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Car manufacturers call on Government to boost plug-in hybrid sales

Published 06 August 2019

The Government is being urged to introduce incentives to counteract a sharp drop in the number of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles being sold in the UK.

Just 2268 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) were registered in July - less than half compared to the same period in 2018, despite a number of new PHEV models going on sale.

>> Government criticised for scrapping plug-in car grant

Figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that just 14,923 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) were registered between January and July 2019, compared to 21,200 during the first seven months of 2018.

It comes after the Government controversially scrapped its grant for plug-in hybrid vehicles. Buyers could previously claim up to £4500 off the retail price but incentives were dropped last year in a bid to encourage people to invest in zero-emission vehicles including pure-electric cars.

"Almost one in three UK consumers are undecided about the fuel type of their next car."

Mitsubishi, which sells the popular Outlander PHEV in the UK, has previously expressed its 'surprise and disappointment' at the decision. 

"Instead of growing, the market share of plug-in vehicles is now shrinking which makes it difficult to understand how this can be considered progress," said Mitsubishi Motors in the UK managing director, Rob Lindley.

"We are calling on the Government to work with the industry to put together a package of incentives to encourage the adoption of all progressive technologies and outline how this plan would move drivers to a pure EV future over the course of the next decade, for example."

Mercedes -e 300de

The National Franchised Dealers Association, which represents UK car dealers, is urging the Government to establish clear policies around alternatively-fuelled vehicles.

“Our data suggests that almost one in three UK consumers are undecided about the fuel type of their next car," said the association's director, Sue Robinson.

"While franchised retailers continue to work hard to inform their customers, a stable political and economic environment, with clear policies, is essential to support our industry going forward."

Plug-in hybrids combine an electric motor with a petrol or diesel engine and can be charged like an electric car. When charged, they can travel further under electric power alone than a conventional hybrid, with many PHEVs now capable of travelling close to 30 miles on a charge.

Popular with company car drivers for their favourable tax rates, plug-in hybrids can be thirstier than equivalent diesel cars when they're not charged - leading to criticism from owners.

What are the advantages of PHEVs?

PHEVs work well for drivers with a very specific set of needs. If you can charge a vehicle at home and have a short commute, a plug-in hybrid might work well for you. If you work less than 15 miles from home, you might be able to commute entirely under electric power, saving you fuel costs.

>> Top 10 plug-in hybrids

Unlike electric cars, however, PHEVs have the benefit of a conventional petrol or diesel engine. This means you can cover a long journey if required without having to stop to charge the car. Many people see PHEVs as a good introduction to alternatively-fuelled vehicles for buyers who aren't ready for a battery-electric vehicle.

Comments

P Menzies    on 5 August 2019

Would I buy a vehicle that carts around a large battery that when new may give a 30 mile range, with all the technology needed to make it work or not work? No. Anything the government and big business is in favour of has got to be a con. Ask yourself would you buy a 3 or 4 year old computer on wheels because that what it is, so who wants to buy your old PHEV or battery car.
Modern car technology is almost unrepairable at reasonable cost so why make it even more complicated.

Johnd44    on 5 August 2019

I am sure that the future will be electric cars of various forms depending on the type of driving you do. I would have to drive a PHEV as at least twice a year I drive approx 1000 miles which an all electric car would take for ever. I usually have a couple of stopovers on route but these are on Ferries so I would need to be able to charge up while on the 8 - 10 hour crossings to get the most out of the electric option, I do not think that this is yet available but I am sure they will soon install the facilities. This still means I would have to be able to charge as I went along as stopping every 50 - 100 miles to re charge would not be an option so a PHEV is my next option. Unless the choices change radically in the next 12 - 24 months it is likely to be the Mitsubushi Outlander PHEV as I also need the size.

P Menzies    on 5 August 2019

I'm in a similar position,driving to a holiday home in Italy. The journey takes 2 days and 950 miles. Before anybody says fly drive, for us it's not practical.

Peter Walker    on 5 August 2019

Until the technology answers the four key question - Range, Charging time, battery life and poor second hand values, the only way I would ever buy an electric or hybrid car was if I was forced to by the total banning of petrol or diesel. Fortunately at my age I may just avoid that draconian action. I am unlikely to be on this planet when motorways have ten mile tail backs at filling stations while all these electric vehicles queue to charge up at 45 minutes plus each and we have blackouts because the National Grid cannot supply sufficient electricity for this new demand. As usual this is a programme thought up by "sit in a bubble" Civil Servants who live in the South East and rarely get in a car, and supported by pathetic politicians who want to be seen as friends of he planet and rarely think ahead further than the next General Election.

