While Japanese and U.S. carmakers have laid the ground-work for the sale of petrol-electric hybrid vehicles, European carmakers are taking a slightly different route by developing diesel-electric powertrains. BMW, PSA Peugeot-Citroen and Mercedes-Benz have all unveiled diesel-electric hybrid concept vehicles with the intention the cars will eventually enter production, and now Fiat has joined the list by announcing it will develop a range of petrol-electric and diesel-electric engines by 2011.

The information comes from the CEO of Fiat Powertrain Technologies, Alfredo Altavilla, who told Automotive News Europe that research is still in the early stages and if everything proceeds as expected the first production models could be here within three years.

The engines being developed include a two-cylinder, 0.9L petrol-electric hybrid engine with a dual-clutch transmission to increase efficiency. At most this engine will emit just 90g of CO2 for every kilometer traveled, well below the limit imposed by the European Commission for 2012. Fiat is also developing a larger four-cylinder diesel-hybrid with a capacity of 2.3L.

The move comes as rising concerns over emissions has led governments around the world to crack down on manufacturer CO2 averages - leading Fiat and other major manufacturers to improve overall average emissions by commissioning smaller and more fuel efficient engines and cars. Pictured above is the Fiat Bravo, one of the first cars expected to benefit from the new hybrid powertrains.