2016’s biggest electric and hybrid launches
BMW 330 e (April)
The first plug-in hybrid 3 Series will arrive in the UK in April, combining a 182bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine and 107bhp electric motor to send 249bhp to the rear wheels. Its 25-mile electric range contributes to 49g/km CO2 emissions and 148.7mpg fuel economy regardless of whether it’s ordered in SE, Sport, Luxury or M Sport guise, which is good news for company car drivers. Prices start at £28,895 after the revised Plug-in Car Grant.
Ford Focus Electric (Q4)
By the end of the decade, Ford wants to have 40% of its global nameplates equipped with hybrid or fully electric drivetrains, and it’s investing £3bn to make that happen. The next Focus Electric will begin production at the end of the year and, though details are limited, it will feature DC rapid charging for an 80% top-up in half an hour – just like the Nissan LEAF – which will transform its usability and should generate more interest.
Hyundai IONIQ and Kia Niro (summer)
In the summer, Hyundai and its sister company Kia will both launch vehicles based on a newly-developed platform designed specifically for hybrid and electric drivetrains, but their approaches are very different. The Hyundai IONIQ looks like a regular five-door hatch and will get electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid drivetrains. Kia’s Niro will join its crossover line-up, and there are no plans for a completely electric model yet – the carmaker already has the Soul EV in that segment.
Kia Optima PHEV (summer)
Kia is serious about upping the Optima’s volume, and catering for European tastes with a wider choice of drivetrains and an estate. But there’s fleet potential for its first plug-in hybrid variant – this will use a 2.0-litre, 154bhp petrol engine and 67bhp electric motor, the latter supplied by a 9.8kWh lithium-polymer battery. The target is a 27-mile electric range and 48mpg with a depleted battery – that should equate to around 50g/km CO2 emissions and strong corporate appeal.
Lexus RX 450 h (January)
Almost 97% of Lexus’s UK sales to the end of November featured a hybrid drivetrain, and its rejection of diesel engines is beginning to pay off. The new RX 450h might use a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and offer four-wheel drive, but (ignoring the very variable real-world performance of this sector’s plug-in hybrids) it’s claiming a class-leading 120g/km and 54.3mpg. Four trim levels are available, too.
Mitsubishi ASX PHEV (summer)
Mitsubishi has previewed the next ASX with several concept cars, and it’s likely that the new model will break cover in the first quarter of 2016 before going on sale during the summer. The brand has already enjoyed huge popularity with the Outlander PHEV, which accounts for two thirds of Plug-in Car Grant applications in the UK, and has made no secret of its intentions to offer something similar in its smallest crossover.
Tesla Model X (Q2)
Disruptive Californian EV manufacturer Tesla will bring its premium SUV to the UK in the first half of the year. It shares its platform and drivetrains with the Model S, offering up to 751bhp with a 250-mile range, but the rest is unique. All of the seven seats move independently, while the ‘Falcon Wing’ doors open upwards, requiring only 30cm of space either side. Given the popularity of premium SUVs, this could be a big-seller while Tesla awaits the compact executive Model 3 in 2017.
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid (January)
Launched as part of a facelift for 2016, the RAV4 will get a lower-powered version of the hybrid drivetrain fitted to the NX 300h, with which it shares a platform. It’s offered in three trim levels including fleet-targeted Business Edition Plus platform, which is priced at £26,195 on the road, and offers CO2 emissions of 115g/km with 57.6mpg fuel economy. That’s lower on CO2 than the diesel version.
Toyota Prius (Spring)
Toyota’s pioneering Prius enters its fourth generation as a record-setter, returning up to 94.2mpg with CO2 emissions of 70g/km. That’s enough to place it in the 9% BiK band and make it one of only two non-plug-in vehicles to be exempt from the London Congestion Charge – the other is the much smaller Yaris Hybrid. A plug-in hybrid version, possibly including wireless charging, is also in the works. Deliveries begin in March.
Volkswagen Tiguan GTE (Q3/4)
Mitsubishi has proved that a combination of crossover styling and plug-in hybrid tax costs can be an attractive proposition, so a production version of the Tiguan GTE concept shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show can’t be too far behind the petrol and diesel versions. It uses a similar 215bhp plug-in hybrid drivetrain as the equivalent Passat and Golf, offering a 30-mile electric range with CO2 emissions of 42g/km and official combined fuel consumption of 149mpg.
Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine (Q1)
The long-awaited plug-in hybrid XC90 will begin UK deliveries at the start of the year. Already accounting for a quarter of orders, which are unsurprisingly heavily weighted towards fleets, Volvo is already taking orders for the 2017 model year. However, without a small price cut, this will cease to be eligible for the Plug-in Car Grant once PHEVs become subject to £60,000 price cap in March.