According to the latest ACEA figures as reported in International Fleetworld, sales of Plug-In Hybrid vehicles more than doubled in Western Europe in 2015, with 185,266 plug-ins registered compared to 91,409 units in 2014.
Significant growth was experienced in the Netherlands, with a near three-fold increase to 43,411 plug-in registrations, Norway who experienced a 70.6% increase on 2014 with 33,721 registrations and the UK where registrations almost doubled (+96.6%) to 28,636 units.
Many may look on this as a positive move toward greener transport and a sign that people are finally sacrificing their gas guzzlers in favour of small city cars that cause little or no harm to the environment.
Unfortunately it is not until you look at the detail, that the actual position becomes clear. We have all been aware for some time that the real CO2 emissions attributed to the Plug-In Hybrids are not achievable in real-life driving situations, and that, for the most part, conventional fuels will be powering the bulk of the miles driven. It is therefore not surprising that two of the countries seeing the largest increases in take-up of these cars, Netherlands and the UK, both offered disproportionately favourable tax breaks to those taking Plug-in Hybrid vehicles. In fact, so skewed was it in the Netherlands, that the Government made a quick U-turn to close the door on Plug-in Hybrids from January 2016.
What we can conclude, is that it is the personal taxation of these cars that has driven demand, not the green credentials. Unfortunately the world is not a better place for another 185,266 Plug-in Hybrids being on the roads in Europe – unless of course those drivers can be persuaded to use their tax savings to plant some rain forests – good luck with that one!