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Consumption of plug-in hybrids: when TF1 tells the news at 8pm!

Plug-in hybrid vehicles are on the rise. Faced with this considerable boom, technology is making headlines, including the TF1 newscast last night. Except that the data used to compile this report has been just as misunderstood as the use of a vehicle of this type.

Plug-in hybrid cars have always evolved in the shadow of electric cars. On the other hand, technology that brings together the best of both worlds is starting to gain ground, especially since the implementation of a dedicated ecological bonus of € 2,000 according to a very specific grid of criteria.

The plug-in hybrid phenomenon

Since the introduction of this measure, technology has panicked all indicators. Last October, registrations of plug-in hybrid vehicles surpassed those of electric cars (by a short head, however) for the first time, with 10,214 units. In the third quarter of 2020, the motorization jumped 407.10%, from 3,962 vehicles in 2019 to 20,090 units. A reason for TF1 to say that the plug-in hybrid car has jumped 400% in one year? It is still too early to claim it: over the first three quarters, the increase capped at 239.50% in France and should therefore be similar at the end of the 12 months of this year. This represents an increase almost three times higher than last year as indicated at the end of the report.

The fact remains that this development remains particularly remarkable and puts plug-in hybrid cars in the spotlight. The manufacturers are chaining the novelties and technology is making the headlines, including the famous 8pm newscast on TF1 which attracts nearly 6.60 million viewers in front of Anne-Claire Coudray. So many people who were particularly ill-informed – it is regrettable to note – by the report dedicated to plug-in hybrid cars.

The accused: the car. The victim: the client

The latter opens at the same time as the hood of Sergio’s Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, which he is about to put on sale. The reason: real all-electric autonomy “Which would not exceed 40 km” does not necessarily correspond to the 60 km announced by the Japanese manufacturer. As a result, the dead weight of empty batteries would therefore lead to overconsumption. Thus, the narrative slowly slips into the heart of the report: the recent survey published by the Faunhofer Institute and the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), which points to the actual consumption and pollutant emissions of plug-in hybrid cars.

According to this study, which analyzed 104,709 plug-in hybrids around the world, the technology would allow operation at an electrical / thermal ratio of around 37% / 63%. It is this data that TF1 journalists put forward to explain that a plug-in hybrid car would consume in this way “Four times more than a classic car” ! But beyond the particularly vague definition of a classic car, it is the interpretation of the data that amazes in this bulletin, which is circulated during prime time. Because no, a plug-in hybrid car does not consume four times more than its thermal counterpart, but two to four times more than the value indicated according to the WLTP standard, as highlighted in the report from the institute. A fact now known to everyone and regularly demonstrated by our tests, since by integrating electrical autonomy into the calculation, the standard delivers consumption data that is completely disconnected from reality.

In “rechargeable hybrid”, there is “rechargeable”

This is the art of interpreting data and knowing the subject we are looking at because in the space of a few seconds, journalists discredit their words: with his plug-in hybrid vehicle, Sergio would fill up of gasoline every 400 km. Which would translate into an average of 10.75 l / 100 km. So it’s not four times more than a conventional vehicle, but rather five times more than the 2.0 l / 100 km average reported by the manufacturer. And in this quest for the hype, TF1 highlights another aspect of the plug-in hybrid car: its misuse by the majority of drivers.

Read also:
3 good reasons to charge your plug-in hybrid car

Because if the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV claims an average consumption of 7.0 l / 100 km in hybrid mode, consumption can quickly climb to 9.0 l / 100 km … when the battery is empty. This is not surprising when the hybridization is between 250 kg and 300 kg more on average on an SUV. Which could therefore correspond to the use that this driver makes of his Outlander, as he timidly admits at the start of the report. Because this is the whole point of a plug-in hybrid vehicle: as its name suggests, its battery can (and must) be recharged to take full advantage of this technology, thus offering a hybrid vehicle capable of circulating in all electric on a daily basis or depending on the situation. But he calls for a driving strategy that must be inspired by the world of electric cars, so as not to empty the battery unnecessarily without considering recharging, otherwise consumption will soar. So it’s hard to be annoyed by an uncharged plug-in hybrid car, in the same way you don’t blame a freezer for melting ice cubes if it’s not plugged in.

Customers especially attracted by tax advantages

Which is all the more damaging in the case of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, which offers a comfortable range. Because it is the latter that would have led the owner to part with his SUV after a year of use, indicating that the autonomy is not sufficient and would systematically lead to overconsumption. According to him, the Outlander would do no more than 40 km in all electric, against 60 km announced by the manufacturer. Except that the report forgets to indicate the influence on the autonomy that can have the type of roads taken and the driving style of the driver, but especially to specify that the manufacturer indicates an electric autonomy of 45 km on the cycle WLTP and 57 km to town. In the case of this model, the difference between ads and reality is even one of the best on the market.

As Eric points out very effectively at the end of the report, but also the study which serves as a support for this report, most users, including professionals, benefit above all from the tax advantages offered by technology, with among others a bonus of € 2,000. and a gray card offered for individuals and an exemption from TVS for professionals. Or the financial advantages of the electric car in more measured proportions (the bonus is € 7,000 or € 3,000 in this case), without the disadvantages such as the traditional fear of running out of fuel or the recharging exercise.

Read also:
Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid test: expensive fuel economy

90 seconds of investigation

TF1’s presentation is done well enough to present all the inconsistency of the technology in 2:30 to the 8pm news. However, he is clearly on the wrong target, blaming plug-in hybrids from manufacturers as yet another deception in the automotive sector. Maybe the editors saw it as a new hot topic to do on the ruins of dieselgate? However, the answers are there, starting with the misuse of plug-in hybrid technology by the majority of its users, despite the government’s desire to inform about the importance of recharging via an explanatory leaflet.

Also, the report could have tried to explain in some way that it is the calculation methods of the WLTP standard which lead to these theoretical values. Or to highlight an administration simply obsessed with CO2 emissions without taking into account all the parameters. So many leads presented at the conclusion of the ICCT investigation, which are sorely lacking in this report where the investigation seems to be conducted too quickly. But can we really expect precision in an article that uses a Toyota Corolla hybrid to illustrate plug-in hybrid technology?

The article Consumption of plug-in hybrids: when TF1 tells the news at 8pm! first appeared on Clean Auto.

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