Monday, June 17, 2024
NewsPHEVs Cost Nearly 100% More to Refuel Annually Than Advertised

PHEVs Cost Nearly 100% More to Refuel Annually Than Advertised

Real-world data reveals significant discrepancy in fuel costs for PHEVs


A recent analysis by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) reveals that the annual cost of fueling plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) is nearly double the amount suggested by laboratory tests. This discrepancy highlights a reality that is overlooked by most automakers who sell PHEVs.

Laboratory tests and fuel consumption estimates for PHEVs typically indicate annual fuel cost saving ranging in the hundreds to a thousand dollars or more per year. However, real-world data suggests the actual cost is closer to double the amounts, say from $1,000 to almost $2,000 per year. This substantial difference is primarily due to the infrequent charging habits of PHEV owners, who tend to rely more on their vehicles’ internal combustion engines than anticipated.

PHEVs, which combine a smaller battery with an internal combustion engine, are marketed as a transitional step towards fully electric vehicles (BEVs). These hybrids are designed to be more efficient, offering fuel savings and reduced carbon emissions compared to traditional petrol only vehicles. A fully charged PHEV can travel from 40 km up to about 70 km on electric power alone, which is sufficient for most daily trips as, according to The Guardian, 94% of car journeys in England are under 25 miles or 40 km.

However, the European Commission found that real-world carbon emissions from PHEVs registered in 2021 were on average 3.5 times higher than laboratory test results. This is largely because PHEVs are not being charged and driven on electric power as frequently as expected. Despite this, PHEVs still offer fuel savings compared to standard petrol cars.

The analysis underscores the importance of accurate consumer information. Colin Walker, head of transport at the ECIU, emphasized the need for potential car buyers to be aware of the real-world performance of PHEVs. He noted that not only do these vehicles produce significantly more CO2 than manufacturers claim, but they also fall short of delivering the promised fuel savings.

Ben Nelmes, chief executive of New AutoMotive, pointed out that the increasing sales of PHEVs in Europe and the UK are driven by stricter emissions regulations. However, he argued that these hybrids are not meeting expectations in real-world conditions. Nelmes warned against laws that rely on laboratory tests, which often fail to reflect actual driving conditions, and advocated for a regulatory approach that eliminates tailpipe emissions entirely.

One way to get Canadian consumers to transition to EVs would be to completely eliminate government incentives for PHEVs. Alternatively, cut the amount drastically and offer identical incentives for ‘normal” hybrids. The latter’s advertised fuel consumption numbers are typically on the money, quite unlike PHEVs.

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Matt St-Pierre
Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai

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