This is a tough time for hybrids. Gas prices are down, the fuel economy of other vehicles is rising steadily, and the aged Toyota Prius is now six years old and on the verge of replacement.

So perhaps it's not surprising that one maker quietly withdraws a hybrid from its lineup--and a low-volume one at that.

The 2016 Volkswagen Touareg, the German maker's largest and priciest SUV, no longer includes a Touareg Hybrid in its model range this year.

DON'T MISS: 2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid: First Drive Review (Feb 2011)

Toyota, Honda, Hyundai-Kia, and Ford are persisting with their hybrid models. And General Motors is about to relaunch with the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid--using the same underlying technology as on its Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid.

But German makers have never been enthusiastic about conventional hybrids, and virtually all of their efforts now are going toward plug-in hybrids instead.

2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid

2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid

Moreover, the Volkswagen Touareg is getting close to the end of its current generation, which first went on sale for 2011. Eliminating a low-volume variant is a no-brainer.

The next Touareg will be a vehicle using some of the same underpinnings as the 2016 Audi Q7 recently introduced in Europe, and coming to the States within the year.

ALSO SEE: European Buyers To Skip Over Hybrids, Go Straight To Plug-Ins

For 2015, the Volkswagen Toureg Hybrid was rated at 21 mpg combined (20 mpg city, 24 mpg highway).

The bulk of its advantage came on the city cycle, as its combined rating was only about 10 percent higher than the standard VW Touareg at 19 mpg (17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway).

2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid

2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid

The hybrid Touareg also sat side-by-side on showroom floors with the Toureg TDI diesel, whose fuel efficiency ratings were higher yet: 23 mpg combined (20 mpg city, 29 mpg highway).

And for 2016, the diesel Touareg numbers went up slightly, to 24 mpg combined (21 mpg city, 29 mpg highway). Perhaps that was the coup de grace.

MORE: VW Touareg Hybrid Tops $100,000 in Europe, $30,000 More Than Diesel (Mar 2010)

Volkswagen is expected to launch additional hybrid models over the next five years, however, in order to meet its Corporate Average Fuel Economy requirements.

VW sells very few trucks in the U.S., so more of its model lineup has to improve in efficiency at a higher annual rate. Cars must improve by 5 percent a year, versus 3 percent for trucks.

2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid

2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid

Meanwhile, the Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid can be added to a growing list of low-volume German hybrid models that were offered for a few years, never made much impact, and then quietly exited the market.

That list includes models from BMW and Mercedes-Benz than spanned both luxury sedans and various crossover utility vehicles.

RELATED: Five Used Hybrid Cars To Consider Steering Clear Of (Jul 2012)

Audi, which offered an A6 Hybrid in Europe for a few years, never ended up offering that model here--although its Q5 Hybrid is still on sale for 2016, at least nominally.

As for the departed Touareg Hybrid: Orphan used SUV, anyone?


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