The first few days of living with the pair of Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs that we collected on Saturday from Charles Warner in Lincoln have already started to show the potential of the electric rechargeable hybrids. Running around at the weekend gave me an average of over 70 MPG and after a bit of time reading the handbook and thinking about how the system works my 18 mile commute to work on Monday was 90% electric with about half charge left for the rest of the day. It’s already pretty clear however that I’m going to need a way of recharging near the office to get the maximum benefit out of the car.
Driving the car is just like driving any other automatic except for the SILENCE – it feels a bit strange starting up and moving off with no engine noise or feel and first thing Monday morning, trying to manoeuvre on our drive, my brain was momentarily struggling with the concept as I switched on the power and drove towards the side of my wife’s car (missed it).
So far, the driving experience has been very good, although the car’s weight made itself known a couple of times on Saturday – probably more due to my driving style not having adapted quickly enough from rear wheel drive cars than anything else – but as the motoring press have commented the batteries lower the centre of gravity so there is no issue with body role and the ride is better than I had expected.
There have been a couple of glitches on the charging side. The main problem for both Phil and I is that the Outlander is a big car and the Polar charging units that have been installed at our houses through the British Gas scheme just don’t have a long enough cable to easily connect up. I’m managing at the moment by doing some judicious reversing very close to the house and then running the cable under the garage door but I’ll have to get the charging unit relocated and a longer cable installed as soon as possible. Phil is having similar problems and is having to get so close that he can’t open the charging flap fully.
The other very surprising thing is that the flap covering the charging point on the car opens like a fuel cover – it hinges forward against the wing so that while the car is charging it is sticking out at 90 degrees – I think it’s only a matter of time before someone walks into it and damages the rear wing, particularly if it is charging in a public area. The obvious solution would seem to be a top hinged cover which would have rested on the charging plug when in use.
We will be monitoring the MPG and business use over the coming year and reporting our experiences with the PHEVs as part of our commitment to “Investors In The Environment” but today I managed to drive to the office, visit both Hodgson Elkington and Duncan Toplis and almost got back to 26 Westgate again running 100% electric. Fairly steady driving but 60 mph on the commute in and 70 mph on the dual carriageway so it’s looking good so far.
Over the next few months we will be working with Peterborough Environment City Trust team who are helping to guide our application for the Investors In The Environment Green Award, which we hope to achieve this autumn.