Peugeot will be the first manufacturer to sell a small family car with a diesel electric-hybrid power unit. It will be a version of the new 308 model and will be on sale before the end of the decade. Peugeot does not sell in the US, but has watched the sale of hybrids such as the Prius in Europe and elsewhere. Toyota has sold about 5,000 Prius cars in the UK and more than 22,000 Prius cars in Europe. The Peugeot diesel hybrid is projected to average more that 70 mpg. It will have the lowest carbon dioxide emissions of any car except a pure electric car. Peugeot has declined for the present to quote a price stating that they are working to reduce the cost.
Meanwhile over in Japan, Toyota purchased a 5.9 share in Isuzu. Taking advantage of Isuzu’s expertise in diesels, Toyota plans to combine its Synergy hybrid drive system with a diesel engine. A Toyota subcompact with this system is reported to be available by 2010. In the US, you may has seen a diesel hybrid-electric vehicle and not realized it. City transit buses, military ground vehicles, garbage trucks, delivery trucks and etc. have been using diesel hybrids for years.
Since diesel engines run optimally at steady speed highway driving, trucks are a natural for diesel engines. Thus, the combining of the diesel engine with a electric drive system is of great benefit to the heavy trucks that must also navigate city streets with its stop and go traffic. Other manufacturers, besides Toyota and Peugeot, are also working on developing their own diesel power hybrid vehicles. They include Citroen, Ford, Opel and Volkswagen. Until 2007, most diesel fuel sold in the US is the high sulfur variety which which is starting to be phased out by law in 2010. Now cleaner diesel fuel is starting to be available nationwide. This in turn is motivating the above mentioned manufacturers to develop diesel hybrid-electric vehicles.
This new diesel fuel is an ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel with a sulfur content of less than 15 part per million. By 2010, it will take more than 53 new trucks to equal the emissions of one 1988 truck. With the increased production of clean diesel fuel, most analysts predict that diesel sales will account for more than 10 percent of the US vehicle sales by 2015. Also, since diesel fuel is less flammable and explosive than gasoline, approximately 60 percent of US school buses are powered by diesel.
In addition, diesel vehicles usually get 20 to 40 percent more miles per gallon than gasoline vehicles. According the US Environmental Protection Agency, America could save up to 1.4 million barrels of oil per day if one third of US vehicles were diesel powered. This is the amount of oil currently imported from Saudi Arabia. These figures are for pure diesel vehicles. A diesel hybrid-electric vehicle would save even more on oil.
Finally, diesel drivers have the option of fueling their vehicles with blends of biodiesel. This is a domestically produced fuel that further reduces US oil dependence. By turning to a diesel hybrid-electric vehicle, American can save money at the pump without having to sacrifice power and performance that drivers have come to expect and rely on.