Half price heroes: NZ’s cheapest new plug-in hybrids – and the used alternatives…
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Pure electric vehicles are becoming more common, but they’re still far from mainstream – partly because they’re still far from affordable.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) offer a much more fiscally attractive entry point – as well as conveniently eliminating range anxiety.
They’re still officially Electric Vehicles (EVs) because they still have batteries that can be recharged from an external source, to provide zero-emissions motoring.
But the battery and therefore the EV range is usually quite small (30-60km), and PHEVs retain a combustion engine so they can revert to hybrid operation when the pure-electric power runs out.
We’ve sorted the cheapest new PHEVs on sale in NZ – and identified what plug-in and/or eco-equivalents are available for half the price on the used market. You might be surprised!
Toyota Prius Prime
New price: from $48,990.
It’s a little unloved, but we’d argue the Prius Prime is one of the most impressive PHEVs on the market. The price is sharp, the EV range is excellent (claimed 63km)… and it’s a Toyota.
There’s no shortage of used Prius models around of course, but there is in fact a direct plug-in predecessor to the Prime in the previous-generation Prius.
It’s called the PHV (no “E” just to be different) and it offers pure-electric driving at up to 100km/h, although the range is not as generous as the newer models: 26km from the plug-in battery.
Still, even when it’s depleted you have one of the most reliable and thrifty hybrids around.
Hyundai Ioniq PHEV
New price: from $53,990.
The Ioniq was launched back in 2016, but it’s still a core eco-car for Hyundai. It’s available with a choice of three powertrains: petrol-electric hybrid, PHEV and pure-electric.
The PHEV is in the middle ground on price and not quite as cheap as the Prius Prime, but the look is less outlandish and it’s still a compelling package, with 52km of EV driving range and impressive quality.
The good news is that the Ioniq has been around long enough to be both well-proven and affordable secondhand.
You might struggle to find a used PHEV for half the new price, but that’s mainly because it doesn’t sell as strongly new as the hybrid or pure-electric versions.
If you can live without the plug, the hybrid is a worthy eco-car. Spend a few thousand more and pure-electric is also an option.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
New price: from $52,490.
The Outlander is a globally significant model: the first truly mainstream SUV-PHEV at an affordable price and arguably the vehicle that has introduced more Kiwis to EV technology than any other.
The concept hasn’t changed much through various updates since 2012, although those incremental changes have really benefitted the latest model: EV range has climbed to 55km and the battery can be DC fast-charged (unusual for any PHEV) in 20 minutes.
The most recent update even made the Outlander PHEV a little more sporty, with a bigger battery, bigger 2.4-litre petrol engine and updated drive modes.
But eight years on the market also means there are plenty of used Outlander PHEV models at bargain prices. Your half-price will only get you half of the EV range of the latest model, but the fundamentals are the same.
Mini Countryman S E All4 Countryman
New price: $59,990.
The current generation is very eco-friendly; even the conventional combustion-engine lineup offers a super-thrifty three-cylinder engine option.
Finding a half-price version of either of the above might be a challenge, as the current shape was only launched in 2017 and the previous-generation Countryman didn’t offer anything quite as sustainable.
But consider the BMW 2-series Active Tourer, which is actually based on a Mini platform. It’s been around since 2014, offers the same three-cylinder petrol engine and if you can find the 225xe model, it even has the same plug-in hybrid system and clever AWD arrangement (petrol engine drives the front, electric at the back) as the Countryman.
No, it’s not as fashion-forward as the Mini; but it’s a lot more practical. And it is a BMW.
Ford Escape FWD PHEV
New price: from $58,990.
The all-new Escape is Ford’s big move into PHEV territory – in the biggest new-vehicle segment in NZ, because it’s a medium-sized SUV.
The local launch is imminent, with a range of 2.0-litre EcoBoost petrol and 2.5-litre PHEV models. The plug-ins are at the top of the pricing ladder, although the entry version still sneaks under the $60k mark. The top ST-Line X is $64,990. Both have an EV range of 50km.
There’s no chance of a half-price Escape plug-in – there was an Escape hybrid (non plug-in) in previous generations, but that was mainly for the US market.
So this is really our wild card choice: for a mix of superior performance and economy, how about a $30k diesel-powered Escape? Diesel is not for everybody (click here for our petrol vs diesel analysis) but the Ford unit is a good one and unlike the new PHEV, you can have AWD.