Plug-In hybrid cars travel at two speeds in the European market: Italy is only recently starting to appreciate them, even in a context where the boost in terms of sales is closely linked to state incentives. Other countries, Germany in the lead, have instead shown greater enthusiasm for these engines.
PLUG-IN MARKET: WHO LOVES THEM AND WHO HATES THEM
In 2021 in Italy the PHEV + REx segment (plug-in and hybrid with Range Extender) had 69,000 units sold in the Bel Paese, an increase of 10 times compared to 2019. However, nothing to do with the share of hybrids: between Full Hybrid and Mild Hybrid, the Italians bought 427,000 electrified cars in 2021.
That the Italian people are not yet a devourer of plug-ins is also shown by the comparison between PHEV and electric: always looking at the data of 2021, purely electric cars they did score 67,500 sales, compared to 69,000 plug-ins.
In Germany the situation is slightly different and the car market is more important as a whole (2.62 million in 2021 against 1.47 million in Italy). In this context, the share of Plug-Ins was 12.4%: more than one new car sold last year was Plug-In, in total 325,500 units, slightly less than the 356,000 electric ones.
Looking at the entire European Union, however, in 2021 PHEVs represented 8.9% of all new cars sold, compared to 9.1 for electric cars and 19.6% for hybrids: it is noted that, in general , compared to 2020 the electrified have doubled their market share.
PLUG-IN: WHO RECOMMENDED FOR?
Do I need to be able to reload to use a Plug-In? The first answer we might think of is obvious: yes. Those who recharge at home in the garage or at work have an advantage in using a Plug-In because its daily route (60-100 kilometers) can be tackled without a drop of petrol / diesel or with negligible consumption, between 1 , 5 and 3 liters every 100 kilometers.
According to Mercedes tests [che speriamo di poter verificare/smentire con una nostra prova indipendente]the plug-ins of the star, with low batterythey manage to have consumption similar or better than the thermal equivalent, even with low battery.
The Mercedes test compared the GLE 350d 4MATIC and the GLE 350 de 4MATIC. The hybrid weighs 400kg more than the diesel-only version and the two cars set off on a hilly 17km drive, with the hybrid only having 5% battery. The result was 9.4 l / 100 km for the diesel and 7.2 l / 100 km for the “unloaded” plug-in. During the test, the PHEV reached 1% battery, then regenerated to 5% during the descent phases.
Mercedes then responded to one of the allegations that are often leveled against PHEVs: nobody loads them, so they all travel on petrol / diesel with a “ballast” in the floor. According to the manufacturer’s data, however, the PHEV fleet in circulation is often reloaded: the data speak of 1.3 refills per day… excluding managers with fuel cards and no columns available.
Mercedes then showed the data of an A 250e Plug-in Hybrid supplied to one of the employees who, on 721 km traveled, made 509 in electric mode with an average fuel consumption of 3.3 l / 100 km. Of course it is like asking the host for an opinion on the house wine, but from our previous tests the Class A PHEV is really able to reach such data in a mainly urban and extra-urban use.
THE PLUG-IN CARS WITH GREATER AUTONOMY
Mercedes prides itself on having plug-in hybrid cars with the longest range in the range. He is not completely wrong because, starting from the top, GLE 350 de has a battery that is larger than that of first generation electric: 31.2 kWh for 100 electric kilometers in the WLTP cycle. Are they real? Almost, our test had verified about 80 km on a recharge:
One of the great advantages of Mercedes plug-in hybrids, almost an exclusive, is the recharge. Why the PHEVs of the Germans they all charge at least 7.4 kW in alternating current (some also three-phase at 11 kW) and have direct current recharging. A few examples? GLA Plug-in supports 24 kW in DC, Class C Plug-In reaches 55 kW in DC (and as standard it has three-phase AC at 11 kW) and GLE plug-in supports 60 kW in direct current.
Another exclusive of the brand: Mercedes is one of the very few that has continued to believe in diesel, and therefore offers diesel plug-in hybrids in range (GLC, Class E, GLE) in addition to petrol plug-in hybrids (A-Class, B-Class, CLA and variants, GLA, C-Class and variants, GLC and variants, E-Class and variants, GLE and S-Class)
Compared to the past, the new Mercedes plug-ins have lost a mode (the Recharge) that allowed the battery to be recharged by forcing the heat engine. Today this option has disappeared because the system has improved efficiency and the Germans’ PHEVs continue to recharge the battery on the go, but they do so only when this operation does not impact consumption, therefore during the coasting or regeneration phases when braking / slowdown. However, the modalities remain
- Battery Hold: maintains the battery charge level for later use
- Electric: the car goes with zero local emissions up to a maximum speed of 140/160 km / h depending on the model
The occasion of a further test of three models in the range (GLA 250e, Classe C300e and GLE 350 de) allowed for a new test. At the wheel of one C 300e we start from the Venus dealership in Milan to reach the Galbusera Bianca in the province of Lecco:
it is a 40-kilometer route which, in the absence of traffic, takes 40 minutes. On board the C-Class 300e we used 20 more due to heavy traffic and various trucks / tractors, a situation unfortunately common on many roads in the area. At its destination, the plug-in C-Class had consumed just under half the battery with one average of 23.5 kWh / 100 km and without a drop of gasoline.
Class C 300e is a plug-in hybrid with 2.0 petrol 4-cylinder engine, total power of 313 hp, battery from 25.4 kWh rechargeable in alternating current at 11 kW and in direct current at 55 kW. The declared electric range is 111 km in WLTP.
With these data it was possible to return to the base in electric and confirm a real range of at least 80 kilometers.