Which is better in the Electric vs PHEV debate?
All very good questions and in light of the move toward eco car leasing solutions we endeavour to explain each of the different fuel types to our personal and business customers with a view that they receive a solution which meets their needs and requirements. It is very easy to read something in the press or hear something at work about a tax saving and then rush into a car without considering the full picture and whole life costs. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was one of the first PHEV options to go mainstream as this offered 2 perfect solutions – 1) it was an SUV (the UK’s favourite type of car); and 2) it had lower CO2 and increased MPG for the company car driver. However, we also heard that drivers were claiming the car did not offer the MPG claimed and that the vehicle was very inefficient. Much of this was due to the fact that a driver was simply not charging the vehicle; we heard of vehicles going back to finance companies with the charging cable still in its original sealed wrapper!
How does a PHEV work?
Before we go onto to suggest which is better between the two fuel types, it is probably important to under exactly how a PHEV engine works and what a PHEV actually is. A Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle is not a completely electric car – it is a combination of a combustion engine coupled with the benefits of a lithium-ion battery (smaller than the pure EV but bigger than a normal hybrid). While many of the PHEV options are petrol-based, a new range of diesel PHEVs were launched by Mercedes in the form of a C300de and an E300de, so do not presume (as many do) a PHEV cannot satisfy the higher-mileage driver.
How do you charge a PHEV?
With the PHEV, there is an obligation to charge the vehicle. Unlike a hybrid with its smaller self-charging/self-generating battery, the size of the lithium-ion battery dictates that the driver has an obligation to charge it. What we must stress is that propelling/braking the vehicle is insufficient to charge it. You therefore need to consider that the battery will need to be plugged into an external source – a standard 3-pin plug, a home charge point or a workplace/public charge point. But when does it need charging? Effectively the vehicle needs to be charged when it indicates; modern vehicles will show you the battery life remaining so you can adequately plan your charging habits. Should you fail to charge the car properly, you do have the comfort of the combustion engine running the vehicle (unlike the pure EV) and you will rely on the petrol/diesel fuel alone. For eco drivers this can cause some frustration as the car will not provide the stated MPG; this is why you need to calculate your mileage properly and compare this against the engine/battery. As most PHEVs will offer between 30 to 40 miles of pure electric driving, this is only suitable for smaller journeys and commutes. However, the battery and engine can work together to provide more power and more efficiencies so long as you are charging them correctly.
Should I buy a home charge point?
While you can plug the vehicle into a standard plug at home, it is always good to future proof yourself (batteries are getting bigger and more efficient). You may also find this as a gateway car to a pure EV and will therefore need a charging solution. The benefit of a home charge point is that it can offer 7kW charge capable of charging many PHEVs in a couple of hours whereas a plug my take 4-6 hours to do the same thing. When you get a new alternative fuel car do check the cable you are getting to charge the vehicle – there will be a type 2 connection to plug into the car charge port but the other end will either be a standard plug OR a type 2 connection. It many senses, it is practical to have both so you can charge the vehicle regardless of the circumstances. If you charge the vehicle properly you should see a cost saving of at least 50-60% compared to a standard combustion engine. Add to that the reduce BiK exposure on company car tax drivers and you have a great consideration.
So the PHEV is better than a pure EV (or BEV)?
It doesn’t really work that way. For a an electric car you have the benefit of 0% BiK from April 2020 plus the lower running costs; running a pure EV will be about 50-60% cheaper than a PHEV. That being said, not every driver is ready, nor is their journey suitable, for the pure EV technology. In particular, higher mileage drivers with no access to a home charge point or workplace charge point could struggle to benefit from the technology. In these situations, until the fully-electric vehicle can produce 400-500 miles on a full charge or EVs become cheaper, the PHEV may indeed offer an intermediary solution. When considering these vehicles, if you have like-for-like choices, just weigh up the rental/maintenance costs coupled with any company car tax, service/maintenance cost and insurance. This will ensure you make a financially sage, and logically proper, decision for you next new car.
Standard equipment for the XC60 R Design
In terms of the car shown, the VOLVO XC60 ESTATE 2.0 T8  Hybrid R DESIGN Pro 5dr AWD Geartronic (Petrol Plug In Hybrid Auto), this is based on the following configuration:
- Osmium grey metallic paint
- RGAR Slate/Light Open Grid
- Metal mesh inlays
- 21″ 5 triple spoke diamond cut/ matt black alloy wheels
- Intellisafe Pro Pack
- Xenium Pack
- Heated front windscreen (in lieu of HUD)
- 4.5m Charge Cable (Type 2 Connector) (replaces 3pin)
As standard the car includes 21” alloys, navigation, high performance sound, puddle lights, keyless drive, keyless start, cruise control, lumbar support for the driver, front park assist, rear park assist, dark tinted glass for rear windows, heated aqua blades, rain sensing wipers, tinted windscreen, DTSC, hill descent control, hill start assist, sports floor mats, Bluetooth, front collision assist, lane keep assist with driver alert, oncoming lane mitigation, road edge detection, power tailgate, 12” driver instrument display, 9” touch screen, auto dimming interior and exterior mirrors, electrically folding/heated/adjustable door mirrors, DAV radio, power glass tilt and slide panoramic glass sunroof, roof spoiler, adaptive brake lights, headlamp levelling, LED headlights, 2 zone climate control, heated steering wheel, load cover, footwell illumination, ambient door lighting, city safety with steering support, first aid kit, nappa leather remote, run off road protection, 60/40 split folding seats, electric drivers seta with memory, heated front seats, immobiliser and anti-theft alarm. In terms of additional options for the XC60 consider – rear parking camera, heated rear seats and the Type 2 connection charging cable.
Technical data on the XC60 PHEV
On the technical-side company car and business users can note the P11d at £60,275.00 and CO2 at 52g/km. The 1969CC 8 speed auto petrol engine is coupled with a 11kWh battery. This produces a maximum pure EV range of about 30 miles, combined MPG of 117, 390ps and 0-62 times of 5.5 seconds. Service intervals are set at every 12 months or 18,000 miles whichever lands sooner.
So would the Volvo XC60 be your preferred select leasing option? Or would the Outlander PHEV, Audi Q5 50 TFSI e or the new X3 30e be for you or your business?