Hybrids, Diesels & Performance Redefined

Although it may be apples and oranges, hybrids and diesels are somewhat comparable and competitive (as regards things like price premium, fuel efficiency, and reduced emissions). But they offer different—quite different—performance attributes, with the diesel being far more robust than the hybrid, assuming that the hybrid in question is focused on fuel efficiency (e.g., Prius) rather than speed (e.g., Lexus GS 450h).   Audi is a proponent of diesels, and about half the cars it sells in Europe—and know that Audi is actually the #1 luxury brand Over There, not the marque that you probably think is the luxury leader in Europe—are compression-ignition powered.

Although it may be apples and oranges, hybrids and diesels are somewhat comparable and competitive (as regards things like price premium, fuel efficiency, and reduced emissions). But they offer different—quite different—performance attributes, with the diesel being far more robust than the hybrid, assuming that the hybrid in question is focused on fuel efficiency (e.g., Prius) rather than speed (e.g., Lexus GS 450h).

 

T

Audi is a proponent of diesels, and about half the cars it sells in Europe—and know that Audi is actually the #1 luxury brand Over There, not the marque that you probably think is the luxury leader in Europe—are compression-ignition powered. That’s right: diesels.

 

A

Recently, Johan de Nysschen, president of Audi of America, stated with some insistence, “Nobody rushes out to buy a Prius because it has great performance.”

We all know why people buy Priuses, just like we know why so many buy Camrys. And conventional notions of performance and styling are probably not among what we have in mind when we think we know.

Which got me to thinking.

Could we be coming to a period when “performance” gets defined as something other than 0 to 60 times or foot-pounds of torque? Might we not be in an age when “performance” is related to the 25% or so fuel efficiency benefit provided by both diesels and hybrids?

Of course, that’s not what de Nysschen had in mind with his comment, and he’s probably right.

Although with 158,884 Priuses sold in 2008 there may have been some who thought they were getting some serious performance. . . .