The 3008 Hybrid4 is Peugeot’s offering of the world’s first diesel-powered hybrid. While other hybrid cars use a gasoline engine, Peugeot’s hybrid combines the turbo diesel unit designed to drive the front wheels with the electric motor that powers the rear axle. The car is more fuel efficient than other hybrids and also offers a four-wheel drive mode.

The diesel engine is connected to a gearbox that is electronically controlled but can also be operated manually in a six-speed sequential system. The kinetic energy produced during deceleration is transformed into electrical energy that can recharge nickel metal hydride batteries. The hybrid offered by Peugeot can operate in front-wheel drive only, rear-wheel drive only or all-wheel drive modes.

European sales will begin in spring 2011. In the United States, however, hybrid sales have fallen in recent years. It seems that some hybrid buyers prefer fully electric cars.

The first hybrid car in the United States was the Honda Insight sold in December 1999. A decade later, one and a half million hybrids were sold in the United States. Over the next decade, automakers will offer a variety of electric or hybrid cars to satisfy consumers interested in using more environmentally friendly vehicles.

The 2011 Fisker Karma will be the first car to be produced this year. However, it is quite expensive because it will be sold in small quantities. 2010 Chevy Volt Mania will begin rolling off the line in November. Nissan’s all-electric Leaf will also launch in late 2010.

Toyota’s hegemony in hybrids will be challenged by new automakers interested in serving the hybrid market. Hyundai’s first gasoline-electric car, the Sonata Hybrid, is also slated for late 2010. Fuel economy is expected to improve 20-25% in the Sonata Hybrid.

Honda has focused on smaller, more affordable hybrids. The 2011 Honda CR-Z Hybrid and Honda Fit Hybrid are expected in fall 2010. The CR-Z Hybrid was unveiled at the 2008 Tokyo Auto Show and would be the only hybrid with a manual transmission.

The Mercedes-Benz ML450 Hybrid was unveiled at the New York Auto Show in 2009 and would be the first vehicle to offer gasoline, diesel and hybrid alternatives.

The BMW X6 Hybrid and Active 7 offer greater power, luxury but also fuel efficiency. ActiveHybrid 7 will be the fastest-accelerating hybrid sedan.

A hybrid version of the Dodge Ram pickup is scheduled to be released in 2010 by Chrysler. GM’s hybrid pickup, Chevy Silverado Hybrid doesn’t sell very well in the US.

Before the end of 2010, Porsche will introduce the Cayenne S Hybrid, which uses a supercharged, direct injection Audi V6 engine in conjunction with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Toyota Prius is the best-selling hybrid and it will continue to evolve as well. A plug-in version of the Prius is expected to overcome the challenges of the competition.

Hybrids of all shapes and sizes, from low-cost to high-powered ones, to cars that run on electric power alone, are likely to flood the market for years to come.