Government Subsidized Plug-In Hybrids Go Uncharged In UK

NOV 17 2018 BY MARK KANE 40

Have a PHEV and get only 40 MPG? You are doing it wrong.

Miles Consultancy explored the fuel consumption of plug-in hybrids in corporate fleets in the UK and revealed worrying findings that the average is just 40 miles per gallon (MPG), while it should be 130 MPG!

There is a reason for that – company employees don’t charge the cars and use them like regular hybrids, which leads BBC to a conclusion that companies purchased those cars mainly because of the £2,500 Plug-In Car Grant and tax incentives. News like that probably will cause the cut of PHEV Plug-In Car Grant to be perceived as reasonable.

“”There are some examples where employees aren’t even charging these vehicles up,” said Paul Hollick, The Miles Consultancy’s managing director.

“The charge cables are still in the boot, in a cellophane wrapper, while the company and the employee are going in and out of petrol stations, paying for all of this additional fuel.”

We must remember that a similar phenomenon was once noted in the Netherlands, where PHEV sales spiked, fueled by the tax incentives. It quickly turned out that not so many of those cars were ever recharged. After eliminating generous tax incentives, sales collapsed and never came back to its peak.

The UK was the biggest PHEV market in Europe and it’s pretty sad that PHEV fleets note just 40 MPG. More than 70% of the 37,000 PHEVs sold in 2018 in the UK were company cars, which means that huge potential is untapped.

Source: BBC

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40 Comments on "Government Subsidized Plug-In Hybrids Go Uncharged In UK"

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So, maybe the Rebates, Grants, & Tax Credits chould go towards EVSE’s (EV Charging Stations) installed, and for Electricity Used in them?

Make the installation of Charging Station Painless, and move the rest of the Funding towards Reducing Electricity Rates for EV Charging.

Incentivizing more consumption (=pollution) and more mileage would be even more harmful idea than paying for never used plug and some 12 kWh battery.

This is BS. Electric miles will displace gas miles pollution will fall like a stock market value during 1920. It’s only after majority of miles are converted that other sources of pollution can be minimized. When you spend $$$ It only make sense to focus on best value for a buck first, delegating less impactful options for a later.

This is because fleet employees get a gas card but don’t get a charging card and don’t get reimbursed if they plug in at home and use their electricity. You don’t pay them they don’t plugin . Pretty basic.

This is about government employee’s.
Do a survey of actual owners of these cars, and you’ll find they all plugin in: 99.9999%.

Only a fool would buy one of these and then continue to burn gas and ignore the higher qualify of the electric drive.

No it’s not. It explicitly talks about corporate fleets.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

It’s about the structure of UK incentives.
PHEVs that had low emissions ratings on the NEDC not only received a purchase subsidy, but they have a relatively generous tax treatment for company car benefit-in-kind taxes, as generous as for BEVs.
It made it cheaper to buy an Outlander PHEV than a conventional alternative.

The government removed the purchase incentive for PHEVs on November 1st 2018, and from April 2020 onwards, the BIK incentive structure will depend on the EV range (WLTP, not NEDC), greatly favoring mid-long range BEVs over limited-range PHEVs. A mid/long-range BEV with the same #36.7k taxable value as the Outlander PHEV would have a #3.5k purchase subsidy, #880.80/#1761.60/#2202.00 less employee company car tax per year, and #607.75 less per year in employer payroll taxes. As a point of comparison, Kona Electric will be #29.5k/#34k before purchase subsidy, so will work out a lot cheaper. I suspect that from 2020, there’s going to be a lot of company BEVs in the UK.

I don’t know the tax incentive in the UK, but in the Netherlands it consisted of a serious discount on the BIK (benefit-it-kind) rate, which is an anual tax for company car users. Usually company car users get their fuel payed for by their employer as well, this by way of ‘gas credit card’ for which the employer picks up the bill. Unfortunately there was often no such thing as a ‘charge card’ and home charging was often also too complicated to monitor. So the company car users could choose between home charging at their own expense, or drive down to the petrol station at their boss’s expense. I believe the Dutch are well known as being cheap, so you can imagine the popular choice. The Dutch government has reacted by eliminating the BIK-rate discount for PHEV’s. Alternatively, they could have come up with legislation to promote proper use, but they chose not to. On the other hand, I bought a second hand 2012 Opel Ampera (=Euro Chevy Volt gen.1) early this year, which came out of a company car contract. The Ampera has a lifetime fuel economy reading on the dash, which cannot be reset by the owner and… Read more »

“…the company car users could choose between home charging at their own expense, or drive down to the petrol station at their boss’s expense.”

