Thursday, January 21, 2021
News Plug-In Hybrids Emit Higher Emissions Than Advertised – Incentives Should Be Cut

Plug-In Hybrids Emit Higher Emissions Than Advertised – Incentives Should Be Cut

The “gateway” PHEV vehicle emits more CO2 than advertised and so should not be subsidized


  • A European climate group is calling for an end to subsidies.

  • The issue is simple: they have an internal combustion engine.


Some have disagreed with the premise behind plug-in hybrid vehicles from the onset. The reason stems mostly from the typically limited 40-km EV range. Once the battery’s reserves are depleted, the internal combustion engine fully takes over. When this happens, the engine generates greenhouse gases. Because of this, they should not be incentivized according to a European climate group.

To provide range to a PHEV, hundreds upon hundreds of pounds in batteries are added to a vehicle. As such, not only do engines eventually run but they’re tasked with carrying this extra load at all times.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8
2018 Volvo XC60 T8 | Photo: Olivier Delorme

According to Reuters, tests were conducted by Emissions Analytics, commissioned by the European campaign group Transport and Environment (T&E), on three plug-in hybrid SUV models and discovered that even under ideal driving conditions, they emitted far more CO2 than advertised.

“Plug-in hybrids are fake electric cars, built for lab tests and tax breaks, not real driving,” Julia Poliscanova, T&E’s senior director for clean vehicles said in a statement. “Governments should stop subsidizing these cars with billions in taxpayers’ money.”

The three vehicles in question are the BMW X5, Volvo XC60, and Mitsubishi Outlander. Volvo’s response to the findings said that “all Volvo cars are certified and fully comply with existing emissions legislation.” Mitsubishi was far more forward with their response, stating that independent tests can be unreliable results and that they contest the results as they had no oversight on the process.

One issue we’ve discovered with most PHEVs through our own testing is that they can consume as much fuel as the non-electrified versions of the same vehicle. Hybrids (non-plug-in) are not incentivized and provide tangible fuel economy savings, and are far less expensive.

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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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