Forget Diesel - Tough Times Now Lie Ahead for the European Plug-in Crowd

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
forget diesel tough times now lie ahead for the european plug in crowd

The European new car market is in a period of extreme flux. Once-dominant diesels are on the way out thanks to new regulations, looming bans, and cancelled tax incentives, with electrified vehicles poised to take over the high-MPG role.

But not everything’s rosy in the clean, green market on the other side of the Atlantic. A new, more accurate way of measuring fuel economy went into effect last month, and governments — as well as automakers — suddenly realized certain vehicles weren’t as clean as initially thought. Looking to buy a plug-in hybrid in the UK? Say goodbye to that juicy government incentive.

As of November 12th, the UK government will no longer hand over grants of 2,500 pounds ($3,295) to PHEV buyers. Meanwhile, those looking to buy in the former top-tier category (electric vehicles, or PHEVs capable of travelling 70 miles in EV mode) will see their grant slashed from 4,500 pounds to 3,500 ($4,617).

As Autocar reports, industry types are livid.

Created in 2011, a popular year for government green programs the world over, the grant’s disappearance is all about a change in focus. The program “helped the plug-in hybrid market become more established, and will now focus its support on zero-emission models like pure electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars,” the UK government said.

Naturally, there’s a run on popular plug-ins like the top-selling Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, with consumers (and especially fleets) hoping to get their hands on one before they’re forced to pay full price. The same rush to buy was seen in Ontario in August, where Nissan Leaf sales spiked ahead of the cancellation of that province’s massive EV subsidy.

The September 1st switch from Europe’s New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) to the Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) led to several automakers pulling their plug-ins from the market. More accurate fuel economy and emissions testing forced many back to the drawing board.

Speaking to Automotive News Europe, JATO Dynamics analyst Felipe Munoz said plug-in hybrid sales are expected to crater for the rest of the year. At the end of August, European PHEV sales were up 48 percent, year to date.

[Image: Mitsubishi]

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  • Stuki Stuki on Oct 12, 2018

    The whole point of incentives, is to hand them to the privileged and politically connected. Those are the guys in a position to influence their enactment, after all. Once the less privileged have a shot at getting in on the action, "we" have to pay "our" taxes. What else is new?

  • ThomasSchiffer ThomasSchiffer on Oct 12, 2018

    Electric cars in Germany are ‘dirty’ since they are charged with electricity overwhelmingly generated by brown coal power plants. So while they may drive emissions-free, the power that is used to charge their batteries is not. The only political party in Germany pushing for EVs is the Green Party. This is also the political party which wants to ban sports cars, SUVs, trucks and all forms of automotive advertising. And naturally they wish to take away our freedom of speeding on the Autobahns. This is a ‘shoot first ask questions later’ group. They have no real concept for mass mobilization and the future of travel. The other political party’s are being realistic and understand that we still need the Diesel engine to reduce CO2 emissions. Modern diesels are very clean if equipped with SCR and DPF.

  • Norman Stansfield Why are leaf springs still a thing on this truck?
  • Syke The expected opening comments. Have had mine for two years now, the car has done exactly what I want out of it, and a little better. I'm quite happy with the car, haven't had to adjust my driving style or needs in the slightest, and . . . . oh, did a mention that I don't give a damn what today's price at the pump is?Probably going to go for a second one in the coming year, the wife's happy enough with mine that she's ready and willing to trade in the Nissan Kicks. Eventually, the not often used van will end up getting traded on a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, basically ensuring that we don't use gas for anything except the occasional long trip.And the motorcycles.
  • Bobbysirhan I've never found the Allegro appealing before, but a few years of EV rollouts make it seem downright desirable.
  • Scoutdude I know that dealership. Way back when my friend's grandfather was that Turner that owned the Chrysler Plymouth International dealer, in MacPherson. Of course the International was dropped when they didn't deem the Scout reason enough to keep the franchise. I moved from there in late 1978 so it is possible I saw this running around town way back when.
  • Lou_BC "Overpriced" is a misnomer. Arguably, if they are selling they are not overpriced. "Dealer mark-up above MSRP" is a mouthful but more accurate. Simple, don 't buy anything marked up. A computer will help you search the country. It's a PITA but doable.