Robert McAuley    on 5 August 2019

Until the technology answers the four key question - Range, Charging time, battery life and poor second hand values, the only way I would ever buy an electric or hybrid car was if I was forced to by the total banning of petrol or diesel. Fortunately at my age I may just avoid that draconian action. I am unlikely to be on this planet when motorways have ten mile tail backs at filling stations while all these electric vehicles queue to charge up at 45 minutes plus each and we have blackouts because the National Grid cannot supply sufficient electricity for this new demand. As usual this is a programme thought up by "sit in a bubble" Civil Servants who live in the South East and rarely get in a car, and supported by pathetic politicians who want to be seen as friends of he planet and rarely think ahead further than the next General Election.

Another excellent, sensible, knowledgeable comment.

ThudnBlundr    on 5 August 2019

What a silly post. Please get your facts right before posting such inaccuracies. Do you work for Boris Johnson?

First of all hybrid vehicles can use the existing infrastructure. We pay 20% of the costs that dino-juice users pay per mile when using our PHEV on batteries, but get 50mpg on a long run in hybrid mode - and that’s in a 4x4. What an awful compromise!

What poor secondhand values are you describing? The 2015 Zoe we bought 18 months ago is worth more than we paid for it, even with the 17k extra miles! Secondhand prices have gone up 30% like for like!

The National Grid has been planning for the increase in EV use for years, so maybe they might have a better idea of how to manage future demand than a self-confessed Luddite.

And you’re assuming that no new technology and no new infrastructure appears in the next few years. They said the same things about having to buy petrol from chemists 100-odd year ago, yet we seem to have found a workable solution!

Robert McAuley    on 5 August 2019

Would I buy a vehicle that carts around a large battery that when new may give a 30 mile range, with all the technology needed to make it work or not work? No. Anything the government and big business is in favour of has got to be a con. Ask yourself would you buy a 3 or 4 year old computer on wheels because that what it is, so who wants to buy your old PHEV or battery car. Modern car technology is almost unrepairable at reasonable cost so why make it even more complicated.

Great comment as they're only for the gullible.

Dan Johns    on 5 August 2019

My wife and I own 2 PHEVs (Outlander and Kia Optima) and all I can say is that you shouldn’t criticise until you’ve tried. I live 5 miles from the nearest town with no bus service so are dependent on our cars to get around. We can travel to the shops, to family etc. all on electric power and should we need to go further then the engine allows unlimited distances as in a normal car i.e. on holiday to France. Depending on the journeys we frequently go weeks without using petrol and filling the car is a rare thing, so in my honest opinion buying the PHEVs is the best thing we’ve ever done - motoring wise that is!
The PHEV concept makes far more sense than pure electric.

Edited by Dan Johns on 05/08/2019 at 17:18

David Michael Smith    on 5 August 2019

The Outlander PHEV has benefitted from the tax regime for company cars. For short journeys they are great but if most of your journeys are 100+ miles then you are hauling extra battery around for not much gain. A standard hybrid is cheaper and overall lifetime costs will be less.

i3 Driver    on 5 August 2019

I can understand many of the comments above, however for 95% of many peoples journeys an EV or hybrid would be fine. I have driven a hybid i3 for the last 2 and a half years and covered 36000 miles using 70 litres of fuel, I rarely do more than 100miles a day and can top up at work. Our second car is due for replacement and I am seriously contemplating replacing this with a 100electric vehicle. The savings in fuel are so massive that then going to hire a standard car for the 2-3 weeks a year where a conventional engine is best suited means the costs are more than covered.
Then take in the grants on purchase on 100% electric, the minimal service requirements (every other year) zero road tax, 100% allowable on a business year one. Then it also means you can hire a car exactly for what you need on those long journeys.....and use a vehicle more sensibly specified for those many local journeys.

Agave House    on 6 August 2019

I'm glad you mentioned government incentives because the car scrappage scheme is one of the worst forms of government incentive...the forced destruction of vehicles with a much longer life is environmentally unsound for the vast amount of energy that is required in a vehicles production. It causes redirection and mis allocation of capital into the hands of private companies (a subsidy) which actually inflates the price of new vehicles and does not do the consumer any favours - all under the guise of it being a virtuous act..

I shall be driving my 12 year old petrol car until it literally falls apart because no matter what the amount of energy consumed in the lifetime of that vehicle (if I ever manage to reach 250,000 miles on the clock) will never justify the actual cost of bringing another vehicle into existence both from an environmental and financial standpoint, yes I ve done the Maths..

