PHEV Update # 7. Long distance and petrol only

Since my last update a month ago I've done some serious driving, adding 2500km to the odometer.

The driving mix was ideal for a long distance test, around 180-200km per day, split 50/50 highway driving at 100kph and city driving 40-70kph. This included city bumper-to-bumper crawl traffic (especially around Macquarie Park) which is ideal for an EV but terrible for a fossil car. Long distance with a genuine mix of traffic and driving speeds would really show out the capabilities and fuel efficiency of the vehicle.

This allowed me to conduct two further tests;

  1. Extended distance driving with battery + petrol

  2. A full fuel cycle of petrol only

Stage 1. Long distance highway and city driving

I covered nearly 1700km of mixed city and highway driving, charging the battery once per day and driving 180-250km per charge, so I was heavily reliant on the hybrid petrol mode to achieve that range, in excess of the rated 50km range the battery provides.

I used the long distance range strategy I mentioned in my last post, using hybrid petrol mode for speeds above 70kph on highways, and battery for speeds below 60kph on local roads. Distance between refueling was 800-900km per 30-35L. Across these two fuel cycles I averaged 3.7L/100km.

Stage 2. Petrol only fuel cycle

Under the same driving conditions I decided to trial something I had not yet done in the vehicle, run it for an entire fuel cycle without plugging it in. In this mode the car is running as a generation 1 hybrid (e.g. Prius) using fuel and charging the battery when going down hill and decelerating.

The car works fine in this mode, although the battery never really gets more than a minimal charge compared to the total capacity. Overall the car used petrol 48% of the time and electric power 52% of the time, which I found surprising. I was expecting a much lower EV number, maybe 20-30%. Fuel efficiency in this mode was 6.2L/100km using 35L of fuel for 562km. This was driving long range, mixed highway and city roads, including slow moving gridlock traffic (especially through Macquarie Park).

I find this interesting, because I did wonder if some people might by the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and run it purely as a petrol hybrid. I scoffed because it missed the point of the car being able to run as a pure EV, but I've reconsidered that position. Even if you never plugged this car in, it's a great hybrid option for people who want something bigger than a Prius.

I've calculated the cost difference between the Outlander PHEV and my older fossil car (a Volvo V70) over the last month to be $200 in petrol costs to cover the same distance.