First cup holders, then grocery-getter SUVs, now hybrids. The U.S. market seems to have dragged German automotive manufacturers kicking and screaming yet again as the Germans ramp up for production of hybrid vehicles, spurred on by the desires of the U.S. marketplace and key alliances. As everyone knows by now, GM, DaimlerChrysler and BMW have teamed up, and Audi, VW and Porsche have done the same. The cards are on the table — who will be first to win the pot?

Audi's Q7 may be first German vehicle with a production hybrid version scheduled for the 2008 model year, but Mercedes-Benz will give the other company a run for its money with the hybrid S-class unveiled at Frankfurt this year. Additionally, and this may be a pipe dream, the Germans may find a way to bring diesel hybrids to the U.S. assuming they fix the little emissions problems nagging their entry.

So who will be first, and what form will the hybrid take? Our vote is for a diesel hybrid Golf that could potentially embarass the Prius offering more power, subtlety and possibly greater efficiency than the current runaway hybrid sales leader.

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