Mitsubishi’s electric vehicle shock

21 May 2019

A mere one per cent of new vehicles are pure electric, and this figure is unlikely to grow significantly without substantial Government action.

This is the claim of Mitsubishi, which sells the most popular hybrid vehicle in the UK but fears that motorists will not move up to all-electrics.

Whilst hybrids are a sort of halfway house between conventional cars and all-electrics such as the Nissan LEAF, it is impossible for many motorists to drive vehicles with the limited range of battery power only.

This is because of a chronic lack of charging points and other infrastructure accessories, and now incentives for hybrids are being removed too.

Mitsubishi, whose Outlander PHEV is the UK’s top selling hybrid, says: ``While few doubt that the future of motoring involves electric vehicles, not enough is being done to build consumer confidence and acceptance in the short term.

``Currently, just one per cent of new car buyers opt for pure electric vehicles, while at the same time transport emissions and air quality continue to worsen.

``Plug-in hybrid vehicles present an opportunity to introduce people to electric motoring, while also addressing the short-term pollution issues.

``However, the government has turned its back on the technology because of misconceptions about what motivates people to buy them.’’

The company says that the Government has withdrawn the Plug-in Car Grant and offers no tax benefits for Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles compared to more polluting vehicles.

However, a survey of hybrid vehicle drivers has shown that fuel economy and running costs are the primary reasons for choosing their vehicle.

The survey, undertaken by Kadence International, a global market research company on behalf of Mitsubishi Motors in the UK, showed that fuel economy was amongst the most important deciding factors for 86% of Outlander PHEV owners, closely followed by running costs for 85% of drivers and environmental friendliness for 81%.

The survey suggests that 90% of hybrid vehicle owners charge their vehicles at least two or three times per week, with 68% charging every day.

A hybrid vehicle is a combination of a conventional petrol or diesel engine plus electric motors, with the next step being all-electric without the reassurance of the combustion engine if the batteries run flat.

Mitsubishi’s point is that only an infinitesimal number of motorists buy an all-electric vehicle without progressing through the hybrids first, so they must be incentivised to do so.

A quarter of Outlander PHEV owners are most likely to consider a pure electric vehicle for their next purchase, according to the survey.

``We are calling on the government to be more inclusive of gateway technologies and to incentivise private buyers to make the first step away from pure petrol or diesel power by lowering running costs and rolling out more on-street and residential charging for people without driveways,’’ says the company.

Meanwhile the upgraded Kia Niro is now on sale with prices starting at £24,590, rising to £31,945.

A number of improvements have been made to the Niro, which is Kia’s best-selling electrified crossover range of ultra-low emission vehicles. Enhanced for 2019 with a new exterior design, a higher quality interior and enhanced connectivity, the Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid models gain Kia’s advanced new telematics system, which brings additional ‘connected’ functionality to the car.