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Shocking News! Plug-In Hybrids Are No Damn Good If You Don’t Plug Them In!

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Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid [image credit:]

More evidence that a PHEV is often used as a device for getting a hefty government subsidy to buy a fuel-powered car. The report also begs the question: if plug-in hybrids need the engine for heating below about 14C, what can full electric vehicles offer drivers when it’s cool, or freezing – apart from battery drainage?
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Greenpeace and Transport and Environment have conducted a study of how owners of plug-in hybrid cars use them in real world driving and come to a startling conclusion — plug-in hybrids are no damn good at lowering emissions if drivers don’t plug them in.

This revelation is intended to convince UK regulators to include PHEVs in their proposed ban of gasoline and diesel powered cars by 2030, says CleanTechnica.

Whoa. Who’da thunk it, huh? A car with a plug needs to be plugged in! That is shocking news.

In testing, manufacturers claim PHEVs average just 44 grams per kilometer of carbon dioxide but in real world driving those cars actually emit an average of 117 grams per kilometer according to data compiled on usage by 20,000 plug-in hybrid drivers who have chosen to record their mileage and fuel consumption for surveys or who drive company or leased vehicles whose fuel efficiency is recorded. By comparison, conventional cars emit about 165 grams of CO2 per kilometer.

According to the data, lifetime emissions of a PHEV average 28 tonnes of CO2, according to a BBC report. By comparison, the average petrol or diesel car is estimated to emit between 39 and 41 tonnes of CO2 from fuel during its lifetime and a conventional hybrid would typically emit 33 tonnes.

Why the discrepancy? Part of it can be explained by the fact that many PHEV owners don’t bother to plug their cars in at the end of the day, especially if the car is part of a fleet.

Some readers may recall the US government bought a bunch of early Chevy Volts and was shocked to learn they didn’t get nearly the mileage expected. Come to find out, many of them never got plugged in. Some drivers were shocked to find out their cars even had a plug! As Wired said at the time, “The whole point of a plug-in hybrid is to plug it in!

A second reason is that PHEV’s need to run the onboard gasoline engine in order to bring the passenger compartment up to a temperature for occupants. In the EU, they are programmed to activate the engine if the ambient air temperature falls below 14º C (that’s 57º F for you people who live in North America.)

Greenpeace is quick to point out that the average daily temperature in much of the UK is at or below 14º C half the year.

Full article here.


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