Thank you to our business car leasing customer, from Hereford, for sending pictures of their latest fleet addition – the Volvo XC40 PHEV. Like many company car users, our customer wanted to experience some of the facets of electric driving but with the comfort of a combustion engine.
The term “range anxiety” is often banded around by the public and this accounts for some of the reason for customers turning away from a pure electric vehicle and into a PHEV or combustion engine.
There are of course other reasons which account for making an alternative decision for example monthly cost, driving behaviours and vehicle options. However, one of the foremost reasons has been the concern about the EV running out of charge. But is this a well-founded reason not to get an EV?
The growth of EV choices and sales has brought about more production and economies of scale. This has, in turn, created better vehicles and battery technology for the end user. We are seeing many more 250 mile (and above) options becoming available and at more reasonable prices.
The other growth area is in the vehicle charging network. It isn’t just the battery efficiency which has customers of EVs thinking; it is the availability of places to charge when they are away from the home or workplace (presuming this is where they charge their vehicles).
Should I look at charge point locations before leasing a car? Absolutely. We always ensure a customer is familiar with an easy-to-use application called Zap Map which helps educate the customer on where they can charge their new EV.
According to Zap Map, as at March 2021 there are 22,354 charging devices across 14,261 locations! If you are not driving an EV you may not be familiar with the brands available. However, look out for the following EV charge points next time you are at a supermarket or service station:
- Pod Point
- BP Pulse
- Source London
So do I need to regularly charge my PHEV? Unlike the pure electric vehicle, which has a lithium-ion battery set-up, the PHEV is fundamentally a combination of the combustion engine coupled with a small lithium-ion battery.
This allows the driver to operate on petrol /diesel only, electric-only or a combination of the two. Unlike a hybrid (also known as “self-charging”) car, the PHEV does need the driver to connect the vehicle to a normal house socket or to an external car charger.
If the battery is not regularly charged, this will fail to operate. This doesn’t mean that the car won’t work; it will simply run on the combustion engine only.
For company car drivers the obvious benefit is that the vehicle offers lower CO2 emissions and therefore cheaper company car tax than the standard combustion option. Depending on the electric range of a PHEV, the BiK will be between 1% and 13% for the tax year 2021/22.
This will be 10-15% less than a normal combustion engine. This equates to hundreds of pounds worth of savings each month for the driver. While the car could be more expensive as a PHEV, and therefore higher rentals to the company, the tax savings are making many company car drivers re-consider their options.
But is the PHEV a true gateway or education on electrification? This will ultimately depend on the rationale of the driver and their behaviour. If this is purely a tax saving exercise then there will be very few lessons learned; there have been reports of PHEVs being returned with the charging cables still in their original packaging.
Based on this analysis, very little is being contributed to the electric transition. However, if a driver is regularly charging the vehicle and this is operating on its EV-only aspect on regular occasions, there are good lessons being learned.
And we understand that not every driver can have a home or workplace charge point to facilitate their vehicle. While we hope the trend for battery efficiency and charge point locations increases, the PHEV may represent a perfect interim solution for the next 2-3 years.
In terms of the car shown, the Volvo XC40 ESTATE 1.5 T5 Recharge PHEV R DESIGN Pro 5dr Auto (Plug In Hybrid Electric Vehicle), this is based on the following configuration:
- Metallic Paint – Onyx black
- R-Design nappa leather/nubuck – Charcoal
- Cutting edge aluminium inlay
- 21″ 5 triple open spoke diamond cut/ matt black alloy wheels
- Park assist pack – XC40
As standard the car includes leather upholstery, 20” alloys, rear park assist, heated front windscreen, heated front seats, cruise control, heated washer nozzles.
Power driver seat and mirrors, power operated tailgate, keyless start, dark tinted windows, rain sensing wipers, hill descent control, hill start assist.
Bluetooth, stability and traction control, lane keep assist, 12.3” instrument display, 9” centre control, auto folding and heated door mirrors, DAB radio, steering wheel mounted controls.
High gloss black embellishment trim, roof spoiler, adaptive headlights, LED headlights, climate control, illuminated tailgate, high performance sound system, city safety, run off road mitigation/protection, 60/40 split folding seats.
Lumbar support and anti-theft alarm. In terms of additional options consider adding the Premium Sound by Harman Kardon and the panoramic sunroof.
On the technical-side, company car and business users can note the P11d at £43,080.00 and CO2 at 47g/km.
The 10.7 kWh battery and 1477CC petrol engine delivers 262ps, 0-62 times of 7.3 seconds and combined MPG of 117. Expect EV- only ranges of around 25 miles with the XC40 PHEV on a full charge.
The service intervals on the vehicle are every 12months or 18,000 miles, whichever lands sooner