Car Culture

In Europe, the hybrids are coming

At the 2010 Geneva auto show, Opel, Audi, BMW, Volkswagen, Toyota, Lexus, and Chevrolet all show off hybrids.

Chevrolet Volt
Chevy showed off the Volt in Geneva, along with its Opel equivalent, the Ampera. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

GENEVA--As hybrids gained ascendancy in the U.S., Europe showed little interest, with diesels proving more popular. But if the 2010 Geneva auto show is any indication, that preference is about to change.

Toyota showed two hatchback hybrids, one under its own brand and one as a Lexus, with both building on the successful Prius power train. BMW and Audi both showed luxury hybrid sedans as concepts, with feature lists that show them ready for production, and Volkswagen announced a hybrid version of its Touareg SUV.

Chevrolet is growing its presence, and brought its Volt to the show, while Opel's Volt equivalent, the Ampera, drove over 300 miles from Germany to Switzerland as a publicity stunt to show the practicality of the car. The Volt and Ampera are the only ones of the current crop to use series hybrid technology, with the wheels driven solely by electric power.

This influx of hybrids can be explained by upcoming European emissions regulations, which are likely to put a damper on diesel production.