Environmental campaigners have, once again, made calls for the EU to scrap its subsidies for plug-in hybrid vehicles. This follows reports that hybrid vehicles produce emissions that are as much as 89% higher than carmakers advertise.
In a study, three of the best selling plug-in hybrid cars were tested out in real-world driving conditions. The results indicated that emissions were higher than claims, with the differences being between 28% and 89% in the models involved in the research.
One of the key differences between driving in the real world and lab testing was the use of the battery. For example, when drivers used “charging mode” rather than driving with a full battery, emissions were significantly increased.
In addition to this, factors like using air conditioning whilst driving and using fast acceleration will affect emissions. Lab testing often fails to account for differences in real driving habits.
T&E, which carried out the study, said that on an empty battery, most hybrid cars would surpass their officially advertised emissions per kilometer after just 23km.
How green are hybrid cars?
Green activists claim that hybrid cars should no longer be subsidized in the same way as electric cars. They argue that manufacturers are deliberately building these cars for the tax breaks, and unless they’re driven in a very soft way, they create more pollution than advertised.
T&E says that hybrids are being used as a way to meet CO2 targets when, in reality, most drivers won’t achieve the cut in emissions that the manufacturers say they will.
However, the EU’s trade body ACEA says that the tests carried out don’t represent the typical hybrid driver. The regulator says that the cars are designed to be driven in full-electric mode, and the target market is people making short trips, typically in cities.
Furthermore, they argue that the way individual drivers use the cars isn’t down to the manufacturer. As they are designed for mostly-electric use, they do offer an easier transition for fully electric cars for many people.
The T&E paper calls for the removal of tax breaks for hybrid cars and will be advising this as part of a package to cut EU greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030.
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