Renault senior officials speaking at this week’s Munich mobility show have said the French brand will make a request to the European Commission to delay a ban on sales of new hybrid cars to 2040.
With governments around Europe – including the UK – setting out their intentions to prohibit sales of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030 to accelerate a shift to lesser polluting electric vehicles, a date of 2035 has also been earmarked for new hybrids to be outlawed.
Renault, which also owns budget-friendly brand Dacia, says a 2040 ban would be a more practical target for manufacturers producing models towards the more affordable end of the market.
However, the calls for hybrids to be spared for a further five years is against the wishes of campaign groups, with Transport & Environment claiming Renault has failed to ‘adequately invest in the electric revolution’ and is ‘unprepared for the future’.
Renault wants hybrid ban delayed: Bosses at the French maker said this week that they will press law makers to push the outlawing of new hybrid car sales back to 2040
Speaking at the motor show in Germany, Renault Group’s director of Research and Development, Gilles Le Borgne, said the car maker is ‘not resistant’ to the switch to electric vehicles but outlined three reasons for why it wants the ban on hybrid models extended.
‘Firstly, we want absolute confidence that the infrastructure matches the rate at which BEVs are mandated. That’s far from certain, and to go faster makes no sense,’ he said, according to Autocar.
‘Then, while we have absolute confidence that we have the technology – hybrid, plug-in hybrid and BEVs [battery electric vehicles] are all on sale today – we don’t know if we have the customers who want it or, more significantly, can afford it.
‘Finally, and critically, we need time to adapt. Switching our factories over to these new technologies isn’t simple and adapting our workforce to it will take time. You can’t switch just like that, and such a timeline would be hard for us – and harder still when you work the supply chain into the mix.’
Renault, which unveiled its all-new Megane E-Tech Electric family car at the show this week, has already confirmed that 90 per cent of cars it sells across Europe by 2030 will be pure electric.
It will also relaunch the iconic Renault 5 name in 2024 with an all-electric supermini costing around £17,500 as a replacement for the current Zoe EV.
Renault’s sportscar sub-brand, Alpine, will sell only battery-powered models by the end of the decade.
Renault, which unveiled the fully-electric Megane E-Tech Electric (pictured) at the Munich mobility show this week, said a 2035 ban on hybrids would be unfair on motorists who can only afford less-expensive vehicles
Renault says 90% of all models it sells in Europe by 2030 will be pure electric, with a reborn Renault 5 electric supermini (pictured) arriving in 2024
However, Le Borgne said he envisaged that just 10 per cent of Dacias sold across the continent will be fully electric in 2030.
He added that by restricting new vehicle availability to only pure electric models in 2035 will have an ‘undesirable impact’ for people needing affordable vehicles.
Commenting on Renault’s calls for a delay to the hybrid ban, Greg Archer, UK director at green group Transport & Environment, said: ‘Renault have failed to adequately invest in the electric revolution with the Zoe the only zero-emission car they currently sell.
‘Now they want to slowdown the shift to clean, zero-emission vehicles that are flying off other dealers forecourts whilst they play catch-up.
‘Investors beware of companies complaining the world is moving too fast – they are clearly unprepared for the future.’
‘Hybrids are fake electric cars that should be banned in 2030,’ says green transport group
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, has previously said that all hybrid cars – either self-charging or plug-in – have a ‘critical role to play in the transition’ to zero-emission motoring.
He said: ‘Government recognises the importance of these vehicles, many of which are made in Britain, as they can help improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions while acting as a stepping-stone for drivers who aren’t ready to make the jump into a fully electric car.’
However, the UK’s commitment only allows hybrids that can be ‘driven a significant distance without emitting carbon’ to remain on sale for another five years after petrol and diesels are outlawed in 2030.
Despite making this commitment almost a year ago, MPs are yet to clarify what a ‘significant distance is’, which could limit availability to only plug-in hybrid models.
