STATISTICS just released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that the 2014 UK sales of electric cars are still at an extremely low level and they are unlikely to improve until new battery technology increases the range of such cars which is usually less than 100 miles writes Bryan Longworth.
So the immediate future of electric propulsion seems to be with hybrid cars with no range anxiety fear factor such as the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) which has a petrol engine and two electric motors with a facility for topping up the battery by plugging in to the mains or via the petrol power unit.
Outlander PHEV which costs from £28,249 qualifies for the Government’s £5,000 plug-in-car grant and with CO2 emissions as low as 44g/km there is no road tax to pay and with just 5% Benefit in Kind in the first 12 months company car drivers will love it.
It will also travel over 32 miles in “free” all electric mode that apparently is more than the average daily commute and Mitsubishi say that the combined cruising range for electrical and petrol modes is around 500 miles or around 148mpg depending on the way it is driven - this will drop for fast motorway driving.
The two electric motors power the front and rear wheels offering four wheel drive and they are powered by electricity from the battery which can be topped up on the move by the 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol engine - the driver can see from a panel in front of the steering wheel which power system is in use.
Or at night for example the battery can be fully topped up through the plug in cable so it can be used solely on electric power for 32 miles next morning - the only problem is finding a convenient power point and I could not use it at my home as it would have involved placing the cable over the pavement and the danger of someone tripping over it.
In addition there are an increasing number of public power points at some car parks although I have yet to see one and if owners of this vehicle have access to one then it is another way of keeping the battery topped up while at work as there is also a special cable in the boot for accessing these power points as well as a cable for domestic power points.
But for owners who only average around 30 miles each day and have easy access to a plug for overnight charging then they are going to have very cheap motoring because in theory they will not be using any petrol - high mileage drivers might be better off with the diesel Outlander which costs the same.
My test car was the the top Outlander PHEV GX4hs auto costing £34,995 which was loaded with standard kit including leather seats, sat nav, electric sunroof, powered tailgate and forward collision mitigation system plus other kit.
The Outlander PHEV is just like driving other models in the Outlander range. It has positive steering and impressive handling with a large comfortable interior and good instrumentation although I found some of the numerous switches and other controls rather confusing.
The Outlander PHEV has the same body as other Outlanders which some owners may not be too happy about as they may feel that with this Mitsubishi being something really different then it should have some feature to let the neighbours know you are driving something rather special as well as the PHEV badging but I suppose this would increase the cost.
But Mitsubishi deserve praise for offering this plug in hybrid facility with all its advantages in this type of 4x4 SUV vehicle and there is no doubt that for certain owners especially those with lower mileages it will have considerable appeal.
My Verdict: PHEV cuts motoring costs.
Model: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GX4hs.
Power: 2.0-litre petrol engine plus two electric motors.
Top speed: 106mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 11 seconds.
Combined cruising range: 500 miles or 148mpg.
CO2 emissions: 44g/km