Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle Ownership Impact On Your Pocket

Watching the used values of plug-in hybrid vehicles in Malaysia.

Fact! The performance of lithium-ion batteries will inevitably degrade with frequent charging and discharging which is done with all plug-in hybrid vehicles, very much like with hand-phones, hand-held tablets and lap-tops.

For plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), battery ageing not only declines the performance and reliability of the battery itself, but it also affects the whole energy efficiency of the vehicle since the petrol or diesel engine has to work harder.

Plug-In Hybrid BMW

Current PHEVs are not designed to be used in zero emission mode most of the time. For PHEVs to be part of the transition to zero emission mobility they have to deliver the claimed CO2 and fuel savings on the road, i.e. drive predominantly in zero emission mode in all road conditions. But the PHEV models on sale today do not do this easily.

If car manufacturers want PHEVs to be part of the transition to zero emission mobility they have to improve their real world performance.

This means increasing their real world electric range to at least 100km, ensuring that they can stay in electric mode under a wide range of driving conditions (higher speeds and torque) without using the combustion engine, significantly reducing the CO2 emissions when the engine is running.

The Malaysian government should consider ending all purchase subsidies for PHEVs and maintain the current subsidies ONLY for zero emission vehicles.

This means only electric vehicles like the Volvo XC40 Recharge EV, Porsche Taycan and Nissan Leaf should be eligible for purchase subsidies.

It must be noted that a PHEV is likely to have worst fuel economy than a conventional petrol powered version of the same model and make when it is driven using the engine rather than the electric motor.

This is because you are moving a complete combustion engine around the additional weight of its electric battery pack. Example will be to compare a BMW 320i petrol with the BMW 330i PHEV.

Please also note that plug-in hybrid vehicles have the following added feature:

  • electric motors
  • battery pack
  • gear mechanisms that works to transfer power from the petrol engine to the electric motors and to the wheels
  • substantial additional wiring
  • an enhanced cooling system to keep the battery temperature low
  • a very complex central computer system

Apart from the above, please remember that after the manufacturers warranty ends, the added technology in a PHEV can affect maintenance costs.

To be specific, the maintenance might end up being surprisingly pricey if the hybrid system elements sustain any damage. Although car manufacturers offer comprehensive warranties for the hybrid parts (including the battery).

However, the selling point in Malaysia for the PHEV is the lower price, faster acceleration when the battery is charged and the higher vehicle specification provided by the vehicle manufacturer.

Their honest real-world performance shows little benefit to our environment. The decision makers and marketers at the respective headquarters of the car manufacturers promoting PHEV’s and our Malaysian regulators should move away from the current ‘assumed and promoted’ climate changing technology as soon as possible.

Fact! PHEV’s are designed as a compliance trick for CO2 rules and to benefit from local Government tax incentives.

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