Hybrids, with or without plugs, are comparatively rare on European roads, but Automotive News believes that’s about to change, as EU limits on CO2 emissions become stricter, forcing Continental automakers to electrify.
German and French automakers dominate the market in Europe, and diesels have long been their chosen solution, accounting for half of new-car sales in the region. Toyota, purveyor of the perennially popular Prius, is a minor player there, compared to the US. However, regulators will also be tightening limits on nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions, which will reduce the environmental advantage of diesels.
Renault has announced plans for a range of hybrids, and showcased a PHEV concept called the Eolab at the recent Paris auto show. Europe’s biggest automaker, Volkswagen, launched its Golf GTE plug-in hybrid in August, and plans to bring a plug-in Passat GTE to market in October 2015. VW Group’s Audi and Porsche brands already offer plug-in hybrid models.
VW CEO Martin Winterkorn recently told Die Welt that hybrids will become more affordable as sales increase. Meanwhile, Head of Powertrain Development Dr Heinz-Jakob Neusser said plug-in hybrids are a transitional technology that will eventually be replaced by pure EVs.
The European news isn’t all positive for PHEVs. GM recently announced plans to discontinue the Opel Ampera, thanks to unimpressive sales. Perhaps the next-generation Volt will have better luck in Europe when it goes on sale in a year or two.