Analysis
14 May 19

Do PHEV drivers actually plug in their cars?

Mitsubishi has hit back at claims that drivers of its plug-in hybrid vehicles do not actually plug them in.

The manufacturer commissioned a survey of the drivers of its Outlander PHEV to investigate how frequently drivers recharged the batteries.

The findings revealed that 68% of drivers plugged their PHEV in daily, and 90% charged up their cars two to three times per week.

Fuel card data challenges PHEV claims

Figures released by fuel monitoring specialist TMC 18 months ago had indicated that the fuel consumption of seven different makes and model of PHEV suggested the cars were typically run only on their internal combustion engines, making them among the highest emission cars on the road. Their real world performance averaged 6.3l/100km (45mpg), producing carbon dioxide emissions of 168 grammes per kilometre, compared to official figures of 2.2l/100km 9130mpg) and 55g/km.

This led to suggestions that company car drivers were choosing PHEVs to cut their benefit in kind tax bills, rather than to lower their emissions and carbon footprint.

Paul Hollick, Managing Director of TMC, said: “There is a real risk that fleet managers are adopting a PHEV strategy for completely the right reasons but unknowingly actually increasing their fuel bills, while the only beneficiary is the driver paying lower BIK on the car. PHEVs can be a cost-effective choice where drivers cover only moderate mileages; but only if the cars’ batteries are recharged daily. On the evidence of our sample, one has to question whether some PHEVs ever see a charging cable.”

PHEV subsidies cut

The UK government has since abolished grants for PHEVs with a zero emission range of less than 112km (70 miles), following a similar policy in the Netherlands. British company car drivers do, however, continue to enjoy tax benefits from choosing a PHEV.

The Outlander PHEV has a zero emission range of 45km (28 miles per charge). Mitsubishi said plug-in hybrid vehicles have both an immediate beneficial environmental impact, and also provide a stepping stone to a battery electric future, familiarising drivers with EV technology. According to its survey, Mitsubishi said a quarter of Outlander PHEV owners would consider a pure electric vehicle for their next or future car purchase.

The research also found that 97% of Outlander PHEV drivers recharged their cars at home, highlighting the importance of off-street parking to the EV market.

How often do Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV customers charge their vehicles?

Twice per day or more

11%

Once a day

56%

2-3 times per week

22%

Once a week

6%

Once every 2 weeks

1%

Once every 3-4 weeks

1%

Less often than monthly

1%

Never

1%

Source: Kadence International

Authored by: Jonathan Manning
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