Plug-in hybrids emit many times the claimed CO2, test suggests

Plug-in hybrids may emit more carbon dioxide (CO2) than their manufacturers claimed, even when fully charged, European environmental group Transport & Environment (T&E) claims.

T&E recently tested current-generation plug-in hybrid versions of the BMW 3 Series, Peugeot 308, and Renault Megane. All three are popular in Europe, although only the 3 Series is sold in the U.S., with 330e badging for the plug-in hybrid model.

In tests conducted by the Graz University of Technology (and commissioned by T&E) that started with each car fully charged, the BMW emitted three times its official rating of CO2 while following a typical commuter route of 34 miles, according to T&E. The Peugeot and Renault emitted 20% and 70% more CO2 than their official ratings, respectively.

2023 Peugeot 308

2023 Peugeot 308

 

The plug-in hybrids also fell short in electric range. In city driving, the BMW and Peugeot only achieved 74% and 53% of their claimed electric ranges, respectively, according to T&E. The Renault matched its claimed range, but at just 31 miles per charge, and with no fast charging available, the group was skeptical of its everyday practicality.

T&E also criticized the effectiveness of the geo-fenced behavior that BMW has been offering on its plug-in hybrids for a few years now. This is advertised as allowing drivers to switch to electric power in, for example, densely settled urban areas. But while driving through such a city center, the 3 Series switched on its engine twice, according to T&E.

This is the second round of allegations from T&E, which has published several studies looking at real-world emissions to contrast automakers’ laboratory-based testing. In 2020, the group said plug-in hybrid pollution could be worse than comparable gasoline or diesel cars when vehicles are switched into their battery-charge modes, which use engine power both for propulsion and charging.

2020 Renault Megane E-Tech plug-in hybrid

2020 Renault Megane E-Tech plug-in hybrid

 

Automakers have pushed plug-in hybrids as a solution to Europe’s stricter emissions standards, but that has consistently raised concerns from environmental groups. Questions regarding German automakers’ push toward plug-in hybrids go back to 2015, if not earlier.

Regulators also seem to be rethinking plug-in hybrids. A 2021 report said European regulators were considering ending the plug-in hybrid era early by adopting even stricter emissions standards that force an accelerated shift to all-electric vehicles.

In the U.S., California revamped rules will require much larger batteries and tighter tailpipe emissions rules for plug-in hybrids, mandating 50 miles of electric range by 2035. The state aims to make plug-in hybrids essentially the only new passenger cars with tailpipes in its jurisdiction by then.

Next Post

Historic Surety Hotel in Des Moines

Looking for a great historic hotel with all the modern luxuries? Historic Surety Hotel Des Moines showcases the local neighborhood and welcomes you to feel the vibe on your next trip to Des Moines, Iowa. I began photographing stunning light fixtures as I entered the historic Surety Hotel Des Moines […]
Historic Surety Hotel in Des Moines