PHEV buyers in the UK aren’t plugging their cars in

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Words: Nile Bijoux
16 Nov 2018

A new report has found that buyers of plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) in the UK aren’t actually using the electrical part of the equation.

Back in 2011, the UK passed a grant that knocked a cool £4,500 ($NZ8421) off the sticker price of a plug-in hybrid, undercutting comparable diesel cars by a decent margin.

The incentive worked, helping the UK become the biggest market for PHEVs. Most of the vehicles sold were to fleet companies and businesses, who tended use the vehicles for long-distance driving rather than short urban trips, which is where a PHEV shines the most.

However, it turns out many businesses took advantage of the scheme to simply get new cars on the cheap, rather than because they are fuel-sipping hybrids, data from The Miles Consultancy has shown.

It says: “Figures for 2432 hybrids - including non plug-in varieties - showed an average real-world mpg of 49.06, still vastly lower than the potential range.“There are some examples where employees aren’t even charging these vehicles up,” said Paul Hollick, The Miles Consultancy’s managing director.

“The charge cables are still in the boot, in a cellophane wrapper, while the company and the employee are going in and out of petrol stations, paying for all of this additional fuel.“ I mean, come on. They aren't even trying!

Converted to our numbers, the average fuel consumption for the 2432 hybrids converts to 4.8L/100km, a far cry from where they should be. Our own testing of the Hyundai Ioniq PHEV revealed real-world consumption numbers of 0.6L/100km.

So basically, the UK government gave discounts to companies buying large quantities of fuel-efficient cars, only for the scheme to backfire and the cars to use more fuel than a small diesel hatchback.

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