It may be the culture or it may be engineering, but you don't see a lot of hybrids in Europe.
European manufacturers and consumers are convinced that their best solution to the high price of oil is to use a diesel engine in passenger cars. More than half of the cars sold in Europe have diesel engines.
There is a real price advantage to buying diesel fuel in Europe. With the lower price and higher mileage, diesel engines make sense.
The Japanese have had the same experience with diesel engines that we have in the United States, and they also consider diesels to be loud and smelly, using fuel that is not easily obtainable.
For them and for us, the hybrid seems to be a much more acceptable alternative for folks who are looking for a high-mileage, low-emissions vehicle. It appears that the emissions rules for diesels differ in Europe, Japan and the United States.
But regardless of the cultures and the rules, hybrids have made just about no inroads in Europe. European car buyers seem content with diesel-powered cars, large and small.
For the Japanese brands to be successful in Europe, they must find a source for diesel engines. Otherwise the market will ignore their offerings regardless of quality and value.
So a lot of Japanese vehicles are being sold in Europe with all sorts of diesel engines.
America had its opportunities with diesels some years ago, and all of them were disastrous. That's a shame, because the diesel engine makes such good sense in the United States for pickups and SUVs. But consumers here have long memories, and they don't seem interested in diesels for their passenger cars.
Certainly the difference in fuel prices is a great incentive for diesels in Europe, but even the most ardent environmentalists are not embracing hybrids there.
This is another great example of understanding the local market and selling locally. You might want to think globally, but you have to still think locally if you want to succeed.