Yes, that’s exactly the problem right there. Any guvmint incentive for purchase of a PHEV should be coupled with a requirement that the driver buy his own fuel. That would give the proper financial incentive to charge up at home or at work.

It’s almost as if they hired an oil company economist to design the incentive structure.

There’s the upside to this story. One day these will be sold on the used car market and plugged in.

These employees just need some education. Anyone would be invigorated at the prospect of saving all that C02 and gasoline if they knew they difference plugging them in would make. My guess is that they would happily plug in if they knew how much of a benefit to the vehicles efficiency would be with their small action of plugging in everyday.

Not necessarily. These are company cars so with disproportionately high mileages. So many drivers will think “I’m doing a 300 mile trip today i cant be bothered to charge just to make 15 of those miles electric”.

Also, as pointed out above, the boss picks up the tab for the gas so why bother spending personal money on charging?

Subsidies never work.

The massive subsidies the U.S. government provides for Big Oil work quite well for Big Oil. Imagine what the at-the-pump cost for gasoline/diesel in the U.S. would be if Big Oil had to pay for mercenaries to protect their shipping lanes, and protect the oil-rich Mideastern sheiks who oppress their own people while hogging nearly all the income from oil for their own families!

Less than you are paying right now. The subsidy money isn’t created out of thin air it is provided by the taxpayer.

The US Political system allows 15 oil and 15 coal companies to contribute 99% of their campaign contributions to Republicans, controlling subsidies to themselves. The US Supreme Court passed Citizens United, that transfers more power to corporations, by allowing bigger bribes into the political system: This is what Repubs have been up to: List of US Fossil Fuel subsidies from recent G20 report: – Expensing of Intangible Drilling Costs – Percentage Depletion for Oil and Natural-Gas Wells – Domestic Manufacturing Deduction for Fossil Fuels – Two Year Amortization Period for Geological & Geophysical Expenditures – Percentage Depletion for Hard Mineral Fossil Fuels – Expensing of Exploration and Development Costs for Hard Mineral Fuels – Capital Gains Treatment for Royalties of Coal – Deduction for Tertiary Injectents – Exception to Passive-Loss Limitation for Working Interests in Oil and Natural-Gas Properties – Enhanced Oil Recovery Credit (EOR) Credit – Marginal Wells Credit – Corporate Tax Income Exemption for Fossil-Fuel Publicly Traded Partnerships – Excise Tax Exemption for Crude Oil Derived from Tar Sands – Royalty-Exempt Beneficial Use of Fuels – Royalty-Free Flaring and Venting of Natural Gas – Liability Cap on Natural Resource Damage – Subsidies for fossil fuels used in the… Read more »

Subsidies are the ONLY thing that work for established companies with a monopoly position, with no need to innovate.

The failure here is the failure of a government to structure an incentive to actually promote the behavior it was trying to promote. The failure isn’t the engineering of PHEVs.

Yes, this is extremely obvious as you have already pointed out. Should be stated clearly in the main article, even headline. “Corporate PHEV Users Prefer Filling Car With Corporate Credit Card Than Paying For Own Electricity”.

It is incredibly stupid to have a policy that rewards using gas and then complain that they don’t charge the car at their own expense.

Why would anyone down vote this post?

It’s stating the obvious, or maybe even a straw-man argument. Nothing in the article suggested it’s an engineering failure…

Note to author: typo in title – “subsized” -> “subsidized”, no?

Otherwise, thanks for bringing the story.

Thank you!

On he plus side. When you buy then used, your battery will be as new.
Makes it all the more attractive to me!

But wouldn’t a battery at zero for years have some damage? Better to require drivers charge the car taxpayers bought them.

I said this before and I’ll say this again. Most plugin hybrids have too little range for people to bother charging. My friend has a plugin hybrid and he was excited to run his car on electricity. Until he learned his car only has 14 miles electric range, once that happened, he never charged it once.

