Over the past month, Synergy employees have had the opportunity to trial one of the new generation electric vehicles, thanks to a loan arrangement negotiated with Melville Mitsubishi.
The Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) was available to staff to test drive across a month-long trial to increase education, awareness and understanding of the benefits and logistics associated with a Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV).
This particular model of PHEV can be driven for up to 50km on electric charge before switching to traditional (unleaded) fuel. The high capacity 12kWh drive battery can produce a combined fuel economy of 1.9L/100km.
The vehicle can be charged via a regular power point reasonably assumed to be found in most Perth metro homes (10 amp).
So what is a Plug-in Hybrid EV?
Standard Hybrid Electric Vehicles have been in the market place for more than ten years and combine an internal combustion engine with an electric motor to provide something called motive power. Essentially, the electricity for the EV motor is provided by an internal combustion engine and can also recover energy via regenerative braking.
These vehicles utilise two different powertrains (types of energy sources) and merges them to form one hybrid powertrain.
The Plug-in or ‘PHEV’ takes this a step further and allows for electricity from the grid to be stored in the drive battery whilst also allowing for the batteries to be charged by the vehicles internal combustion engine to achieve greater driving range.
Essentially, the PHEV is a hybrid EV with the additional feature of a rechargeable battery.
What about full Electric Vehicles?
A ‘pure’ EV is a vehicle that is powered solely through electric powertrain, and as a result these vehicles typically have a larger battery pack than a plug-in hybrid in order to maximise the driving range.
What is the difference between a PHEV and EV to the consumer?
Each of the two vehicles has their pros and cons. An EV can benefit the environment more than a PHEV, as the EV does not directly use traditional fuels, therefore it is a great option for customers whose goal is to minimise their carbon footprint.
However, a PHEV has the advantage of expanded driving range. Since there are two options for power source on a PHEV, the vehicle can rely on battery storage first, and then traditional fuel once the range of the battery power is exhausted. However as battery technology continues to improve, newer generation EVs are constantly increasing their range and eliminating what’s known as range anxiety.
Why is Synergy talking about Electric Vehicles?
According to Synergy’s Energy Solutions manager Allen Gerber, even though electric vehicles are currently more expensive than conventional vehicles, it’s expected the take-up will increase significantly as the market matures and the cost of technology reduces.
“Electric vehicles provide many financial and environmental benefits to their owners, with the added convenience of allowing customers to be in control of their own ‘energy system’, particularly once coupled with solar and battery options,” he said.
With more than 20 per cent of Western Australian’s installing solar PV systems, the opportunity has never been greater to ensure the optimal use of any surplus energy produced,” Allen said.
Tesla’s recent ‘entry level’ model 3 electric vehicle reached 325,000 reservations in the first week of its launch. Bloomberg New Energy Finance has forecast annual electric vehicle new car sales will reach 35 per cent of the market by 2040.