Fleet News

Call for more hybrids in Europe’s volume brands

EUROPEAN fleets seeking better fuel economy for their drivers could form a big customer base for hybrid technology if manufacturers were to target the lower and upper-medium segments.

Automotive intelligence company EurotaxGlass’s says too many car makers are using the technology in large luxury cars or SUVs, which are niche models with limited sales.

Senior car editor Jeff Paterson said: ‘There is clearly now some real momentum behind hybrid product development, with new manufacturer partnerships being forged and a host of new concept vehicles being unveiled over the past six months.

‘However, the hybrid models being prepared for production indicate a heavy bias towards the tastes of the US market, with large SUVs and luxury cars often being favoured. This may make sense in a market where diesel isn’t a viable alternative, but in Europe these vehicles will not sell in significant numbers.’

The company is recommending that prestige, volume and budget-brand car manufacturers should particularly target the higher-selling lower-medium and upper-medium segments. It believes that those segments offer the best future for the hybrid as its presents a ‘tempting alternative to diesel for significant numbers of both fleet and retail buyers’.

Paterson added: ‘Those purchasing cars in these segments are among the most sensitive to vehicle fuel economy and purchase price. The selling price of an upper-medium car may be less than an SUV or luxury saloon, but the carmaker would almost certainly have the opportunity to sell them in far greater numbers.’

Current hybrid models on sale in the lower-medium segment are the Honda Civic IMA and the Toyota Prius.

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