A plugin hybrid has to at minimum cover the average commute, that being 37 miles. But you also want a bit of a margin, so 50 miles should be the bare minimum. And ideally it should be double that at 75-100 miles electric range. Anything below that isn’t worth it to plug in for most people.

Why would it need to by 75 – 100 miles, if very few people drive such distances regularly? That makes no sense. If you spend that much money on a battery, you can just as well save the combustion engine altogether and go for a BEV…

Something in the 40 – 50 miles range should be a good sweet spot I’d guess.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

The main thing is to cover the owner’s commute.
My colleague’s Energi has enough range to cover their commute (although winter increases the chance of the engine running) and local errands, and that provides plenty of incentive to plug in.

When I got my Outlander (aug 2015) I didn’t charge it very often. I hadn’t gotten into the EV mindset. Gradually the idea of charging at home became the norm. Three years ago there were simply not the CP’s around that there are today so I carried on. With a home CP and some PV my whole usage model has changed. It does all my local driving on Battery with ease.
I can’t wait for my EV to arrive in March.

It takes time to get your head around having a battery that can be used to take you on journeys and not have to use any Petrol.
As for the report, I wonder if a lot of these company car drivers also have a ‘fuel card’ which means all their fuel (gas/diesel) is paid for. IF that is the case and if these cards don’t work with CP’s then what is the incentive to charge their cars? there isn’t one. Pure and simple.

I imagine it would be incumbent upon the fleet operators and the businesses to act on vehicles that weren’t being plugged via logging miles and fuel used. Not that hard.

Living in Huntsville AL, I know how much EV vs gas. It is 2-3x cheaper EV around town yet 2-3x more expensive EV vs gas outside of town. So my wallet says a plug-in is already paying for itself.

Bob Wilson

We’ve seen the same thing here in the USA with lots of companies buying the Volt and C-Max Energi, and then never plugging them in. This is mostly because no charging stations are available on company property and the employees are given cards to pay for their gasoline, but would be expected to charge cars on their own dime at home. So the result is a no-brainer. However, I still think the subsidies are a good thing. The reason is, these cars will eventually sold on the used market. For example, back in 2015 I bought an off-lease 2013 Volt that had never been plugged in. It had 30,000 miles on it and the life time MPG was reading 38. I think that is a good indication it was never charged. However, I owned it for a year and probably only filled the tank up once. Then I sold it to my cousin and he’s still driving it today using it almost entirely as an EV. So, my point is, even if the subsidy doesn’t encourage corporations to charge these cars, the people that buy them on the used market will charge them. And the subsidy is more or less… Read more »

This is criminal and universal. We saw the same at NYPD.

Taxpayers need to only buy them full electrics to prevent this.

There are some consequences for PHEVs that are never charged. For example, they may never be allowed to cell balance, which happens typically at top of charge only.

Over months and years this can be a problem!

This is double crazy. Companies pay 3 times power mile driven, and tax incentives are not enough to compensate bigger fuel and maintenance bills.
But this also shows psychological barriers to good utilization of electric capabilities of PHEVs. General populace will behave the same way! If we go from ICE to cueent PHEV of the mill, we get only 20-30% improvement.
Governments have to stop this nonsense and either mandate large battery packs electricity only mode up to top speed or else drop PHEV subsidies altogether.
Gov. is not in the business of keeping losers alive. As soon as tech is shown to not be able to deliver benefits craved be society (healthy air! national security!), gov should stop extra help.

A reminder that UK and US gallons are not the same. UK gallons are 20% bigger.

“After eliminating generous tax incentives, sales collapsed”


“…which leads BBC to a conclusion that companies purchased those cars mainly because of the £2,500 Plug-In Car Grant and tax incentives…”

Only proves that incentives are completely bogus…

I pointed this out a couple of weeks ago, thanks for bringing the story up I missed it on the BBC. I’ve always thought it was a bit strange the Mitsubishi sold so well, as the ice version was pretty mediocre. Hopefully after the company cars have been sold on second hand users will take advantage of running on cheaper electric and charge every night. By the way the guy who gave us a lift at the fully charged show started with a Mitsubishi and loved it in EV mode but hated it when the engine started , so bought a Tesla. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot Mitsubishi.