Americans are buying more gasoline electric hybrids, but Europeans still reckon diesel power is the best way to get value-for-money motoring, according to a report.
The Automotive Industry Data (AID) news letter calculates that Western Europeans bought only 57,400 hybrids in the first half of 2012 for a market share of 0.9 per cent. That’s a barely perceptible increase compared with the same period of 2011’s 0.8 per cent. Americans in the same period though bought close on two-thirds more hybrids than in the same period of 2011 for a total of 218,000 and a market share of three per cent, according to the AID report.
Most hybrids sold in Europe – just over 42,000 – were made by Toyota of Japan, with Honda accounting for almost all the rest. The fact Europeans aren’t getting excited about hybrids bodes ill for Audi, BMW and Porsche, which are lining up new entrants of their own.
The Prius is the biggest selling hybrid in Europe, followed by smaller Toyotas like the Auris and now the tiny Yaris. Its premium subsidiary Lexus sells a few hybrid versions of its range too, while Honda has the Jazz (Fit in the U.S.), Insight and CRZ models.
Europeans like diesels because their needs are greater than Americans. Pump prices are still more than twice as high as in the U.S. This is because in countries like Britain, taxes account for more than 70 per cent of the price. Around 50 per cent of new car sales in Europe are diesel powered.
“Unlike Japan and the U.S., where the market remains almost totally dominated by petrol (gasoline) powered cars, Europe’s car market has swung progressively towards more fuel-economical diesel fuelled cars. That’s due almost entirely to their forever improving fuel-economy, which as a general rule remains up to a third better than that of a same size petrol-fuelled car with similar power,” said Peter Schmidt, editor of AID.
Cash strapped Europeans are finding that hybrids are too expensive, don’t drive as well as diesels, as well as failing to meet diesel economy achievements.
“European motorists, alarmed no less by rocketing pump prices, continue to head en-masse into the diesel market for salvation. That’s simply because all the available information tells them that on the real-world fuel-economy front diesels still run rings around latest petrol-electric hybrids, What’s more, not only are they more fuel economical that today’s petrol-electric hybrids, they also offer a more satisfying drive. Above all else, they remain markedly cheaper to buy,” Schmidt said.
Don’t expect this to change in the near future.
“(improving diesel technology) means that hybrids’ uphill struggle in Europe is unlikely to end any time soon,” Schmidt said