Green references for hybrid cars under surveillance
Sales of the cars, which use both a conventional combustion engine and a small electric motor, allowing owners to drive a few kilometers without emitting CO2, could soon overtake those of gasoline vehicles in the EU.
In the third quarter of this year, 20.7% of cars sold in the block were new hybrid versions whose batteries are recharged by recovering wasted energy from elsewhere, such as braking, and 9.1% were plug-in. hybrid ins that can be recharged from an electrical outlet. .
Almost 40% were gasoline, 17.6% diesel and only 9.8% were fully electric.
Less expensive than fully electric cars, they also reassure those who fear their battery will run out at a time when charging stations are not yet widespread.
Automotive giants like Toyota, Stellantis, Renault and Hyundai-Kia are betting on hybrids, in particular because they allow them to comply with European standards on CO2 emissions at a lower cost than fully electric cars.
But are they really less polluting or rather a transitional solution as the world prepares to completely abandon gasoline and diesel?
Greenpeace and the Transport & Environment lobby group believe that hybrids are actually slowing down this transition.
They want to speed up the shift to all-electric and other forms of transportation, pointing out that hybrids are not so green.
“Conventional ‘full’ hybrids in particular, which run mostly on fossil fuels, are hardly cleaner than traditional gasoline and diesel engines,” Greenpeace said last year.
Marie Cheron of the Nicolas Hulot Foundation in France, an environmental group, endorsed this opinion.
“For example, some hybrids were bought for fleets (of cars), they don’t have a system that allows them to charge, people don’t charge them, so they don’t run electric.”
But Philippe Degeilh, engineer at IFP Energies Nouvelles (Ifpen), a research group on energy, transport and the environment, believes that it is enough to learn how to use hybrids well.
According to an Ifpen study published at the end of 2020, hybrids emit on average 12% less CO2 than a similar gasoline car.
This rises to 33% in the city, while it drops to almost zero on the highways.
According to Ifpen, plug-ins that run smoothly – drain batteries less – and often recharge are “capable of near zero emissions.”
“A household that has only one car may have a better environmental record with a hybrid car rather than an electric car with a large battery. It is designed to do 50 kilometers a day and sometimes to go on. vacation, ”Degeilh said.
To stay or not?
Meanwhile, fully electric cars aren’t necessarily that green, either.
Their increasingly large batteries require a lot of energy in their production.
Where the electricity comes from is also important in determining their environmental credentials.
The debate around hybrids is also political.
As the EU plans to ban the sale of gasoline and diesel engines from 2035, part of the auto industry wants to ensure a role for hybrids.
“We believe the hybrid is here to stay,” Jim Crosbie, director of Toyota Motor Manufacturing France, told AFP.
Hybrids – excluding plug-ins – represent 70% of the Japanese group’s sales in Western Europe.
“If we are talking about a model life cycle of seven to nine years, it will remain an important asset for us in the years to come,” he said.