Is There Any Point In Hybrid Cars?
By Paul Homewood
By Alister Doyle | September 19 2016
(Reuters) The last gasoline-powered car will have to be sold by about 2035 to put the world on track to limit global warming to the most stringent goal set by world leaders last year, a study said on Thursday.
The report, by a Climate Action Tracker (CAT) backed by three European research groups, said a drastic shift was needed towards clean electric cars and fuel efficiency since transport emits about 14 percent of world greenhouse gas emissions.
Last December, world leaders at a Paris summit set a goal of limiting a rise in temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times while “pursuing efforts” for a much tougher 1.5 C (2.7F) ceiling.
“We calculate that the last gasoline/diesel car will have to be sold by roughly 2035,” the CAT report said, to make the car fleet consistent with staying below 1.5C. It assumes the last fossil-fuel vehicles would be on the roads until 2050.
As the report indicates, this is a much stiffer target than generally thought before. As far as the UK is concerned, cars account for 11% of GHG emissions, plus another 7% for HGV and vans.
The Committee on Climate Change, in their Fifth Carbon Budget, are planning on electric cars and vans accounting for 61% of sales by 2030, but crucially hybrids account for 38%.
Meanwhile, electric car sales still fail to make much headway, with pure electric cars accounting for just 0.4% this year so far. Hybrids fare slightly better with 1.8%.
But just how much difference do hybrids make, and are they cost effective?
Many manufacturers now offer hybrid alternatives, so it is easy to compare like with like. Ford, for instance, have a hybrid version of the Mondeo Titanium. It has similar performance to the 1.5 Duratorq diesel model, so we can make a few comparisons:
|Mpg – combined||78.5||70.6|
|Max speed||119 mph||116 mph|
Of course, real life fuel economy will be worse than the manufacturers figures, but this should apply to both models.
So we find that, not only is the hybrid dearer, it actually has poorer fuel economy. (It should be pointed out that the hybrid is better for urban driving).
There are two other factors to take account of:
1) Ford’s warranty covers the battery for up to 3 years/60000 miles. But, as with all car warranties, this only covers repair or replacement as a result of a manufacturing defect.
Whether they would replace a battery that started to deteriorate before then is anybody’s guess.
What we do know, though, is that Ford’s extended warranty for Years 3 and 4 specifically excludes batteries. This would seem to indicate that they have little confidence that the hybrid battery would last much longer then 3 years.
According to the Hybrid Shop in the US, “despite the sterling reputation of Toyota’s hybrid power storage systems, any given battery can only survive so many charge cycles, and cars reaching into the 100,000 mile range are certainly within the borders of the battery pack danger zone”, and replacement batteries would cost at least $3600.
While this may not affect driver of newish cars, it is likely to mean that second hand prices for hybrid cars will be pretty poor, when it comes to trade them in.
2) The Mondeo hybrid is only available in 4-door, presumably because of the amount of space the battery takes up. This is a definite drawback, particularly as storage space is 30% less than the 5-door (and even less compared with the 2-seat mode).
On the face of it, hybrids now have little going for them. In reality, conventional cars have caught them up in terms of fuel efficiency.
There should be little surprise about this, car manufacturers have been steadily improving this for decades, and without any need for government diktats.
As the Committee on Climate Change show, this has enabled emissions from domestic transport to remain pretty stable, despite the large increase in the number of cars on the road since 1990.
Returning to the initial topic, it is hard to see any significant reduction in emissions arising from large scale deployment of hybrid cars, either in the UK or world wide. It appears to be pure electric cars or bust.