17 Jul 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

Hybrid lie?

Hybrid cars are outdated, pointless and hindering the transition to zero-emission fully electric cars and clean transport. If we truly want to build a net-zero world as soon as possible, then they should be banned.
Back in the 1990s, hybrid cars had a purpose. They demonstrated the potential of electric technology and e-vehicles, and how a future free of fossil fuel consumption truly was on the horizon. Cut to 30 years later, with the advancement of full-electric vehicle technology, hybrids have become an obstacle to the electric revolution.
Removing hybrid cars will accelerate the move to a better, completely electric-driven future. Currently, they stand as a roadblock, slowing the changes in infrastructure needed for fully electric cars and distracting consumers with the allure of an alternative type of vehicle that ultimately isn’t worthwhile. Banning hybrid vehicles, alongside combustion engines, should be a priority as part of the electric revolution we are currently on the precipice of.

The hybrid lie of helping the environment
Many people have noble intentions when it comes to wanting to do more to help lessen their impact on their environment, and when it comes to travel, the right personal vehicle is something most can control directly. There is a growing need to drive more efficient machines, and thus the appeal of the hybrid car is evident. The range is not an issue, as its internal combustion engine is available regardless of charge level, and you can drive secure in the fact that your emissions are reduced compared to a gas-guzzling alternative.    
Only these preconceptions are falsehoods. You have been coerced by the hybrid lie. Three of the most popular plug-ins in 2020 all emitted more CO2 than advertised when tested in the real world, according to research by Transport and Environment – and this matches previous research on older models.
The effects are more than negligible, and any benefits are countered by drawbacks. Even with a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), the benefits of charging a battery are countered by its limited size and range – typically less than 50 kilometres – and therefore after it is quickly used up you are straight back to petrol or diesel once more. Sure, 50 clean kilometres is better than nothing, but this quickly adds up to causing more harm than the alternative of a purely electric solution.

Placebo effect of hybrid culture
As a placebo for real impact on the market, hybrids act as an unnecessary distraction on the journey of transitioning to a fully electric future and seeing real, measurably positive impacts on carbon emissions. Are they marginally better for the environment? Arguably. Yet overall, their impact on the consumer and position within the market leaves an overall negative impact.
People want to ‘do their bit’. People want to make a difference – usually, that involves the path that of least personal effort, trusting advice from experts. Settling for hybrids as an equal alternative to going fully electric, however, is misdirection, and only delays the valuable changes they could have made from the start. Preying upon the ethical intentions of consumers is yet another distraction created by these attitudes towards hybrid vehicles.
Another common practice is the idea to try hybrid first before going full electric. This quite often comes down to irrational fear of the range of electric cars, or maybe just fearing change in general. Research conducted by Nissan showed that 97% of EV drivers found the switch “as expected” or “easier”, and 89% believe ditching diesel/petrol was the right decision. Ultimately, this only means that the hybrid option once again reduces or delays the desire to go fully electric – it stands in the way of change.

The limitations of EV infrastructure
With the scarcity of EV infrastructure as it is, a hybrid car using a charge point takes reduces what limited resources EVs have available to them. There are only a limited number of charging points out there – and even fewer rapid points vital to the electrification of roads and motorways.
Building more infrastructure is critical– there is not nearly enough currently to support a complete green transition. But also ensuring that this infrastructure is used by the right type of vehicles should be a priority. If used by cars that will drain their small batteries quickly, and ultimately end up relying on a combustion engine, any positive impact on the environment is immediately lost, as well as directly reducing the operational capacity of electric infrastructure.
Congested charging points also have a greater effect on the consumer mindset. If refuelling an ICE car is always massively quicker and easier compared to queuing for a charging point, most will come to the same conclusion – “it’s not the right time to get an EV.” Ultimately, more electric infrastructure is needed, but also removing hybrid cars from these queues gives a better indication of just how accessible going fully electric can be to the average onlooker.
The promise of the hybrid may once have been true – hybrids are better for the environment, a good transition to electric cars, and a way to reduce emissions. The reality, however, is that they are now behind the times. When better alternatives exist, the hybrid lie just serves to mislead and obfuscate the path to real, meaningful change that the modern era of e-vehicles can bring.