Diesel engines have traditionally delivered better fuel mileage than their gas counterparts, and today, thanks to technology, their emissions output rivals gas powertrains. Adding an electric hybrid system to a diesel would, therefore, seem to make sense—a green car with superb fuel economy.
For years, Volkswagen has showcased a number of diesel-hybrid concept vehicles. That might give you the impression that VW dealers will soon have them in their showrooms. Repeat after me: That’s not going to happen.
VW spokesperson that recently told Great Britain’s Autocar that “diesel hybrids still don’t make good business sense.” The spokesperson continued by saying, “The higher cost of clean diesel technology would make them even more expensive than petrol-electric cars. The markets where hybrids are most popular are also the ones where diesels are least popular.”
Keep those business realities in mind the next time you see a diesel-hybrid concept at an auto show.
At the same time, don’t expect VW and others to stop parading the diesel-hybrid combo, like they did in 2008 when it introduced the Golf TDI Hybrid Concept and its 69 mpg at the Geneva Motor Show. A couple months later, green car fans really got in a lather about the possibility of the plug-in Golf Twin Drive diesel electric with a lithium-ion battery pack.
Or, how about last year at the Frankfurt show with the unveiling of the bullet-shaped L1 diesel-electric hybrid that dished out a whopping 157.8 miles per gallon, had a top speed of 100 mph and an “impressive” driving range of 416 miles. And that wasn’t all. Three month later in Los Angeles, VW took the wraps off the Up! Lite, a three-door, four-passenger city car with a diesel hybrid system capable of 70 mpg on the highway.
Of course we’re wondering why Volkswagen put all of the time, money and engineering resources in to developing these concept vehicles, when shortly after the Golf TDI Hybrid Concept was revealed in 2008, the company was quoted in Auto, Motor und Sport that they wouldn’t build the car because it would be “too expensive.”
Oh well. That’s show business.