Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) still have a big role to play in electrification, as a way to help ease drivers across from petrol or diesel cars to fully electric vehicles (EVs), according to PSA Group.

Helen Lees, the firm's head of EVs and connected services, spoke to Business Car at an Auto Futures Live seminar entitled 'The Future of Fuel'.

PSA - which owns brands including Peugeot, Citroën, Vauxhall and DS - is pursuing a diverse electrified powertrain approach based on vehicle size, with pure electric being the preferred choice in superminis such as the upcoming new Peugeot 208 and Vauxhall Corsa, and a plug-in hybrid option set to arrive in larger vehicles such as the Vauxhall Grandland X SUV. An electrified version of every PSA vehicle is planned by 2025.

Lees told Business Car it was a concern that plug-in hybrid registrations in the UK had fallen recently, which she attributed to the government's removal of grant support.

She said: "For a lot of customers that are nervous to make the jump to battery electric, a plug-in hybrid can be a really useful middle ground. Also, it is just far more viable and suitable for people who could maybe commute on the battery all week and then do a longer journey at the weekend. It is a more versatile solution that would meet a lot of customers' needs, and that they would have less concerns about operating.

"We are bringing newer plug-in hybrids to the market, as a lot of other manufacturers are, so hopefully we can get away from some of the historic bad press, where it was all largely to do with tax benefits and discounts up front.

"I think ultimately you need to change consumer behaviour. When you are operating a plug-in hybrid, there is no environmental benefit if you don't charge it, and there are lots of different ways in which you can help educate consumers on that, or reward them in terms of business mileage appropriately for using electricity."

Lees said that a big factor in driving EV take-up is persuading customers to look at total cost of ownership, rather than just the upfront cost of a car.

PSA expects 7% of the vehicles it sells in Europe next year to be plug-in, while 19% of UK sales of the new 208 in its first year are expected to be of the electric version.

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