The latest Toyota Prius is the third generation of an iconic car that has transformed the way Americans view the raw stuff that powers a car.
It has opened the door (no make that slammed opened the door) to all electric vehicles (EVs) like the Tesla and the new mostly electric GM Volt, not to mention the dozens of other hybrids from Toyota, Lexus, Ford, Nissan, and Honda to name just a few of the brands that now sell popular hybrids and yet…
The German manufactures seem hell bent on diesel technology as the way to the future.
1997—that's when the first Prius was introduced in Japan and a dozen years later the German car manufactures, as well as most of the European brands, don't have anything to compete against the Prius.
Sure Mini has an eMini but a reliable source inside the German run and owned automaker tells me the company honchos consider the car more of a green "feel good" marketing play than a real new car project.
And sure Mercedes has just come out with a mild hybrid S class, but once again it is only in limited production on the most expensive Merc model.
From Volkswagen to Porsche to BMW the Germans seem to have placed all of their real bets on the new diesel technology as the way to the sustainable future.
And that bet certainly seems reasonable as Europeans love diesels. In fact sales of new diesel cars in Europe now way exceed petroleum car numbers. Perhaps the German car guys are betting that like so many other European fashions such as premium coffee and Italian designer clothes, diesel car sales will catch on in America once we figure out the massive torque and significant mileage advantage that diesels offer.
Never-mind that diesel is taxed less in Europe making it a much more viable and desirable for new car buyers.
Alas, I've got some bad for the Germans: all diesels cars have one significant disadvantage that they can't hide.
They all have a tailpipe.
Have you ever noticed how Toyota and Lexus both go out of their way to actually hide the tailpipe of their hybrids?
I can't help but recall admiring the cool white and green leaf graphics of the eco friendly VW diesel Touareg and Jetta at the local auto show.
But I also can't help thinking if they are so green and clean, why do they have that tailpipe coming out the back?
That's the problem in a nutshell—for no matter how hard the Germans car manufactures work to market diesel cars they will always have tailpipes, unlike the upcoming all electric Prius.
So in my humble opinion unless the German automakers want to write off the American car market all together they better stop their diesel binge fueling, and start employing some smart electrical engineers.
The hybrid train has left the station in America without them, and soon they'll miss the EV train as well.
Roman Mica is a columnist, journalist, and author, who spent his early
years driving fast on the German autobahn. When he's not reviewing cars
for the active set, you can find him training for triathlons and
writing about endurance sports for, EverymanTri.com. Mica is also the Endurance Sports Examiner.