The Truth about Plug-In Hybrid Usage: Do Drivers Actually Charge Them?

Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) have been touted as a greener alternative to traditional petrol or diesel cars, offering the flexibility of an internal combustion engine with the environmental benefits of an electric vehicle. However, there’s been a growing debate about whether drivers of these vehicles are actually charging them or simply using them as conventional cars. This question is particularly relevant in the UK, where government grants have incentivized the purchase of PHEVs. So, do drivers actually charge their plug-in hybrids? Let’s delve into the truth about plug-in hybrid usage.

The Reality of Plug-In Hybrid Usage

Research suggests that the reality of plug-in hybrid usage may not be as green as initially thought. A study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research in Germany found that PHEVs in Europe are driven on electric power less than half of the time. The study also revealed that the average CO2 emissions of PHEVs are two to four times higher than official figures suggest.

Why Aren’t Drivers Charging Their PHEVs?

There are several reasons why drivers might not be charging their PHEVs. One of the main reasons is the lack of charging infrastructure. In many areas, particularly rural ones, charging stations are few and far between. This makes it difficult for drivers to rely solely on electric power. Additionally, charging a PHEV can take several hours, which may not be convenient for many drivers.

The Role of Government Incentives

In the UK, the government has offered grants to incentivize the purchase of PHEVs. However, some critics argue that these incentives have led to a situation where drivers buy PHEVs to benefit from the grant, but then use them as conventional cars. This not only negates the environmental benefits of PHEVs but also means that taxpayers’ money is being used to subsidize the purchase of cars that are not as green as they appear.

What Can Be Done to Encourage Charging?

There are several measures that could encourage more drivers to charge their PHEVs. These include increasing the number of charging stations, offering incentives for charging, and providing better information about the benefits of driving on electric power. Additionally, the government could consider revising its grant scheme to ensure that it is promoting genuinely green driving habits.


In conclusion, while PHEVs have the potential to be a greener alternative to conventional cars, this potential is not being fully realized. Many drivers are not charging their PHEVs, often due to a lack of charging infrastructure or because it is not convenient to do so. Government incentives have also played a role in this issue. To truly reap the environmental benefits of PHEVs, it is crucial to encourage more drivers to charge their vehicles and to ensure that government incentives are promoting genuinely green driving habits.