Germany's Hybrid Laggards Play Catch-up

March 8, 2007: Deutsche Welle—German Carmakers Rev up Effort to Enter Hybrid Market

Mercedes Benz M-Class HyPer concept hybrid is still just that—a 2002 idea that never made it beyond the auto show circuit.

Summary: Nine years after Toyota first introduced its Prius to the world, you still can’t buy a German-made full hybrid. But with the spotlight focused on the Geneva Auto Salon, German carmakers are trying hard to look greenish.

"In fact, Germany trails the world’s automakers in terms of environmental developments, according to the German Auto Club (VCD) consumer group. The country only has one entry — VW’s Polo Blue Motion — in the list of the ten most environmentally friendly cars. Japan leads the pack with its two hybrid cars, the Toyota Prius and the Honda Civic, the group said.

"Volkswagen presented its super-efficient, ultra-low emission Blue Motion line, and VW and Porsche have announced they are working together on a line of eco-friendly cars to come out by 2008. BMW and Chrysler, meanwhile, announced plans to team up to develop a ‘mild hybrid’ transmission system for rear-wheel-drive premium cars. Even full hybrids might be on the horizon."

Rather than emulate Japanese carmakers who have seen success by enhancing fuel economy across varied product lines, it seems Germany’s auto industry is closer to the US model: keep pumping out the most historically profitable classes. In their case, that happens to be high-end fuel guzzlers. Also like Detroit, the Germans may soon be facing regulatory pressure to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by a significant amount.

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  • Alex

    This delay has always stumped me. The Europeans pay more for petrol than almost anyone else and I know half the cars run on diesel, but that fuel costs almost as much as petrol. I most likely see the Germans coming out with a diesel hybrid first before anyone else. Still, as the supposed auto capital of the world, they are not doing so well engineering wise. Remember, R&D is a company’s most valuable resource.

  • Rob Levesque

    A true car enthusiast wouldn’t dare give up the rumble of a fine German engineered gasoline powered sedan. It’s pure sacrilege. Personally, I want an electric car now. I drive a BMW and if I had the cash, I would convert the thing to electric. I love my car, but I love my children and the environment more. So I will change even if they don’t. My next car is a hybrid.

  • Susan van Rooyen

    I am a current Audi A4 owner and am in the end of my lease. I love my A4 but at what price? I’d surely lease another Audi if it was hybrid but have to consider another because I want to do my part. Is there any hope for Audi?

  • Martin Cossy

    The image depicts an A-Class (W168), the carrier of HyPer Concept.

  • Martin Cossy

    It should be W168