Published on September 10th, 2021 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle Ownership Impact On Your Pocket

Watching the used values and maintenance of plug-in hybrid vehicles in Malaysia.

The performance of lithium-ion batteries will inevitably degrade during the high frequently charging/discharging load applied in electric vehicles, very much like with hand-phones, hand held tablets and laptops.

For plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), battery ageing not only declines the performance and reliability of the battery itself, but it also affects the whole energy efficiency of the vehicle since the engine has to work harder to move the heavier vehicle (when compared to the non-PHEV version).

Plug-In Hybrid Claimed Savings

Please note, for the less informed, PHEVs are not designed to be used in zero emission mode all the time. For PHEVs to be part of the transition to zero emission mobility they have to deliver the claimed CO2 and fuel savings on the road, i.e. drive predominantly in zero emission mode in all on-road conditions. But the PHEV models on sale today do not make it easy.

BHPetrol_Euro5 Diesel_2021

Plug-In Hybrid Fuel Free Distance

If car manufacturers want PHEVs to be part of the transition to zero emission mobility

they have to improve their real world performance. This means increasing their real world

electric range to at least 90-120km, ensuring that they can stay in electric mode under a wide range of driving conditions without using the combustion engine, significantly reducing the CO2 emissions when the engine is running.

Plug-In Hybrid Incentives

The Malaysian government should consider ending all purchase subsidies for private or company car PHEVs and provide more subsidies ONLY for zero emission vehicles. This means only electric vehicles like the Porsche Taycan and Nissan Leaf should be eligible for government purchase subsidies.

It must be noted that a PHEV is likely to have worst fuel economy than a conventional petrol powered version of the same model and make when it is driven using the engine rather than the electric motor.

Plug-In Hybrid Added Weight Shared

This is because you are lugging around the additional weight of its electric battery pack. Example will be a BMW 320i petrol and the BMW 330i PHEV. Or even the Volvo XC60 T5 and the Volvo XC60 T8 PHEV.

Plug-In Hybrid Is A Fatty

The Volvo XC60 T5 petrol engine only weights in at 1,779kg and the the T8 PHEV version weighs in at a hefty 2,086kg. This is a 307kg added weight which is about 4 average sized adults sitting in the lighter T5 version.

For the BMW 320i petrol version, its weight is just 1,470kg and its technologically heavier sibling, the 330e PHEV weighs in at 1,740kg. This is a 270kg weight added to a compact sports sedan.

With most PHEV vehicles like the BMW 330e the PHEV battery pack is located under the rear seats, this means the fuel tank gets moved to sit above the rear axle, which means the 330e has less luggage room in the rear when compared to the 320i.

Plug-In Hybrid Used Buying Worries

Think about it. You have added battery and equipment weight in places that you cannot see and additional expensive and complicated technology that needs more than the average mechanic or auto technician to look at when there is a problem.

For the first owner from the showroom there is a battery warranty for up to eight years for most brands today. However, the warranty on the rest of the complex technology is not up to eight years (read the fine print please).

After the 8 years is up (some early PHEV’s are reaching this age soon) f you do choose to replace a PHEV’s battery pack, it will expensive as they can cost upwards of RM45,000 (before labour) for some models, so you’ll need to consider whether this sort of expenditure makes good economic sense in an older used European vehicle that is valued in the used car market from RM50,000 as is.

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