German SUV hybrids

Making their debut for 2011, there are three new SUV hybrids made by German manufacturers.  While previously the domain of Japanese and American manufacturers, German automakers are beginning to offer hybrid engines for in the U.S. market.  For 2011, Volkwagen will include a hybrid engine for its Touareg mid-size SUV.  The engine will share its gas-electric drive train with the Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid and the forthcoming 2011 Audi Q7 SUV.  The engine was developed jointly between the companies to lower costs. 

The hybrid engine for the Touareg will be mated to a supercharged V6 engine with combined mileage of 29 miles per gallon.  Actual mileage rates could be higher as this number does not include the vehicle’s stop-start feature, which turns the engine off during stops instead of idling.  The engine can run on electric power only on speeds up to 31 miles per hour. 

While this hybrid engine may actually gets worse mileage than the Volkswagen’s diesel-powered Touareg, it is a step forward for European hybrid engines.  Just a few years ago, German automakers scoffed at the idea of building a hybrid engine, preferring diesels.  However, the engine’s success has compelled German manufacturers to work quickly release hybrid engines.  Mercedes-Benz now offers its ML450 SUV and BMW offers a hybrid engine in its X6 SUV model. 

The improved mileage of hybrid engines will help European auto manufacturers to meet stringent 2016 U.S. fuel standards.  By offering both diesel and hybrid engines, these manufacturers can compete in both categories while offering more fuel-efficient engines.  They are also working to develop diesel-electric hybrids for even better fuel economy.

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