Let me start by reporting something totally unrelated to plugin hybrids (or is it?). Like all the rest of the world, Poland is in the process of vaccinating as many people as possible in the shortest possible time. You would think we’re one team and all government officials, media entities, authorities, celebrities, etc. are helping it to succeed. Then, you read a headline in the state-owned media saying, “A woman died two days after being vaccinated!” After that, you hear many people repeat the news and you watch fears grow. Later on, you actually read the article and in the last paragraph it says the woman died of natural causes unrelated to the vaccine. …
Now, I understand you may be confused as this is supposed to be a writeup on plug-in hybrids, but this story closely resembles that of another article I read within another public media portal — the BBC. Headline: “Plug-in hybrids are a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing.’” In the first couple of paragraphs: pressure groups report CO2 emissions may be as much as two-and-a-half times higher than official specifications suggest. It goes on to show the “real world” figures for plug-in hybrids based on data from company car drivers (everybody knows this is the most fuel-consumption conscious group) and compares them to “what an average petrol or diesel car is ESTIMATED to emit” without providing any source of the data. Was it the same real world of leased company cars? I bet so! Only in the very last paragraph do we find out (if you read that far) it is the drivers who are to blame, as they don’t actually plug the cars in. …
I’m sometimes truly tired of defending my wonderful Peugeot 3008 (Plugin) Hybrid4 against a barrage of silly articles, social media experts, neighbours (though, most of mine are smart EV lovers), and even car manufacturers themselves. Most don’t even differentiate between a simple hybrid and a plugin hybrid, sadly demonstrated in not including the phrase “plugin” in the car model name, hence the brackets above. Yet, they all know, these experts, that modern diesel is way cleaner and drives better. God help me! They all know silly Toyota hybrids are as good and why pay more? They also know electric vehicles are a scam. Strangely enough, what quite often happens is the same experts and media entities report 19% plugin vehicle share in France or 27% plugin share in Germany as … success. It’s easy to get lost.
Clickbait Should Be Penalized
Let’s look at my real world, then. You may remember from my first article, I decided to long-term hire a Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 and from the start planned to report on my experiences. For many reasons, some COVID related, it has been a while since my first report appeared on CleanTechnica, but I can say today, after driving the car for over 8 months, PHEVs are great (if you know how to use them) regardless of some smaller and bigger breakdowns we have witnessed. Anyway, after many ups and downs of co-owning a Tesla Model S, I have grown to be much more forgiving when it comes to new technology as long as it’s good, meaning not evil. 😉
The first couple of months, the car was used in a wonderful summer-autumn scenario. I did 45–55 kilometers on one charge and I drove more than usual, which seems to be a standard case for new car owners. That means I charged every night or every other night most of the time, and I also drove longer distances for weekend getaways to the mountains. I kept the fuel stats for August to mid-October running, and after driving 5000 km, my fuel use was 3.9l/100 km. I found it quite amazing for this large SUV, mostly loaded with four folks, a Labrador dog, and some luggage (I described our weights in this previous article). This is only possible, and I am fully aware of that, because I charge the car as if it was a BEV. It’s charging now. Actually, as I’m writing this article, it’s charging to get ready for my morning drive to work (spring is coming and I’ll switch to my electric scooter soon). I simply can’t imagine not plugging it in when it’s out of kWs. Outrageous. Unthinkable. Simply wrong.
People who don’t charge PHEVs are probably the ones who believed Toyota’s commercials on self-driving hybrids and fell for “free” electricity. That could be a good place to report my “normal hybrid” experiment. So, my Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 has this nice feature of “self-charging” its battery while driving — something that could come in handy when coming to a clean transport zone where you’re only allowed to drive electric. Anyway, I felt tempted to try it out, and I somehow anticipated what the outcome would be.
On a nice Saturday morning in October, we set off for a city about 130 km away from where we live and I intentionally left the car uncharged (first time ever) to drive purely on petrol to the place. I kept my speed within reasonable limits, and when we got there, the fuel use showed 6.6l/100 km. On our way back, however, I switched on the e-charge function (as it’s called) and I could watch my battery (13.2 kW) being charged as we went. After 92 km of driving the same route with the same speeds, the battery was full and the fuel use showed … 11l/100 km. How about that? This is precisely the self-charging promise some car manufacturers use to mislead buyers, and this shows how it is such an awful lie. We burnt petrol like crazy and it ruined my overall statistics. There is no “free charging” … unless you are a solar powered vehicle or you’re rolling down Etna Volcano and you charge on kinetic energy. It’s been said before and I’m happy to reiterate — educate PHEV owners why it pays to charge and how self-charging does NOT work and we will significantly improve plugin statistics globally.
As for my Peugeot, it’s now struggled through the toughest winter we’ve had in 6–7 years with heavy snowfalls and temperatures dropping down to -20°C. Yes, it lost some batter capacity when it got colder. I agree, charging efficiency was lower. And I admit I drove less in the electric mode as it refused to be activated in the freezing temperatures. Unchangingly, though, I still prefer this PHEV model to any diesel- or petrol-only vehicle, as it leaves me with options. Winter report coming soon, health permitting. Stay tuned.