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If you want to maximize you fuel efficiency in the city, your best bet is probably a hybrid. On the flip side of the coin, if you do most of your driving on the open road, diesel engines tend to be much more economical than their gasoline-powered siblings. What if you could combine the two, though, and end up with the best of both worlds?

While it would hardly be the first automaker to embark down that path, Autocar is reporting that General Motors is working on a diesel hybrid powertrain that could see production in various Opel and Vauxhall models (like the Astra and Insignia) sometime after 2012. Sounds good, right? Of course, there are problems to work out.

One thing that's holding all major automakers back from diesel hybrids are both development and production costs, which can be substantial since both diesels and hybrids already carry a premium over gasoline-burning engines. Maurizio Cisternino, GM of Europe's advanced technology chief engineer, has reportedly told the UK publication that the automaker is aiming for a premium of 1,000 euros (£880 or about $1,400 U.S. at current exchange rates) for the diesel hybrid over traditional hybrids, something that would be quite an achievement.

If the hybrid powertrain does come to fruition, expect it to be paired with GM's upcoming 1.6-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder, a special version of which is said to be prepared with computer controls that are compatible with The General's hybrid systems. It's also possible that a diesel engine will at some point be coupled to the automaker's Voltec powertrain as seen in the Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera.

[Source: Autocar]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      about time! in europe petrol hybrids are a bit of a joke, as we have such efficient diesels. even though diesel hybrids will only be a small improvement it may at least mean they sell over here.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If the Prius was a diesel electric hybrid (DEH) it could do up to 60 mpg (us) highway as diesels are usually 20-25% more efficient than petrol engines so presumably this proportion would still hold when comparing diesel hybrids versus petrol hybrids. The new BMW 320 ed mild hybrid is nearly as efficient as the Prius but has 160 bhp and a six speed manual gearbox, albeit at a higher price.

      Even at a cost differential of more than $1400 it could make sense especially if government rebates and other tax brakes were available. After all the Volt is likely to be nearly $40000 less the $7500 which will apparently be available.

      This is not to criticize the Volt as it wiil use less fuel then even a DEH would but at the prices expected (even after the govt credits) diesel hybrid technology could bring more efficient cras then presently exist to a wider audience.

      Apparently later this year both Peugeot and Mercedes will introduce these powertrains onto the market in the 3008 and E class respectively (see www.Autocar.co.uk)
      • 5 Years Ago
      "On the flip side of the coin, if you do most of your driving on the open road, diesel engines tend to be much more economical than their gasoline-powered siblings."

      According to the EPA testing standard, Prius gets 48 MPG (highway) and Jetta TDI gets 41 MPG (highway). Prius runs on 89 Octane gas (E10) which contains about 15 percent less energy than the more expensive Diesel fuel.

      Either highway or city, hybrid is the way to go.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You are comparing a gas hybrid with a diesel. You should be comparing a gas hybrid with a diesel hybrid which would get a lot better mpg than the prius.
        • 5 Years Ago
        100% agree and confirmed if you look at real-world mpg (check fueleconomy.org and insideline.com).

        Diesels do typically have more power if that's what is meant. So perhaps scaled on hp it might be the case.

        Supposedly these diesel hybrids are planned (announced last year):
        - Opel Corsa diesel hybrid
        - Peugeot 3008 Hybrid HY4 Diesel
        - VW Golf Tdi Diesel Hybrid
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's about time. The only problem is the initial cost tradeoff. The extra cost of a diesel, plus the extra cost of a hybrid system is going to cost several $K more, I would guess at least $6K, which would buy a lot of fuel. I am a fan of anything that uses less fuel, and this definitely will.