I'm not anti electric vehicles what I'm anti is encouraging the premature and unnecessary demise of perfectly working vehicles which have already had a massive environmental cost in their production that lessens per mile of use from about 100,000 to 200,000. Whereas simply scrapping a vehicle at 100,000 or less bringing a new car into the world with its high environmental production impact is not actually doing the world a favour.

However if one is in the market for a new vehicle because you have shaged the life out of yyour car then yes I do see the sense of adopting new technology but just don't buy into this forced destruction of vehicles which are perfectly fine for another 10 to 15 years...least of all don't be one those people who change their EV car every few years which is simply encouraging more destructive consumerism..You would be badly missing the point ..

Let existing ICE vehicles live out their natural lifetime and become extinct all in good time...

Edited by Agave House on 06/08/2019 at 07:54

Husbandofstinky    on 6 August 2019

Great post and to the bigger picture where most in their consumerist bubble would never even contemplate.

Agave House    on 6 August 2019

One thing I forgot to mention which is often overlooked is where does all the energy come from manufacturing these cars.....you have to extract iron ore out of the ground you have to melt steel, operate machinery to fabricate the raw materials... Where is this all being done China, Hungary, Mexico South America,.. how do they generate the electricity for the plants...if the power source comes from the national Grid and you're in a country that doesn't use much renewable energy then for every car that you're producing you're creating carbon dioxide emissions....so all these electric cars being manufactured have already had a massive effect on the environment before they've even been driven....and once they are driven where are they getting charged from oh yeah that's right the national Grid... where does the electricity come from on the national Grid is it from a no carbon renewable energy source....hmmm Oh well not really as in the UK...so you might be spewing out less exhaust emissions in town but overall are you really consuming less carbon dioxide.... If a faraway power plant is doing the same damage simply supplying you the energy to power your vehicle ??

The argument for buying a second-hand petrol or diesel vehicle still stacks up on environmental grounds when you take all this into consideration.... until government's move to renewable energy across the globe going electric ain't so green..

Unfortunately the average Joe willl never be enlightened because they are lazy thinkers, never taking the time to think deeply enough about most things..

Edited by Agave House on 06/08/2019 at 21:23

Johnno431    on 6 August 2019

I am currently planning to buy a new car and would like to choose a plug in hybrid as my daily commute is only 20 miles but here’s the reason I probably will not go for the plug in - Price !
The model I’m looking at is priced nearly £5000 more than the pure petrol version !!
It also takes the list price above the £40k tax penalty threshold so would add a further cost penalty to the plug in option.

Falkirk Bairn    on 6 August 2019

Mitsubishi did amazingly the 1st couple of years on
1) Government handouts
2) Company drivers lowering their tax
3) Initial view of really good mpg

Today
1) No Government grants
2) Lower tax but a beast of a car to lug round especially
as many company car drivers treated it as petrol & never plugged it in
3) Real mpg not as good as imagined - some petrol cars can get near that

I noticed lots on sale pre-reg - a less than was advertised 12 mths back - prices of pre reg cars with £7+K off Outlander 4H for under £32K with no miles on clock

Lee Power    on 6 August 2019

Totally useless for me as the design of the early 1970s council estate where I live means I cant park my car anywhere near to plug it in to charge it up.

The council also wont allow charger installation in one of its rented garages.

There are also only 3 charger points in the work car park.

I'll stick to petrol power as it's much more convenient & overall cheaper for me.

Engineer Andy    on 6 August 2019

Oh yeah, subsidising people who can easily afford a car that costs well over £30k. All they'd be doing is (yet again) subsiding the rich with money from everyone.

Besides, the main issue is sufficient charging stations, and as I've said on this site in the forum MANY times, who's gonna pay for all the charging stations and the connected infrastructure, especially for flats, terraced housing and council houses, never mind find the space for them all and make them 100% secure and vandal-proof in such areas?

I live in a flat and we'd all have to shell out £00ks to pay for the charging stations for each flat and to dig up the roads/paths/gardens (including uprooting trees and bushes), install the new cabling, charging stations and reconfigure/relay all new roadways and pathways, because there just isn't the room to install the charging stations without HUGE (and very expensive) changes to the layout of the development.

Not everyone has that sort of cash available, nor can we just borrow the money. There's just no co-ordination or planning of the change to EVs, which manufacturers are trying to push WAY too soon because they, like the 'green' firms, want to make huge profits from government subsidies when very few people will benefit from the changeove, and 95% of them are more than wealthy enough to be able to afford the full price of the tech.

