Automakers Respond to Attack on PHEV Claims

The UK association representing automakers has finally responded to studies suggesting plug-in hybrid vehicle emissions and economy claims could be deeply flawed.

TU-Automotive reported back in November 2020 that a European study showed that automakers’ CO2 emissions for their PHEV products could be up to 89% exaggerated. Now a fuel economy assessment by the consumer magazine Which? suggests its testers found that the average claim made by carmakers of 22 models tested was 61% over optimistic compared to its real-world fuel consumption results costing the average UK driver an extra £400 ($556) a year in fuel.

In response, Mike Hawes, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) chief executive, said in a statement: “By law, manufacturers are required to test all vehicles of all technologies to the same, repeatable standard – the WLTP Test, which is independently verified by government authorities and it is these results, and only these results, that manufacturers are required by law to publish within any advertising communications.

“There will, however, always be a difference between lab tests and real-world use. Fuel use will vary greatly depending on the type of journey made, the conditions, driving style, load and other factors which is why the WLTP test is a standardized test designed to overcome these variables and provide consumers with accurate and comparable results across all vehicles.

“The WLTP tests consistently demonstrate that plug-in hybrids offer comparable range to pure petrol or diesel equivalents but deliver substantial emission reductions, with zero emission range typically 25-40 miles, which is more than ample given that 94% of UK car journeys are less than 25 miles. PHEV range and performance will continue to improve meaning that, for many drivers, they are the essential stepping-stone to a fully electric vehicle.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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