The hybrid alternative

Due to a combination of factors (mainly that I broke down last Friday because I had ignored the last car service and fan belts don’t like not being tightened and tend to pop off while doing 70 kph down Sneydes Road in Point Cook meaning you then get towed by a nice bloke – who is only 26 but wants to spend the rest of his life driving trucks and good luck to him knowing what his calling is at such a young age – to the nearest service centre where they’re waiting on a part so would you like a courtesy car, why yes can I have the rather lovely electric/petrol demo on the forecourt please?) I got to drive a hybrid car this week.

It looks like this.


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Now, I can’t give you the low down on how well our off-grid solar system would be able to charge the lithium-ion 330v, 12kWh battery because we don’t have the correct plug for it in the garage.  But, at the risk of sounding like a bad Jeremy Clarkson, I can tell you it runs like a dream.

Starting the engine is very strange, mostly because it automatically uses the battery and therefore is completely silent.  A couple of times, when stopped at the traffic lights, I got a bit nervous at the lack of engine rumble and wondered if it would actually move off at the green.

It’s not until you put your foot down that you hear a roar…albeit a dull one.  The engine automatically tick-tacks between battery and petrol depending on what you need; when in petrol mode, you can choose the “charge” option so the battery is being charged while you’re driving.

I have to admit the battery did seem to drain fairly quickly, but I did do around 90 kilometres between Point Cook (dropping the kid off at jujitsu) and Little River (dropping the groceries home then picking up kid’s forgotten jujitsu belt) then back to Point Cook (delivering kid’s jujitsu belt to him) then back to Little River (to make dinner).  Plus a spin around the block with the husband who wanted to try it out too.

If you wanted to charge the battery (it uses 87kW at 4500 rpm) it would take 5 hours of connection to an electrical socket and cost (on-grid) around 30c according to the sales guy.

At around $50k it’s not a purchase we can make in the short term, but is food for thought.  Anyone else got one, and do you like it?

4 thoughts on “The hybrid alternative

  1. If it is the outlander, I have had my eye on one for a couple of months. The price tag is a little too high for my liking, however we could charge it from our PV system or GreenPower at night. Certainly beats filling up with fuel all the time.

    I am monitoring to see if the price drops in the next model.


    • Yes, it is the Outlander – beautiful to drive, but yes, exxy. $55k which worked out to around $750 a month on a five year finance deal. However, I have heard of people getting away with only 1.5 litres per 100 kms which is just amazing. I too will wait for the price to drop! (And the kids to leave home!)

  2. May I suggest that the title be changed to ‘The Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle Alternative’. This is important to distinguish from conventional hybrids like Toyota Prius, Lexus hybrids, Honda hybrids, et al. The alternative is the plug-in capability, which affords the opportunity for zero emissions travel. Although practicable and reasonably emissions efficient for certain uses, non plug-in hybrids cannot achieve zero emissions travel.

    It’s a pity that you did not find a way to plug-in at home. That 15 amp plug on the charging cable supports a 10 amp charge capability of the portable charging cable provided by Mitsubishi. Just about everyone I’ve spoken to uses a short extension lead to convert the physical 15 amp plug to an ordinary 10 amp one. Why Mitsubishi did this when so many Holden Volts have used 10 amp plugs with 10 amp charging rates seems difficult to understand.

    However, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV can be charge at 3.3 kW (~15 amp) at charging stations in public infrastructure, and what aftermarket systems you might install at your work and home. It’s still a fairly low charge rate in kilometres per hour of charging, but it will recharge in less than 4 hrs rather than 5 with the standard cable.

    Re-charging is I think an important discussion as it might allow the Outlander to get more than one 30-50 km battery cycle of emission free travel in one day depending on your use profile. There’s no point driving around recharging with the petrol engine if with different choices it is practicable to recharge through the day from a charging station. Moreover, unlike with conventional vehicles where you refill when the tank is near empty, with electric vehicles you tend to change your behaviour to top-up the battery as often as you can. It’s a completely different mindset. I note from that there is no public charging infrastructure (let alone renewable powered) anywhere in your area or almost anywhere on the west side of Melbourne, but things will change more quickly if low cost solutions are pursued rather than complex ones. I tend to go to a supermarket, a hardware store, et al, where a charging station is close by. I hope businesses become more proactive, rather than necessarily waiting for large scale network systems where business value is hard to capture.

    The Outlander PHEV requires about 10 kWh for a full charge. I would be interesting to see how your off-grid solar PV system would meet these needs. However, rather than having something like 4 x daily needs in battery capacity to cover those few occasions of multiple cloudy winter days, the Outlander PHEV (and the Holden Volt) can also function as a reserve generator set by running an inverter off the 12v battery. On the Volt you can, and people do, run almost 2 kW continuous with the petrol engine starting and stopping in fully automated mode for as long as you like. So for an extra 10kW daily demand with the Outlander, your risk mitigation strategy might not be to add another 40 kWh of battery with its associated costs for what are rare events.

    The plug-in hybrid alternative has many great features for an affordable zero emissions lifestyle, perhaps even better than a pure Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV).

    Thank you for these articles and raising the issue of vehicle use. ABS Energy Accounts data 2011-12 reveals that petrol and diesel account for 55% of household energy use. It seems incongruous to create an energy efficient home and go off-grid with solar pv, and then not also consider what vehicles should be in the garage.

    Malcolm Scott
    A very happy Holden Volt owner

    PS. Here is a presentation from an Outlander PHEV owner from Wangaratta, who often tows a 1.5 t trailer. Best to start from the 9:15 point in the video. He plans to soon go off-grid to power his Outlander.

    • Hi Malcolm, thanks for your response to the post, it’s certainly given me plenty to think about! I’m in the process to trying to organise another test of the PHEV to test how well the system would cope with it…will let you know how I get on.

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