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Hooniverse Asks: Could diesel hybrids have worked?

Let’s say that Dieselgate never happened. In that world of folks still happily snapping up oil burners, do you think the diesel hybrid would’ve landed here in the States? It almost seems like a no-brainer to pair the torquey punch and strong range of a diesel engine with even more torque and range that could be had when paired with batteries and electric motors.

But the flip side here is that we may not have seen automakers pushing so hard to develop the motors and battery packs. So it’s a bit of a double-edged sword now. Dieselgate coupled with Tesla’s rise and hand-forcing legacy automakers into the EV space has both accelerated the electric vehicle timetable.

So would the diesel hybrid ever found favor or been a consideration at all? Would it wind up one of those weird European-only models of a standard vehicle that gets that forbidden fruit tag for enthusiasts in North America?

What do you think… could diesel hybrids have worked?

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5 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: Could diesel hybrids have worked?”

  1. Pinkerton9 Avatar

    Considering that locomotive engines in the USA are diesel electric hybrids, and every possible angle of efficiency has been evaluated to get to that point, I absolutely think that it could have worked. Diesel electric locomotives lack battery storage, as the electricity generated goes into propelling the train. Batteries could eventually be added to locomotives too, but that tech makes even more sense in automobiles.

  2. Sjaliesel Avatar

    Most definitely, seeing that the best diesels already had unfathomably low fuel consumption without a hybrid setup – over 60 US mpg on family wagons. Norwegian legislation famously favoured diesels before petrol engines right until they didn’t; the incentives than flipped and went crazy on EVs instead. A Volvo V70 DrivE with the 1.6 PSA diesel could be had for 330k NOK – doesn’t tell most people much, but just imagine that this efficient diesel went for a discount of 40% to a similar gas driven car. That Francoswede was rated at 62.8 mpg.

    Btw, fun fact, last week I met a friend from high school whom I hadn’t seen for ten years. He works in Wolfsburg with engine flow optimization and has colleagues named in that indictment. Swears he knew nothing about it, but this scandal as a whole may just as well be attributed to the end of an era.

  3. danleym Avatar

    I dont understand why they never happened. Diesels get better economy than gas engines. Pair that with a hybrid, and you should have even better economy than the average Prius. Then again, I dont understand why we never saw more diesels here in the States to begin with.

  4. outback_ute Avatar

    Turbodiesels cost more to build, plus add the cost of the hybrid; ain’t gonna be cheap

    There were some sold in Australia even (M-B & RR) and more in Europe.

  5. Autononomos Avatar

    Could they have worked? Yes. Would they be mass-market affordable? No. The problem with trying to produce a diesel engine today is that the engine is enormously expensive. To meet emissions, the engine needs to be paired with an exhaust system that is also enormously expensive. If you add a motor and battery to it the cost is unaffordable to all but a tiny segment of the passenger vehicles.

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