Plug-in hybrid vehicles pollute far more than manufacturers claim, tests show
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Plug-in hybrid vehicles pollute far more than manufacturers claim, tests show

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Plug-in hybrid vehicles pollute far more than car manufacturers claim, the European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E) said on Monday.

While sales of such vehicles are soaring in Europe, T&E believes that governments must put an end to the purchase subsidies and generous tax exemptions for these models, which it believes are fuelling a new emissions scandal.

In real-world tests, three of the most popular models had higher CO2 emissions in 2020 than previously announced, as had other research into older plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).

The BMW X5, Volvo XC60 and Mitsubishi Outlander emitted between 28 and 89% more CO2 than announced, according to T&E, who said that the cars were “tested by Emissions Analytics on a fully charged battery in optimal conditions.”

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With an empty battery, these cars emitted three to eight times more CO2 than the official values. And when driving in battery recharging mode, which could become more common as drivers use it before switching to electric mode in low-emission areas, the figures were three to twelve times higher, T&E point.

According to the European organisation, once the battery is flat, the three plug-in hybrids can only travel 11 to 23 km in thermal mode before exceeding their official CO2 emissions per km levels.

“This is contrary to the misleading carmaker narrative that PHEVs on sale today are suited for long journeys,” T&E said. “In fact, they have to be charged much more frequently than battery electric cars, which do around 300km on a single charge.”

It therefore believes that governments must end the purchase subsidies and generous tax exemptions for these models, which it says are fuelling a new emissions scandal.

“Plug-in hybrids are fake electric cars, built for lab tests and tax breaks, not real driving,” said Julia Poliscanova, senior director for clean vehicles at T&E.

“The only way plug-ins are going to have a future is if we completely overhaul how we reward them in EU car CO2 tests and regulations,” Poliscanova said. “Otherwise PHEVs will soon join diesel in the dustbin of history.”

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times