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Mitsubishi makes the case for its plugin hybrids

Wednesday, 12th June, 2019 4:18pm

More than half of a drivers’ weekly mileage could be covered on pure electric power in a plugin-hybrid car. That’s the claim of Mitsubishi as it fights to get better incentives introduced for plugin-hybrid models.

In the UK, sales of plugin-hybrids have fallen sharply in the last month, by 34 per cent, and many are laying the blame at the door of the UK government, which removed the subsidy paid for buying a plugin-hybrid.

The argument for ending the subsidy was that many owners were buying the plugins to get the subsidy and tax benefits, but then not actually plugging them in at all, simply using them as a conventional hybrid, in which role they are generally much less economical than a normal car.

April’s sales fall was “evidence of the consequences of prematurely removing upfront purchase incentives before the market is ready”, said Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, speaking to the Financial Times.

Pure electric cars were still only “a tiny fraction of the market and are just one of a number of technologies that will help us on the road to zero emissions”, he said, adding that the industry needed “policies that help get the latest, cleanest vehicles on the road more quickly and support market transition for all drivers”.

Mitsubishi’s study, carried out for the firm by Kadence International, showed that average weekly mileage for owners of its Outlander Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) was 179.2 miles, and an average of 90.6 miles are driven in electric vehicle (EV) mode each week, where the car is being driven only by its batteries and electric motors.

The survey also showed that 97 per cent of Outlander PHEV owners normally charge their vehicles at home with 23 per cent using public charging points.

Again, this refutes the misconception that PHEVs are preventing electric vehicles from accessing charging units. Only ten per cent of Outlander PHEV owners agree that they always plug in and recharge at motorway services, on longer journeys, suggesting that most use their combined EV/petrol power units for longer journeys instead.

According to a spokesperson for Mitsubishi, incentivising plugins could help, eventually, to boost sales of pure electric vehicles, and that the technology is a vital ‘bridge’ to future electric technology.

“Plug-in hybrid vehicles not only have an immediate environmental impact, they help familiarise consumers with electric vehicles, providing the perfect segue to a pure electric future. The survey also reveals that 25 per cent of Outlander PHEV owners would consider a pure electric vehicle for their potential next or future purchase.

“Plug-in hybrid vehicles present an opportunity to introduce people to electric motoring, while also addressing the short-term pollution issues, but the government has turned its back on the technology because of misconceptions about what motivates people to buy them. Mitsubishi Motors in the UK is calling on the government to be more inclusive of gateway technologies and to incentivise private buyers to make the first step away from pure petrol or diesel power by lowering running costs and rolling out more on-street and residential charging for people without driveways.”

In Ireland, plugin-hybrids do still qualify for a grant from the Sustainable Energy Authority (SEAI) which reduces their list price by €2,500, but that’s half the subsidy given to pure electric vehicles. Sales of plugin-hybrids have risen this year so far, but they’re lagging far behind their non-plugin hybrid and pure-electric rivals.

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