Conventional self-charging hybrids generally can cover around one mile using electric power only, while some plug-in variants – like Volvo’s latest ‘Recharge’ models – capable of completing up to 56-mile journeys without using the internal combustion engine.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, says hybrid vehicles have a ‘critical role to play in the transition’ to zero-emission motoring
Transport & Environment has for months been calling for all hybrids to be banned at the same time as passenger cars with internal combustion engines at the end of the decade.
T&E says plug-in hybrids in particular are a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’, with Julia Poliscanova, senior director for clean vehicles, calling them ‘fake electric cars’ that are ‘built for lab tests and tax breaks, not real driving’.
This followed an investigation last year that found they are worse for the environment than consumers are being led to believe, coughing out up to 12 times their claimed carbon dioxide emissions.
Popular PHEVs from BMW, Volvo and Mitsubishi were tested for their pollution levels during different driving scenarios. It found that, even when they have their batteries fully charged and used in the most optimum conditions, they can emit up to 89 per cent more CO2 than claimed figures suggest.
The BMW X5 xDrive45e was found to be the worst performer of the three PHEVs analysed
‘Fake electric cars’: Tests of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, including the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (pictured) has found they emit far more CO2 than official figures suggest
The heavy BMW SUV is claimed to produce just 39g/km of CO2. However, T&E said in some scenarios it would produce up to 12 times that amount
‘Our tests show that even in optimal conditions, with a full battery, the cars pollute more than advertised,’ Poliscanova explained.
‘Unless you drive them softly, carbon emissions can go off the charts. Governments should stop subsidising these cars with billions in taxpayers’ money,’ she said in the group’s latest scathing report.
Industry commentators suggest that some brands have already shelved the development strategies for hybrid cars in order to pump all their financial weight into EVs.
Automotive market analysts say manufacturers’ huge investments into the rapid evolution of pure-electric vehicles has already seen the development of hybrid technology in passenger cars trimmed, if not ditched entirely.
David Leggett from Global Data told This is Money: ‘Manufacturers are concluding that they have to go full tilt at developing EVs in order to have them in place in big numbers by the end of the decade.
‘There’s a competitive driver, too, with companies not wanting to fall behind in the ‘race’ to develop electric cars that really work well for the customer. Tesla has provided something of a wake-up call to the established players.
‘We’re seeing electric cars now that come with much higher range on a single charge and as that improves further, the whole rationale for the hybrid product is undermined somewhat – so why invest big sums in developing new hybrids?’
Automotive market analysts say that some manufacturers have already ditched plans to develop hybrid drivetrains in order to focus their attention and finances on pure EV models
Should you consider a hybrid car today?
If development of hybrid tech is set to stall, should you be considering buying existing models – either conventional of plug-in – that are in dealerships today?
Ginny Buckley, founder of Electrifying.com, said it is becoming harder to recommend conventional hybrids to consumers.
‘We don’t expect their popularity to last late into the 2020s,’ she warns. ‘In some applications, they can indeed boost economy, but the gains are comparatively modest.’
Ginny Buckley, founder of Electrifying.com told us she doesn’t expect conventional hybrid cars to be popular for much longer, saying they will be overlooked by the second half of this decade
As for plug-in hybrids, Ginny says they are a ‘convenient’ first step towards electric motoring, granted they are used in the most efficiently effective way.
‘The problems come if you rarely or never plug it in. A PHEV can quickly become expensive to own and run – you’re dragging an entire second ‘engine’ and battery around with you and never using it.’
One important positive aspect of hybrid car ownership is that they appear to be more reliable than any other type of vehicle.
In a survey of more than 16,000 UK drivers by What Car? this year, hybrids were rated as the most dependable, with an average class reliability score of 96.9 per cent. In comparison, electric cars on average score a rating of 92.9 per cent.
Buckley says a PHEV is definitely worth considering, but drivers should work out if they could move straight to a full electric car as they already offer many more cost advantages, especially if you can run one as a company car.
‘Technology is moving fast and costs are coming down, so it’s difficult to know when to make the jump to electric,’ she explains.
‘I’d suggest just working out if the sums and practicalities work for you now, reading some reviews and advice and taking the plunge. If the car works for you now, it will in a few years’ time too, and then you can upgrade if you want to.’
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