It’s been a while since the plug-in hybrids have been presented as an interesting transitory alternative before the definitive jump to the electric car. It is an argument that manufacturers have repeated and that governments and European institutions have supported. Up to now. The first movements to reverse these policies can already be seen: a Swiss canton remove the aids to plug-in hybrids because they ensure that they consume as much as diesel.
At the moment, those who want to buy a plug-in hybrid in the Canton of Valais will not be able to benefit from aid that could exceed 3,000 euros for the purchase of a new car and was close to 2,000 euros in the case of the most powerful charging points. . But Switzerland is not the only country changing its approach to plug-in hybrids. Germany or France are also in a curious balance game and the European institutions are clear that plug-in hybrids can only be sold for a limited time.
As electric, until proven otherwise
And it seems that the company Impact Living has proven otherwise. Contracted by the Canton of Valais, this consultancy analyzed the environmental impact of plug-in hybrids and its conclusions ensure that this type of car consumes up to four times more fuel than the data approved in the WLTP cycle.
According to European emissions tests, plug-in hybrids barely consume between one and two liters per 100 kilometers in their best-selling models. The Peugeot 3008 plug-in hybrid, the best-selling PHEV in Europe in 2021, approves 1.3 liters / 100 km in its less equipped version. The Kia XCeed promises 1.4 liters of consumption and the Mercedes Class A, the third best-selling plug-in hybrid in Europe, leaves the mark at 1 l/100 km of consumption.
The problem is that the WLTP homologation tests they trust that they will get the best performance out of each vehicle and that drivers will use it in the most efficient way possible. But just as some drivers do not always drive in the highest possible gear, there are those who exceed the speed limits or rev the car beyond what is recommended when accelerating, there are also those who do not charge the car every day or, simply, At the same price, he prefers to have a plug-in hybrid, save money on your purchase and, in the Spanish case, add the DGT Zero Emissions label, with all its advantages.
In short, there is no way to know in the WLTP homologation cycles whether or not the driver is going to be as efficient as possible. For this reason, the tests in which the battery is fully charged do not have to be a true reflection of the normal use of the vehicles. And this is what they claim to have shown from Impact Living, who put the average consumption of PHEVs in Switzerland between four and seven liters every 100 kilometers.
To get a better idea, the Peugeot 3008, the Kia XCeed and the Mercedes Class A mentioned above, announce emissions of 30, 32 and 22 g/km of CO2. With the Impact Living accounts, only the Mercedes Class A would fall below the target of 95 g/km of CO2 that the European Union has set with more realistic measurements. The figures are far exceeded among the largest plug-in hybrids, like an Audi Q8 e-tron 55 TFSIe that approves 2.8 l/100 km and 63 gr/km of CO2. In this case, it would point to consumption close to 10 l/100 km and emissions greater than 240 g km/ of CO2.
Switzerland is positioned, but they are not the only ones
All this has led to the blunt decision to abolish all aid to plug-in hybrid vehicles in the Canton of Valais. Until now, vehicles moved with this technology they had a purchase subsidy of between 2,398 and 3,357 euros. In addition, putting a charging point at home was cheaper for this type of car, between 671 (11 kW), 1,439 (between 11 and 22 kW) and 1,918 euros (more than 22 kW).
All these aids have been eliminated in this Swiss canton, but other countries are also moving. In Spain, a plug-in hybrid can receive aid of between 2,500 and 7,000 euros discount thanks to the Moves III Plan, depending on the electric autonomy of the vehicle and if another car is scrapped. In addition, the Zero emissions label is automatically delivered if the 40 kilometers of electric autonomy are exceeded, which has raised misgivings in environmental groups.
The defect that you are contrary voices to the labeling of the DGT they indicate it is evident: attention is paid to technology and not to actual CO2 emissions and of particles that are ejected into the atmosphere. In France Y Germany It is the volume of CO2 emissions that marks the final labeling of a vehicle, based on the different European anti-pollution regulations.
But, in addition, although in Germany the new Executive wants plug-in hybrids to count as electric in the forecasts they made for 2030, too The number of kilometers of mandatory electric autonomy has been increased for the corresponding aid to be delivered. As of this year, in order to qualify for these subsidies it is necessary to buy cars with more than 60 kilometers of autonomy electrical. The limit will harden to 80 kilometers in 2024.
And the European Union is going the same way. After many negotiations, last summer it was decided that after 2035 it will not be sold no car that emits polluting substances to the atmosphere. This de facto prohibits diesel and gasoline, but also any type of hybridization, whether or not plug-in.
Not everyone thinks the same
Although plug-in hybridization is in the spotlight, its proponents continue to assert that it is essential as a transitional vehicle before making the leap to fully electrified cars.
Even before 2035, the supply of vehicles with plug-in hybridization could be severely limited. we could see how brands bet on extended autonomy electricity with small gasoline engines, as will the Mazda MX-30 with rotary engine.
The future Euro 7 regulation is being considered with a Prohibition of homologating vehicles with a gasoline engine that exceed 30 gr/km of CO2. They are restrictions so strict that Audi has stopped developing combustion propellants and from the German industry they criticize that the future Euro 7 is hiding the ban on developing vehicles with internal combustion engines from 2025.
Some statements along the same lines have recently been made Carlos Tavares, CEO of Stellantis. In a recent interview with European media, he pointed out that the imposition of the electric vehicle was a wrong political move and that hybrids were a valid and cheaper solution to reduce emissions at the moment. For its part, BMW announced just over a week ago that it will continue to develop its combustion engines, since “in 2025 there will still be many people who will not be able to drive an electric car because they don’t have the necessary infrastructure.
Although the steps that are being taken lead us to a compulsory electrification of the car park, it must also be taken into account that only 0.5% of the cars that move through Europe they are completely electric and that the penetration of this technology barely exceeds 2.0% in four countries on the continent.