed from the large luxury SUVs that represent the coming crop of plug-in hybrids from German makers.