Agave House    on 6 August 2019

Once these low emission zones start kicking in across the towns and cities we will end up where the wealthy will be the ones driving their expensive EV hybrid vehicles on the empty roads at the expense of all those having to pay for public transport because they can't afford to drive their older vehicles made obsolete through ever tighter regulation..

Engineer Andy    on 7 August 2019

Once these low emission zones start kicking in across the towns and cities we will end up where the wealthy will be the ones driving their expensive EV hybrid vehicles on the empty roads at the expense of all those having to pay for public transport because they can't afford to drive their older vehicles made obsolete through ever tighter regulation..

Exactly my point as well. The daft thing is, as many have said, is that most PHEVs rarely get charged and they then drive soley on their ICE engines, which means that they are ironically LESS fuel efficient and MORE polluting than ordinary ICE engined versions because the PHEVs have to lug the considerable extra weight of the EV batteries around that are essentially dead weight.

Agave House    on 7 August 2019

Once these low emission zones start kicking in across the towns and cities we will end up where the wealthy will be the ones driving their expensive EV hybrid vehicles on the empty roads at the expense of all those having to pay for public transport because they can't afford to drive their older vehicles made obsolete through ever tighter regulation..

Exactly my point as well. The daft thing is, as many have said, is that most PHEVs rarely get charged and they then drive soley on their ICE engines, which means that they are ironically LESS fuel efficient and MORE polluting than ordinary ICE engined versions because the PHEVs have to lug the considerable extra weight of the EV batteries around that are essentially dead weight.

I couldn't agree with you more requiring the energy to lug a heavy battery around its bonkers..

The marketing guys working for these car companies must be working overtime...when everyone works out that the emperor's wearing no clothes it's game over for PHEVs !!

Ben79    on 6 August 2019

Haven't we read that most plug in hybrids aren't ever plugged in?

jeremy Taffel    on 9 August 2019

Many of these posts sound sensible until you have detailed knowledge of the product...

I drive a Kia Niro PHEV an ex-demonstrator which I picked up for a reasonable price. It is not a company car!
Yes it's a complex piece of engineering, but I have a 7 year warranty from Kia, so little to worry about there. So far it has been more reliable than the diesels I drove previously (Do you think that a truly compliant Euro 6 Diesel is not complex? -why do you think there have been so many issues with so many of the VWs following the modifications since the "cheat" scandal was uncovered).

I charge at home - mainly from solar power at this time of year, and that gives me over 30 miles worth of free fuel and more importantly pollution-free driving every day around town. It is enough for much of my day to day driving. Once a week or so I have a round trip of ~100 miles; half on motorway and without worrying about speed, average around 93 mpg. Since purchasing the car the average fuel economy has been ~120 mpg.

We went on holiday from SW Herts to the Lakes, then to Skye, and Edinburgh, before returning home. 1700 miles over 3 weeks, with few opportunities to charge the battery, a mixture of fast roads and steep hills, but still averaged 63 mpg and 550 miles between refueling.

The standard HEV has a much smaller battery and achieves better fuel efficiency after those first 30 miles or so. However, it is only on a drive of over about 200 miles that it will use less fuel overall. So much for it being bonkers to lug a heavy battery around.

So, although some people have these as company cars to take advantage of government incentives, and perhaps don't charge the cars very often, they still will achieve diesel-like fuel efficiency without producing the diesel pollution.

For the rest of us, they simply provide low cost, low emissions motoring, but the issue is that the purchase price makes them an expensive choice to buy from new. the full list price is £5.2k more than the equivalent HEV. Assuming the PHEV achieves 120 mpg and the HEV achieves 68, and that a gallon of petrol costs £5.70. then the break-even point if purchasing from new compared with a standard hybrid is about 143K miles. If the PHEV used no petrol at all, it would still take 62k miles, or over 2000 journeys of 30 miles to break even.

So, my conclusion is that until affordable EVs can achieve the combination of range and fast charge required for the long trips, then PHEV is the best technical compromise currently available. If the government is serious about tackling emissions then it should reintroduce a subsidy on the initial purchase. £3-4k would bring the break-even point on cost compared with an HEV down to 30k miles or so. Without the subsidy, the PHEV just is not cost attractive except as a company car or to avoid the London Congestion Charge

barrie crowther    on 28 August 2019

Nobody has mentioned the health benefits of electric vehicles especially to children as being closer to the ground they breath in more contaminated air. In generating electricity at the powerstation yes CO2 is produced there but our congested cities will remain clear. But like most comments I can't afford a clean electric car.

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