After months of the European Commission blocking French government subsidies to fund research into diesel-hybrids, PSA Peugeot Citroen is shifting its focus from mass-market hybrid diesels to diesel-hybrids made for high-end premium vehicles according to reports in the French media.

While vehicles such as the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight focus on mass-production vehicles that are affordable to a large market, PSA Peugeot Citroen's move makes sense as small cars are already quite efficient with stand alone diesel engines while heavier premium vehicles still rely on powerful petrol engines to provide performance. Because of this shift in focus, delays to the release of hybrid-diesels from the manufacturer are likely. Previously PSA was working with automotive technology companies such as Continental and Bosch on a hybrid-diesel that would have been placed in the Peugeot 308 for a 2010 release but this deadline will no longer be met. To show it was serious about this technology, the company even produced a concept car based on its popular 308 model.

The project was supported significantly by the French government through its Agency for Industrial Innovation, which was poised to give PSA €101m, however the European Commission blocked the subsidy over competition concerns. Including the subsidy, the entire project was going to be worth around €527m, or US$838m. The block from the European commission has been hampering progress for the past 18 months, and because of this PSA will develop hybrids independently with an aim to release the new platform to the market by around 2011.

For consumers this will mean a greater variety when choosing premium vehicles that are environmentally friendly, and the combination of a diesel and electric engine should prove to be more economical than a petrol equivalent. In todays climate where nearly every manufacturer is jumping aboard the hybrid bandwagon, a 2011 release may not be soon enough for PSA to establish a dominant market, especially in the mid-premium sector, which will see competition from Toyota, Honda, and perhaps even GM.