Improvements in plug-in electrified vehicle coming to market soon could make traditional hybrids obsolete in the U.K., warns an automotive analyst.
Battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles have sold more at this point than in all of 2015 in the U.K. at a time when the British government approved another 10 million pounds ($12.2 million) investment in PEV charging infrastructure. Advances in PEVs, especially longer range battery-electric vehicles, should drive that further along, said Rupert Pontin, director-valuations for Glass’s, a U.K. used-vehicle-evaluation service.
“Hybrids are designed to solve two of the problems that EVs have faced in recent years – high cost and low range,” Pontin told WardsAuto. “However, there are very clear signs that these issues are being resolved very quickly.
One of these signs was the Renault Zoe announcement at the Paris auto show that it has a 250-mile (403-km) range and costs 17,000 pounds ($20,751). Other examples include a new BMW i3 battery that can travel about 190 miles (306 km), Volkswagen is claiming that its upcoming IQ will go up to 373 miles (600 km) between charges, at least by New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) standards.
“The fact is that vehicles such as this effectively remove the rationale for hybrids, he said. “Within a few years, hybrids could be seen as little more than a curiosity and this will undoubtedly affect their values.”
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has been the most popular plug-in hybrid, and best-selling PEV, in the U.S, with 7,700 registrations through September. The Nissan Leaf, made in the U.K. at the Sunderland plant, is this year’s best-performing all-electric car in the country with 3,728 registered by the end of September.
Discounts for government purchases helped push the U.K.’s nine month total 36.7 percent ahead of that time period in 2015 for PEV sales.
Hybrids have been popular in the U.K.’s company-car fleet market. The low levels of carbon-dioxide coming from these cars has reduce driver tax bills, Pontin said.
Pontin notes the popularity of hybrids in the U.K. has been driven by the company-car fleet market, where the vehicles’ low levels of carbon-dioxide emissions reduce drivers’ tax bills. However, they haven’t done as well on the used vehicle market as other vehicle segments, taking away some of their appeal.
“As viable EVs start to become available in larger numbers, this will only become more acute and it is difficult to foresee a situation in which (hybrid) demand is likely to increase. Our view is that, unless manufacturers find it difficult to bring the price of EVs down to somewhere near family cars, then hybrids will simply be seen as a passing phase in the history of the car,” Pontin said.