Ford's Escape PHEV only has 59km electric range - but owners are doing half their driving on EV power
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The New Zealand Government rebate of $5750 for new Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles seems to have helped Kiwi buyers finally switch on to the PHEV concept. Sales in July were three times that of the previous best month, a much bigger percentage gain than Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs, or pure-electric), which doubled.
PHEVs have long been criticised for their limited EV range (40-60km is usual) and reliance on fossil fuel for hybrid operation when the battery runs out. The opposing argument is that average daily driving is well within the capabilities of most PHEV batteries, and the petrol/diesel backup allows for occasional no-compromise long-distance motoring (as well as bring significantly cheaper than BEVs and more appealing to the EV-averse). According to Waka Kotahi, the average daily driving distance for Kiwis is less than 30km.
New statistics from Ford seem to back up the PHEV-affirmative arguments. The Kuga (known as Escape in New Zealand) is the best-selling PHEV in Europe for the first half of 2021 and the company has collected real-world "anonymised" data (most Fords are live, with SIM cars embedded) that shows 49 per cent of the kilometres travelled by owners of the latest model have been completed on electric power alone.
Ford claims 59km pure-electric range from the PHEV powertrain, which combines a 14.4kWh battery with 2.5-litre Atkinson Cycle petrol engine.
Expressed another way, the data shows that from 633,000 "drive days", more then 420,000 were completed with zero tailpipe emissions. The average daily driving distance for European owners is 51km - still less than the Ford's claimed pure-electric range.
For every 100 drive days there have been 89 "charging events". Thirty five per cent of these charges took place overnight with a plug-in time of 12 hours or more (twice the time actually needed to replenish the battery). This means people genuinely are charging overnight at home.
Ford NZ has just launched the Escape PHEV in entry $60,990 and flagship $66,990 ST-Line X models.