This web site is to provide news, information, driving impressions and peripheral technological details on all aspects of the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Any pure electric vehicles that have a range of at least 250 miles, or are considered fit for purpose, are also included.
That is the headline mission statement that pretty much covers the requirements of this web site, but it is important to provide a little more information to justify the statement, and also to explain exactly what is meant.
I do believe that electric cars are the future. So where does that leave the plug-in hybrid? Well, that’s a technology of the current period, and how long the current period lasts will depend on technological advancements. For electric cars to become the dominant type of propulsion, several factors will require a complete resolution.
The most important issue is range. Whilst I am happy to embrace cars with a minimum 250 mile range for the moment, that figure needs to improve dramatically before the internal combustion engine (ICE) comes under threat.
Range anxiety, where drivers feel the need to charge their cars well before all the stored energy has been used in order to avoid being stranded, reduces the effective range by up to twenty per cent.
The range is further reduced by driving conditions; high speed motorway driving will eat up electricity, as will driving up steep hills. In town, a lead-footed driver stopping at a series of traffic light will quickly deplete stored energy with every full-blooded Grand Prix start. Then there is the weather. Summer days require air-conditioning, whereas winter requires heating. Darkness requires lighting and rain requires wipers.
Finally, the manufacturers claimed range is likely to be in perfect conditions. If I was to drive the upcoming Tesla Model X over a long journey, I would want to initially planning routes where I would be plugging it in at least every 200 miles. Only with personal experience would I be willing to push recharging stops to anywhere near the claimed 300 mile range.
Diversions and Charging Time
Travelling long distances requires the use of public charging points. I have to say that these are great, at least at motorway services. The driver parks up in a bay very close to the entrance, quickly attached the charging cable and disappears for a cup of tea. Once satiated, assuming the visit has taken at least twenty minutes, the car is 80% charge via the fast-charge units. Off you go, relaxed and ready for the journey ahead. Well, 160 to 200 miles of the journey at least. After all, the car is only 80% charged and your following range anxiety depends on how much charge was remaining at the last stop.
A reasonable argument is that the average driver needs to stop every two hours or so, but an experienced long-distance driver who feels capable of self-monitoring will not enjoy the imposition of forced stops. Especially if the final stop is only fifteen minutes from the destination and time is running short.
Broken and In-Use Stations
Here is where range anxiety rears its ugly head once more. If, when pulling into a service station, there are no available charging units, what then? If all the units are non-functioning, which is possible due to Luddite vandals ‘protesting’ against government funding, then the options are clear: move on to the next service station and hope for the best.
If the charging stations are busy, then, again, you can drive to the next service and hope for a free bay. Or you can wait, and hope the delay is not a long one.
Nowadays, every time I visit a service station, I observe where, and how busy, the charging bays are. I have never seen them all in use. This is not necessarily a situation that remains, especially with the take-up of all types of plug-in electric cars, whether supplemented by an ICE or not.
The implications of the government’s target, that by 2040 every new car in the UK will be a ULEV, implies that all bar the smallest cars will require their own charging bays in service stations. For full details, read here:
Longevity and Cost of Replacement
How long are the batteries going to last? Manufacturers give different signals, but Renault’s insistence on leasing their batteries does not inspire confidence, whilst at the same time massively increasing running costs. But the cost of the batteries have been separated from the car’s repayments, so surely everything balances out? True, until the car has been paid for and the lease goes on. This will effect the residual value of the car, so even a private purchaser who never own their car due to PCP payments, will still have the depreciation figured into their car’s repayments.