Hybrids good for air quality, but not always for MPG
So says Emissions Analytics, a provider of real-world emissions measurement, following its tests of over 30 hybrids in the UK and US.
The firm analysed thousands of data points to understand how they really perform in the real world, and compared them to conventional ICE only vehicles.
The data set compares two standard hybrids versus eight diesels. Each model used an engine ranging from 1.5 to 2.2-litres, generating up to 150bhp, employed two-wheel drive, with a hatchback, saloon or estate body style.
The results show that while hybrids can deliver good fuel economy in real world driving, they can be eclipsed by up to 10mpg by some non-hybrid diesels. This is after having taken into account any net changes in battery charge levels, in order to ensure that the hybrids are not penalised over the test cycle.
However, the firm added that for certain driving patterns, however, hybrids still prove the better option. Using Emissions Analytics’ complete dataset of more than 500 vehicles in the UK, it can quantify how average MPG can fluctuate when dealing with congestion and aggressive or fast driving. Its data found that hybrids suffer much less than their ICE equivalents in congested urban driving: on average a 3% penalty compared to 7%. In contrast, by doubling the average rate of acceleration, the MPG falls by more for hybrids – especially diesel hybrids.
Comparing motorway driving to town driving, all types of vehicle show better MPG on faster routes. However, the difference between hybrids and ICE vehicles is dramatic – typically because the downsized engines found in the hybrids are less suited to motorway cruising.
Continuing on the theme of urban benefits for hybrids, Nick Molden, CEO of Emissions Analytics, pointed to not only their lower fuel consumption as well as a significant emissions reduction in urban areas.
‘For diesel cars, we have previously found that low speed, stop-start driving dramatically increases levels of NOx emissions,’ he said.
A recent report by the International Council on Clean Transportation, which analysed data from Emissions Analytics, showed that the latest Euro 6 diesel cars can exceed the NOx targets by an average of seven-fold.
This contrasts with petrol-only vehicles, which generally meet the regulated NOx standards – even in real-world driving. As a result, petrol hybrids have the benefit over ICE diesels in their effect on air quality, enhanced by the fact that a proportion of urban driving will be on battery – with zero emissions.
Given the current debate about diesel car emissions in towns and cities, Emissions Analytics’ research confirms that hybrids, particularly petrol ones, could help to reduce many of the pollutants emitted in these conditions – most importantly NOx.
‘Hybrids may deliver good but not best-in-class fuel economy, but they are typically the cleanest, and if you are a light-footed, congested-town driver, they are ideal,’ concluded Molden.