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Hybrid vehicles: lack of awareness is part of the problem

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By Erik Fairbairn chief executive of Pod Point

Few people would choose to set fire to a stack of £20 notes every year, much less hang around to inhale the fumes.

Yet this is, more or less, what many plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) drivers are doing, according to reports that say some PHEVs may never have been charged.

TMC (The Miles Consultancy) claims tens of thousands of PHEVs were bought purely to benefit from the plug-in car grant (PICG) and are rarely charged (fleetnews.co.uk, November 13).

Given the environmental and financial benefits of plugging in, to omit to do so and to choose to run your vehicle purely on fossil fuels seems a form of madness.

A few quick sums tell us that it is around 10p less per mile to drive electric, when comparing a PHEV with a similar ICE model.

Average UK daily mileage is around 25 miles, well within the electric range of many PHEVs. So, using these figures, an average driver could be saving £900 a year just by charging their PHEV.

Part of the problem must be a lack of an awareness and, as an industry, we must work out how best to tackle these driver blind spots.

We need to make charging so attractive that even the most cynical PHEV driver can’t resist the opportunity to plug in.

This could be done by spelling out and promoting the various benefits, including the fuel cost savings, and finding a way to make them personal to these drivers.

Secondly, we need more companies to invest in workplace charging. US research suggests an employee with access to charging at work is six times more likely to drive electric.  

Obviously, in urban areas where many homes don’t have access to off-street parking, workplace charging is essential for PHEV drivers to be able to plug-in effortlessly.

Finally, businesses could consider subsidising or setting up a salary sacrifice scheme to help employees pay for a homecharger.

Any costs of setting up such a scheme can be offset against the savings on fuel costs, which, as indicated, are significant.

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