To most, hybrid vehicles like the Prius are a step in the right direction towards a future of ‘greener’ motoring but a new study has found that such cars are actually holding back other alternative powertrain technologies like hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and all-electric cars. French researchers have found that a “misinformed craze” surrounding hybrids has delayed other technologies and is drawing a majority of research dollars.

Petrol-electric hybrids are not environmentally sustainable because they still rely on fossil fuels, however carmakers are still pouring millions of dollars into improving the technology instead of focusing on better alternatives. There’s also the fact that many modern diesel vehicles and even some petrol compact cars achieve much better mileage figures than hybrid halo cars like the Prius.

Consumers are convinced that hybrids are the solution, researchers Jean-Jacques Chanaron and Julius Teske claim in their paper Hybrid Vehicles: A Temporary Step."There is a general convergence of strategies toward promoting hybrid vehicles as the mid-term solution to very low-emissions and high-mileage vehicles," the researchers say. "But a convergence is based more on customer perception triggered by very clever marketing and communications campaigns than on pure rational scientific arguments and may result in the need for any manufacturer operating in the U.S. to have a hybrid electric vehicle in its model range in order to survive."

Fortunately, there are carmakers out there pushing for alternatives. We’ve already seen Tesla’s all-electric roadster and next month Pininfarina will unveil a 700hp fuel-cell concept so there is some light at the end of the tunnel.