The hybrid hype – for whom a semi-electric car is worthwhile

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Kia with a double heart

The Koreans also rely on semi-electric drives.

Hamburg No matter what it costs. According to this motto, automakers now seem to be electrifying their compact models more and more. However, if the so-called 48-volt mild hybrid systems cost within a reasonable range, the technical and financial outlay for the plug-in hybrids is considerable. It goes without saying that this is not available for free. Experts estimate additional costs of between 5,000 and 8,000 euros.

“These are inevitably passed on to the customer,” says Peter Fintl from technology consultancy Altran. The Kia XCeed example shows that the plug-in version is more than 10,000 euros more expensive than the comparable normal petrol engine. It doesn’t look much better with other brands.

The automakers are in a dilemma. On the one hand, they have to meet the EU Commission’s CO2 fleet emissions (95 g / km) by the end of 2020. Otherwise there are high penalties, which can amount to hundreds of millions of euros, sometimes billions, depending on their new registrations in Europe.

On the other hand: A massive reduction in CO2 emissions – at least on paper – is only possible through expensive electrification of the drives. In addition to pure electric cars, the plug-in hybrids, so-called PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle), make a positive contribution to the account. “The manufacturers benefit from a very unrealistic but legally compliant determination of the consumption,” says car expert Peter Fintl.

With this, the compact PHEV then reach values ​​that sometimes go below 2 liters / 100 km. The best in the segment are 1.3 l / 100 km and CO2 emissions of around 30 g / km. This year, the EU Commission in Brussels is giving car manufacturers an additional bonus for electrified vehicles, a so-called super credit.

In the registration statistics, a plug-in model is included twice in the CO2 calculation and can, to stay with the example of 30 g / km, compensate for two conventional cars with CO2 emissions of 160 g / km each. The manufacturer has thus arithmetically sold three vehicles with the prescribed 95 g / km. The latter is one of the main reasons why carmakers are starting to push plug-in hybrids into the market, particularly in the high-volume segment.

However, the purchase of a plug-in hybrid can also be worthwhile for customers, because it receives massive government funding. An environmental bonus of 4,500 euros is paid out when purchasing and company car drivers also have a tax advantage.

Because the well-known 1 percent rule only has to be applied to half the gross list price. Means: If the new car costs 40,000 euros, the company car driver only has to pay tax of 200 euros (instead of 400 euros) per month as additional income. Others, however, see the plug-in hybrid as a sensible solution to get used to electromobility as a driver.

In general, however, it should be borne in mind that the part-time electric cars carry significantly more technology with them than conventional combustion engines, are almost as expensive as pure electric cars in this class and can often consume even more when used with pure gasoline because of their higher weight.

There are these models

Renault even decided to become the only manufacturer in the B segment to offer the small city SUV Captur as a part-time Stromer. The French want to achieve the highest possible proportion of admissions. After all, the Captur is the bestseller in its class in Europe.

New in the compact segment are Jeep with Compass and Renegade and Ford with the Kuga. In addition to the XCeed, Kia also offers the Ceed Kombi as a plug-in hybrid. VW will launch the Golf 8 in two versions this year, the eHybrid and the GTE. Daughters Seat and Audi also have plug-in variants in the pipeline with Leon and A3 Sportback e-tron. They should be with the dealer this year.

The PSA group with Peugeot, Citroen and last but not least Opel relies on plug-in hybrids especially for the compact SUVs. However, Mercedes is most committed to the topic of plug-in hybrid. Almost all models of the A and B-Class are now available as so-called EQ-Power variants and create an electric range – previously a record in the segment – of up to 75 kilometers in theory.

Mercedes is also the only manufacturer to offer the CCS quick charge function for its compact models. This means that the battery can be filled to 80 percent in less than 30 minutes. Otherwise, this takes several hours at a household socket or wallbox.

Because charging in particular can become an annoying affair with plug-in hybrids and firstly requires a high degree of discipline and secondly the emotional readiness to really want to be on the go as often as possible. Ranges between 40 and 60 kilometers, as offered by most plug-in models, in principle require daily contact with the socket.

Depending on the local situation and bad weather, the battery may stay empty, according to the motto: I will drive with gasoline tomorrow and charge when it fits. Critics are annoyed by this behavior because many drivers do not use their plug-in hybrid primarily for the sake of convenience.

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