Explainer: Hybrid cars are close to overtaking electric ones in sales
Hybrid cars are selling, and they’re selling fast – to be precise, at their fastest rate in the UK. Data from last month shows new hybrid vehicles were selling almost as fast as electric ones – the first encompassing 13.9 per cent of all car purchases, the latter at 14.3 per cent.
The journey to make driving more sustainable is slow: 57 per cent of the cars sold last month were still petrol cars. So one would think any progress, big or small, is welcome.
Yet critics have pointed out that hybrid cars are not the right way forward, because they’re still heavily reliant on fossil fuels. They go in electric mode for short journeys, but consume as a petrol car does during long ones. Electric cars, on the other hand, are not powered by petrol or diesel in any way.
But people are choosing hybrid – and for a reason. These cars’ batteries charge while you’re driving, which means no contact with the complex charging infrastructure that electric cars need. With 74 per cent of EV owners disappointed with public infrastructure, according to research by Which?, many Brits are waiting to make the electric switch, in the hope the government improves the quality and quantity of charging points.
Electric cars are also getting more expensive. City A.M. previously reported how the chief executive of Stellantis warned middle classes can’t afford them anymore. Inflation is pushing general car prices up, and the energy crisis is pushing energy prices even higher. Against this backdrop, hybrid cars can seem a sensible, more affordable alternative.
Hybrid cars might be fine in places where people mainly make short journeys – especially within cities. But their reliance on fossil fuels becomes problematic the second you step out of a city like London, where people drive long distances every day.
The government has a 2030 target: ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, and only having electric and hybrid cars on the streets by then. This won’t be possible as long as electric cars are unaffordable for the majority of people. A lot of those buying hybrid vehicles are wanna-be-electric buyers. We need to free up the space so they can make the most conscious choice available.