New study finds plug-in hybrids use more fuel than official tests show

Results from a recent research study has reportedly suggested that plug-in hybrid cars consume more fuel than what official tests show, which implies that pollution from these cars could be worse than the advertised figures.

Reportedly, tests conducted on 22 cars produced by BMW, Mitsubishi, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Volvo found that the vehicles burned 61% more fuel on average than the official test numbers. According to the report, the BMW X5 plug-in hybrid SUV turned out to be the worst performer, which during official tests attained 188.3 miles to the gallon against only 52.8 miles during this recent test. This difference of 72% in efficiency could possibly increase petrol expenses by over £650 a year, suggested the report.

The report also estimated that the extra fuel burned would lead to higher carbon dioxide emissions, along with high running costs for car owners wherein the average extra cost could be £462.

For the uninitiated, plug-in hybrid cars combine internal combustion engine with the externally rechargeable battery for lowering the emissions of CO2 and other pollutants while providing the range and easy refueling benefits of fossil fuels.

Car industry also argues that PHEVs are important means of encouraging consumers to adopt fully electric cars. However, some environmental campaigners claim that these cars can be less eco-friendly than the ones without a battery if they are not recharged regularly.

Greg Archer, UK Director of campaign group Transport & Environment, stated that the official test done to determine fuel economy and emissions were a harsh distortion of reality. Archer further stated that the engine in several PHEVs start when the car accelerates hard, or when the driver turns on the heating or air conditioning.

Various PHEVs have very small battery due to which the car can run only for around 30 miles with zero emissions and cannot be charged quickly. Car owners who want to reduce the running costs or want to select a green car, should opt for a fully electric model, he added.

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