Why filling the petrol tank is a rare event for this Outlander plug in hybrid


John Poxon as told to David Waterworth

I installed solar in preparation for purchasing an electric car, then bought my Mitsubishi ZJ Outlander plug in hybrid in 2015, to minimise my combustion of petrol and thereby reduce my carbon footprint.

It has a superior carrying and towing capacity compared to the fully electric vehicles on the market. For example, I can carry a full-sized string trimmer, mower and tools with the back seats down.

I also have a one-tonne braked trailer that it tows very well. Incidentally, when the trailer is only lightly laden I disable the trailer brakes and thereby transfer the trailer’s kinetic energy to the car which improves energy recovery via regenerative braking.

There have been no issues with the handling of the trailer by doing this, but I would emphasise that this is only for a lightly laden trailer.

The car is supposed to consume 1.9 litres of petrol during the first 100km on a standard test run.

When new, my battery would give me a range of 52 km. It is now down to 43km on a battery replaced about three years ago.  The present odometer reading is about 72,000 km. My best estimate of petrol range is about 600km on a long drive.

On short drives, I use very little petrol so I really can’t comment about local petrol consumption, except to say that I rarely buy petrol and usually can’t remember when I bought the last tankful.

On longer drives such as to Sydney, the regenerative braking would recover enough energy to provide about one-third of the trip on electric power. I can charge the car at any accommodation if we stop somewhere overnight.

Because these cars flatten the battery on just about any longer journey (plus 43km), I often have to charge and mostly do that at home. Most of my driving is within this 43km envelope, but only just. Presumably, another battery is likely within the next couple of years.

 

I usually charge within my home’s PV solar envelope as soon as possible after discharging, because I never know when I might need to drive it again, and I detest burning petrol.  Fully charging the battery from flat takes about 5 hours, and it is charged by plugging a charger into a power socket.

As far as I am aware the design of this car doesn’t suit higher charging rates, but I will install a charging station at home to prepare for other electric vehicles in the future, including the replacement for my wife’s current ICE car.

I’m allegedly retired but amongst other things I support my wife’s business at Runcorn.  I can charge there or at my various family members’ homes. Time to charge is the issue.

It takes about one hour to charge 10km, so waiting for a full charge at a relative’s home usually isn’t practical. This and the size of the battery are the only real drawbacks to this car, but I work around them so it isn’t too bad.

I have discussed the car with family and friends but they seem to have just taken it for granted. My children are all technology types, so there’s not much gee-whiz and golly in our conversation.

I have tried to make them aware they will own an electric car within a few years, will have batteries etc.  With one exception, they all have solar. I have had a few inquiries from people I have randomly met, along the lines of what’s that and questions that build from that base.

I drive it several times a week for activities such as shopping locally and at Capalaba, family history at Cleveland once a week. I occasionally drive it to work on a property we own at Runcorn, trips to the dump and visits to places as necessary south of the Brisbane River.

We have been on longer runs to places such as Airlie Beach.  It was very comfortable on that and other such trips. One of the comfort features is that it is so quiet and of course one is seated in a relatively upright position, versus a more reclining position in a conventional sedan.

If this car were written off I would buy another, because it meets my utilitarian needs.



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