The combination of electric motors and diesel engines has worked well in locomotives and heavy trucks for years, but carmakers haven’t been successful in getting beyond the concept car stage for light duty vehicles. Five years after I started writing about the potential for diesel hybrids, the passenger vehicle market is still relatively quiet — but that at last may change.
The premium paid for diesel engines and additional cost of an electric motor has scared off auto manufacturers. However, the two powertrains have compelling complementary performance characteristics. For city driving, electric motors (powered by batteries that recapture energy from frequent braking) provide needed acceleration. Diesel engines thrive in comparison to gasoline engines when hauling heavy loads and maintaining highway speeds.