Over the past couple of weeks I've slowly started looking for a new car. While an EV would be welcome I don't think I can get one that's less than two years old with plenty of range within in my budget so a plug-in hybrid makes the most sense for now.
Especially since the ones I'm looking at I could use their pure-electric mode more than half the time for the journeys and distances I cover. Add in the fairly short charging times (approximately 6 hours for a 10kwh battery), I'm confident my time at petrol pumps will go down from being measured in months into quarters.
Last week I watched and commentated on the Gas vs Electric video by Marques Brownlee. As I said then, I feel like they missed this crucial half step on the EV revolution which brings some benefits while suffering the shame of exhaust fumes. While this applies in part to mild hybrids, these are the things that make plug-in hybrids a positive step when it comes to environmental concerns:
- All-electric driving option
- Short charing times
- Reduced CO2 output
- Increased range and efficiency
- No need for range anxiety
- Lower fuel costs
- Additional power
I enjoy all of these in my current car, a mild-hybrid that in theory could deliver up to 1.7miles in range of pure electric power. It never has and never will but it does supplement the petrol engine very well to deliver some good economy and a bit of power when you really need it.
For comparison, our pure-gas car of a similar age gets up to 35mpg. With the hybrid car I can easily hit 45mpg, a 25% increase in economy with a modest batter included. When it comes to longer journeys on faster roads I can exceed 55mpg, which means I get almost 60% more out of the car.
With the option to drive in pure-electric, hybrid or battery-preservation mode, plug-in hybrids sound perfect for every scenario to me.
Fully electric vs PHEVs
Brand new and with a good specification, both a Tesla Model 3 and a BMW 330e are about the same price. Unfortunately, in the UK at least there's no comparable Mercedes-Benz at the moment.
When it comes to used cars, the Tesla holds it value remarkably well and puts them well out of reach for me at the moment. Even a last-gen Mercedes is out of reach for me at the moment which is disappointing from a choice perspective but having sat in a BMW 340i (same interior as the 330e) a few weeks ago a car from Bayerische Motoren Werke is at the very top of my list.
Given the above points, even a larger car works in my favour but given the 2020 facelift to the 5-Series I would have to settle for a car that is a little out of date and full refresh of the range isn't far away.
Not the most important thing, but Apple announced CarKey in 2020 which is an option on cars manufactured since late 2020 which would be nice to have. CarPlay too got an upgrade and now works on both the entertainment screen and the digital cockpit/instrument cluster.
CarPlay is essential to me now, it future proofs navigation and entertainment for years to come. CarKey not so much, but if that's where cars are heading it's something I would like to consider.
The state of pure-EVs
If you own a Tesla, the network seems to be near enough perfect. Watch the video from Marques Brownlee I linked to and the integration between car and infrastructure is superior to every other manufacturer.
Charging time though, is a sticking point for me. The abundance of petrol stations makes both petrol and diesel cars a more comfortable proposition. Charging large batteries of your home plug sounds painfully slow and you'd need to invest in a wall charger to make it any faster. The smaller battery size (and shorter charging times) really make the PHEV model much more appealing to me and I would have thought to most other drivers. Given cars have enjoyed over 100 years burning fossil fuels, things aren't going to change overnight. We're in a transition period and moving in the right direction.
Is range anxiety real?
After the initial cost, range anxiety is the part I'm most worried about when it comes to an EV but after watching a few videos this weekend maybe it is just something I need to get over.
- carwow at the Munich Motor Show, a lot of companies are betting on an EV future
- AutoTrader: Are electric cars fatally flawed? A good conversation on various myths/truths around EVs
- Quinten Wilson drove 769miles in a Tesla to put range anxiety to the test
If you're thinking of going for an EV or a PHEV, then I'd recommend watching all of the videos I've linked to. While I'm still planning to go half way towards an EV lifestyle, I think the future is going to be greener sooner than I may have thought.
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