What the PHEV?!?

outlander-gx4hThe PHEV in question is a Mitsubishi Outlander which was purchased in December 2014. The retail price was subject to a £5000 discount from the Government who are actively seeking to encourage sales of electric vehicles. This is not the only incentive, the tax benefits for the Company and for the user are equally generous and are less than 10% of the personal tax that would be due to be paid if a petrol or diesel equivalent vehicle had been selected. Other financial benefits include zero road fund licence as the car is exempt due to its low emissions rating and the car is also exempt from the London Congestion Charge for the same reason. So financially there are a number of benefits for both Companies and for Individuals but how does the car perform in practice?lam-car

As testified by the PHEV name the car is of the Plug-In Petrol Hybrid variety. The car is charged using a lead and  adapter which can be stored within a compartment in the boot. This lead plugs into a standard 13A socket outlet and will fully charge the electric batteries in around 4.5 hours.

Speedier charging can be provided by using the special electric charging points which can be seen at motorway service stations and other locations however the costs for this service is relatively high. The batteries are used to drive twin electric motors which in turn drive the four wheels. The manufacturer advises that a full charge will provide up to 32 miles of travel but this will obviously depend on the route (inclines etc), weather conditions and travelling speed. We have noticed that the battery will also supply lighting and the interior heater so that on dark cold winter evenings the actual mileage available with a full charge can be less than half the quoted figure. It will also be the case that the use of air conditioning during the summer might have a similar impact on performance.

So are the claims realistic? We haven’t yet achieved 32 miles on a single charge but we have commonly exceeded 20 miles in range. For the technically minded the batteries have a capacity of 12kWh which means that they can provide energy of 12kW for one hour or 6kW for two hours etc. This also determines the charging cost which, based on a notional rate of 12 pence per unit would amount to approximately £1.44 for a full charge. If the vehicle did manage 32 miles then this would equate to a cost of 4.5p per mile and based on our frequent experience of 20 miles it equates to a cost of 7.2p per mile. This compares to a cost of 10 pence per mile if the car were working in hybrid operation using the petrol engine according to manufacturer’s figures. Based on this the economic arguments for using electric energy are relatively small (2.8p per mile) but the reduced associated emissions offer another consideration and we’ll be taking a look at this in a future post.

Check out our blog to see how we are getting along with this supposedly highly efficient car.

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