Plug-in hybrids use more gas than estimated, dieselgate whistleblower says

Dan Smith

Plug-in hybrids use far more gasoline in the real world than regulators tell them, according to a new study by the International Clean Transport Council, the research group that uncovered Volkswagen's Dieselgate scandal. According to data analysis. ICCT analyzed data from both Fuelly, an app that helps drivers track fuel efficiency, and the California Department of Automotive Repair (BAR). This data was then compared to the regulator's estimates and found that the PHEV wasn't running on power as often as the EPA had assumed. This could have a significant impact on how plug-in hybrid vehicles are regulated. Because it actually seems to produce more emissions and use more gasoline than previously thought. Data show that PHEVs spend 26-56% less time in all-electric drive mode (this is called the 'utility factor') and therefore consume less. 42-67% more fuel than the EPA label suggests. Furthermore, the unbiased data from BAR appeared worse than the self-reported data from Fuelly.
Researchers believe this is because the self-reported MPG data is biased towards drivers who pay more attention to efficiency, drive in a more efficient manner and don't forget to plug their cars in. However, the BAR data do not include this bias, so in practice the PHEV shortcomings are probably biased towards the upper end of these percentage estimates. ICCT has produced even more dramatic results in previous studies in Europe.In that study, PHEV fuel use and emissions were 3-5 times Higher than the proposed WLTP estimate. Part of this is due to company cars that the company pays for fuel but not electricity, and therefore were never plugged in, but were purchased by the company to get PHEV incentives. But even for non-company vehicles, the gap between WLTP and actual estimates was even greater than in the US. Lead researcher Aaron Eisenstaedt presented a table of the highest and lowest performing PHEVs and, predictably, "extended range" models (such as the i3 and Volt) focused on using the engine as a backup generator. pointed out. Electricity usage tends to be high for a good battery. On the other hand, the original plug-in his PHEVs with batteries left like the Prius, and his PHEVs of less environmentally conscious customers like the Range Rover and Panamera, were barely plugged in. .
Best EDSBAR data (MY19+, automatically collected)electric drive shareFuelly data (MY11+, user reported)electric drive share
1st2019 Chevrolet Volt0.6232014 BMW i3 Rex0.900
2nd2019 Volvo S60 AWD0.5482016 BMW I3 Rex0.875
3rd2022 BMW 530e Sedan0.4992017 BMW i3 Rex0.864
Fourth2021 BMW 330e xDrive0.4862015 BMW I3 Rex0.824
Fiveth2019 Volvo XC60 AWD0.4422016 Cadillac ELR0.807
Worst EDSBAR data (MY19+, automatically collected)electric drive shareFuelly data (MY11+, user reported)electric drive share
Fiveth2020 BMW 530E0.1162014 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid0.115
Fourth2022 Volvo XC90 T8 AWD Recharge0.0802013 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid0.113
3rd2020 Land Rover Range Rover PHEV0.0622014 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid0.082
2nd2022 Hyundai Tucson Plug-in Hybrid0.0542014 Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid0.045
1st2022 Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid0.051***0.000
***Five models showed higher overall fuel consumption than label CS fuel consumption, resulting in estimated/default 0% EDS
Isenstadt says the only model he considers a good model is the BMW i3 REX. Other models far below the expected EPA numbers. The EPA generally expects a PHEV to use electric drive more than 80% of the time (although this fluctuates based on battery size), and exceeding the EPA standard is i3 only. The i3 was famous for its large (about 100 miles) battery and optional small engine (with a correspondingly very small gas tank). As a result, it now treats like an electric car with occasional gas capabilities, in contrast to many of his PHEVs today that operate in mixed mode. I also spoke with Stephanie Searle, the project manager for the study, about the results. She wanted to highlight how big the gap between regulation and actual numbers is, not just a few percentage points. over 50. Searle notes that the BAR figures are the first time ICCT has used unbiased, non-self-reported figures in its analysis, and the fact that they were worse than self-reported figures suggests that the problem is likely Said it meant worse than previous studies indicated. She thinks BAR's numbers are more solid, but even self-reported numbers from her Fuely, which is expected to be populated by efficiency-minded drivers, show a wide disparity. I also mentioned that

policy proposal

The ICCT hopes its research will influence policy on PHEVs by providing regulators with more data on the actual carbon reductions (or relative shortfalls) achieved by PHEV deployments. is. The ICCT has issued five specific recommendations to EPA.
  • Down-adjust PHEV regulatory efficiency to reflect current real-world performance.
  • Request in-use data reports for specific PHEV models to receive higher utilization that reflects in-use data
  • Adopt a minimum electric range requirement similar to the range requirement for California zero-emission vehicle credits in the Advanced Clean Cars II regulation
  • Employs maximum engine power versus weight limits
  • Establish higher utilization rates for PHEV purchases by drivers with proven home chargers or manufacturer assistance with charging access.
It also shows that manufacturers can help install home chargers and proactively report operating costs to users to incentivize regular charging, and that tax administrators can increase tax rates on PHEV models that demonstrate high efficiency rates. It also recommends that PHEV purchases can be encouraged by limiting deductions. The U.S. government recently expanded the EV tax credit under the Inflation Reduction Act, allowing him to take advantage of the full $7,500 deduction even for his PHEV with a small battery (>7kWh), in contrast to ICCT recommendations. .

Will EPA Follow California?

Additionally, the EPA is currently considering new emissions rules for vehicles beginning with the 2027 model year. It will be announced in the spring of this year. Searle hoped these future rules would be heavily influenced by California's recent "Advanced Clean Car II" standard.When that standard was announced, we electric But one of the reasons California created a simpler rule was because they wanted to set a standard that could be applied to other states in the country where EV sales weren't as high as CA's. If the EPA decides to align its rules with those of California, as it did previously under President Obama, it could reduce light transportation emissions nationwide by about 75% compared to current levels. Yes, says Searle (light transport emissions account for 57% of transport emissions). ). The ICCT recently posted a blog stating that achieving President Biden's goal of aligning U.S. policy with the Paris Agreement would require goals that closely match those of California. New California regulations prohibit the sale of new gasoline vehicles after 2035, but allow up to 20% of new vehicles to be PHEVs. These PHEVs should meet minimum range requirements in hopes that cars with larger batteries are more likely to be plugged in. These findings indicate that even California regulations may be overestimating the amount of emission savings from PHEVs, suggesting that the amount of time people spend in electric vehicles rather than using petrol is 10%. I need to think more about how to maximize the percentage.

Are PHEVs Important?

That said, PHEV complaints may not matter much in the long run. Production costs are declining faster for his BEV than for his PHEV, according to the ICCT. Since PHEVs are basically two cars in one for him, falling battery prices could make his BEV a clearer choice for both buyers and manufacturers. PHEVs are now quite popular in Europe, with a similar market share to BEVs (partly due to the aforementioned company car effect), but in the US he lags far behind BEVs and is catching up. It doesn't seem to happen. . However, as long as we remain in the current battery-constrained production scenario, the new data from the ICCT suggest that the relative carbon reduction potential of PHEVs compared to BEVs and that the benefits of PHEVs may be smaller than previously expected. It helps regulators understand that .

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