Hybrid cars are not as green as you think as they produce much more greenhouse gases than claimed by manufacturers, report reveals
- CCC says plug-in hybrids performed up to five times worse than expected
- Chief executive Chris Stark said progress towards net zero was ‘worryingly slow’
Hybrid cars produce much more greenhouse gases than claimed by manufacturers, a report reveals today.
The Climate Change Committee says plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) – which have a petrol or diesel engine to supplement a battery and electric motors to drive the car’s wheels – have performed up to five times worse than expected.
The findings come in a progress report from the CCC on how well the Government is doing on cutting emissions.
Chief executive Chris Stark said progress to reaching net zero was ‘worryingly slow’, and that the Government is relying on technological breakthroughs such as carbon capture rather than asking people to ‘reduce their high-carbon activities’.
Mr Stark said transport’s share of the country’s overall emissions – the so-called ‘carbon budget’ – is now much higher than had been expected.
Plug-in hybrids not as green as you think: They produce much more greenhouse gases than claimed by manufacturers, a report reveals today
He said: ‘The Government is now expecting surface transport emissions to be higher than it was in the net zero-strategy by the mid 2030s.’
He added that the Government’s latest figures show carbon savings from plug-in hybrid cars ‘are between three to five times lower’ than previously assumed.
Tory MP Philip Dunne, chairman of the environmental audit committee, said the Government ‘risks the unravelling of the last few years of climate leadership’.
It is not the first study of 2023 to bring into question the claimed environmental benefits of plug-in hybrid cars.
A report in February suggested carbon dioxide emissions from the latest PHEVs on sale in the UK are up three times higher than advertised when their batteries have been fully charged.
Think tank Transport & Environment said that while plug-in hybrids are presented as a ‘climate solution’ and a ‘stepping-stone to full electrification’, tests conducted in partnership with Graz University in Austria show that the newest models ‘pollute significantly more than claimed on commuter routes’.
Additional pollution measurements taken from three of the latest PHEVs found that they can emit up to seven times their advertised carbon dioxide outputs on a typical journey through city centres when their batteries are flat.
The environmental group has called for the UK Government to stop providing green tax breaks for PHEVs and ban new models from sale at the end of the decade.
Some hybrid cars are set to be given a five-year stay of execution when the UK Government outlaws the sale of combustion engine cars in less than seven years’ time.
While new conventional petrol and diesel-powered passenger models will be outlawed from 2030, hybrids that can ‘travel a significant distance with zero emissions’ will be allowed to remain in showrooms until 2035.
Industry experts have warned the UK’s 900,000 electric cars could be exacerbating the pothole crisis after new research revealed they cause twice as much damage to roads as their petrol and diesel equivalents.
Analysis by the University of Leeds shows the average electric car – which is heavier due to its larger battery – puts 2.24 times more stress on surfaces than its petrol equivalent, and 1.95 times more than diesel.