Mitsubishi in the UK has said that action is needed to boost sales of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) in Britain as the segment falls back following the withdrawal of purchase grants.

The distributor for the Mitsubishi Outlander points out that pure electric vehicles account for around 1% of the car market and maintains that the UK government 'massively underestimates benefits of PHEVs'. It says that half of average weekly mileage for PHEVs is in EV mode – improving CO2 emissions and improving air quality in high-traffic areas.

It also says the Outlander PHEV experience means 25% most likely to consider a pure electric vehicle for their potential next purchase.

PHEVs present an opportunity to introduce people to electric motoring, while also addressing the short term pollution issues, but the UK 'government has turned its back on the technology because of misconceptions about what motivates people to buy them'.

The government has, for example, completely withdrawn the Plug-in Car Grant and offers no VED benefits for Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles compared to more polluting vehicles.

However Mitsubishi says a recent survey of drivers of the UK's most popular Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, has shown that fuel economy and running costs are the primary reasons for choosing their PHEV.

The survey, undertaken by Kadence International, a global market research company on behalf of Mitsubishi Motors in the UK, showed that fuel economy was amongst the most important deciding factors for 86% of Outlander PHEV owners, closely followed by running costs for 85% of drivers and environmental friendliness for 81%.

To make substantial savings, owners need to plug their PHEVs in regularly and the survey also reveals that 90% of Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV owners surveyed charge their vehicles at least two to three times per week, with 68% charging every day. The plug-in hybrid also provides the perfect segue to a pure electric future. The survey also reveals that 25% of Outlander PHEV owners are most likely to consider a pure electric vehicle for their potential next purchase.

Mitsubishi Motors in the UK says it is calling on the government to be more inclusive of gateway technologies and to incentivise private buyers to make the first step away from pure petrol or diesel power by lowering running costs and rolling out more on-street and residential charging for people without driveways.

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the UK's best-selling plug-in hybrid vehicle, with around 45,000 on UK roads, and the survey sample was chosen entirely at random from the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV customer base – which Mitsubishi says means the results are a genuinely realistic reflection of how these vehicles are used.

See also: PHEVs take a hit as UK April car market falls