Thursday, September 09, 2010

Real-world road test: life with a plug-in Prius


Adam Vaughan puts the new plug-in Prius through its paces in London and its outskirts and discovers that the vehicle is reasonably practical. But clearly more charging points are needed for this type of vehicle. Even in the mighty metropolis of London there are far too few.

Plugged in via the leads in the boot, the electric battery was topped up for free in an hour and a half. While Westfield’s developers deserve credit for installing the points in the first place, they also warrant a raspberry for allowing any car to take the charging spaces – they’re not reserved for electric vehicles.

And here lies the only real drawback to PHEVs: there are not enough places to charge them, even in the urban areas where they’re best-suited. Home-charging, in particular, is tricky in cities because of the lack of driveways and garages. Of course, because you have petrol as a backup, you don’t have to panic about recharging as you would with a 100% electric vehicle. But by not being able to charge out and about, you lose the unique environmental and financial benefits.

It's promising technology if we find smarter ways of generating the energy supplied to the charging points, but that's another problem for another day.