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The end of plug-in hybrids is approaching

High subsidies for plug-in hybrids will soon only be available for vehicles that can drive at least 60 km in pure electric mode. This could mean an end to the hype surrounding these vehicles in Germany.

Buyers of plug-in hybrids (PHEV) in Germany will receive up to 6750 euros from the state. These must have an electric range of at least 40 km. This is to change from 2022. Then the vehicles must travel at least 60 km without using the combustion engine.

About 30 percent of the PHEVs sold in Europe are registered in Germany. The vehicles are thus more popular than in any other country in the EU. However, there is a lot of criticism of the vehicles. Often the vehicles are leased as company cars precisely because of the high subsidies, but then only driven with a combustion engine. Since the vehicles are significantly heavier than conventional diesel or petrol vehicles due to the electric motor, the real consumption of the PHEV is significantly higher and the vehicles are thus significantly more harmful to the environment than combustion vehicles.

In addition to the new rules regarding range for German subsidies, the European Union has introduced much stronger controls on plug-in hybrids and other vehicles since this year. The consumption of each vehicle can now be transmitted to the EU Commission by manufacturers and authorities, but also directly by the car's electronics. In this way, the emissions, but also the kilometres driven and the speed are checked in order to better control the real consumption of the vehicles.

Plug-in hybrids have been heavily criticised, especially because the CO2 emissions in real operation are probably much higher than stated by the manufacturers. This could be prevented with the new EU regulation. The concept would give the EU the additional option of levying a real tax on the consumption or emissions of each car driver individually. This is likely to go too far for many car owners. Especially those who use plug-in hybrids without the electric motor would then be asked to pay more.

Whether the stricter rules can actually make plug-in hybrids and their use more environmentally friendly is questionable. They are clearly not yet the solution to improving air quality in cities. An end to low emission zones and diesel driving bans is therefore far from in sight.