Hybrids have the most fans among car purchasers in the U.S (50.9%) and France (46.9%) according to a survey released Jan. 30 by PULS, a German-based international market research firm. German car buyers chose diesel engines (18.4%) as the cars of the future.

More than 3,500 people who recently purchased a new car or planned to buy one were interviewed for the survey. Overall, hybrids were the car of choice (42.7%) followed by hydrogen fuel cell powered cars (41.9%.)

A smaller number of car buyers, 38.1%, perceive the future to be driven by fuel types derived from plants.

Opinions about diesel and petrol engines were surprising, according to the firm, with only 11.5% of those interviewed consider these traditional engine types to be future oriented.

Looking at the Chinese market, 50% of purchasers prefer hydrogen fuel cell compared to 5.2% who chose diesel engines.

In India, 37.6% of respondents said they believe the engine of the future will be fueled with natural gas, while 36.5% picked biological fuel types derived from plants.

"These survey results clearly show that even in emerging markets, one cannot hope to succeed in these countries with conventional petrol and diesel technology," said Dr. Konrad Wessner, owner and general manager of PULS.