*Other powertrains are available.


I drove to Burnley last week, starting the journey with a full tank. A round trip of 428 miles from Buckinghamshire at an average speed of “just under 70mph, officer” and, when I finally got back home, I still had over 250 miles of range left. That’s right, I could have driven close to 700 miles on one 65-litre tank of diesel.

Yes, I did just own up to owning a car powered by the dreaded d-word.

The fact of the matter is that the car I used for my arduous trip was highly fit for purpose and, until about 18 months ago, the canny choice. Now though, diesel has suddenly become a dinosaur, a hang-over from a previous era that has outstayed its welcome; a bit like Benny Hill or Are You Being Served.

Surely, I should have moved on to a BEV (battery electric vehicle), a plug-in hybrid1, a REX’d-up BEV (Range Extending Battery Electric Vehicle)2 or a Mild Hybrid (non Plug-in Hybrid)3 by now?

In theory, 200 miles there and 200 miles back is easily within the capabilities of most modern high-capacity BEVs – the new Jaguar I-Pace is particularly compelling, promising close to 300 miles of range on the new tougher WLTP testing cycle. Hybrids are also credible options.


But what if I want to go there and back without the hassle of having to stop to fill up? Charging might not be an option at the destination, for example, or it may just be that a £1.50 per litre “splash and dash” at Sandbach services doesn’t appeal.

Don’t get me wrong – no one has a problem stopping for fuel or charging when you’ve got time on your side. It’s different though when you’re chasing the clock or running late for a flight.

Suddenly, the multitude of choices is whittled down to conventional ICE (internal combustion engine) options or a hybrid that might make it at a push, with a full battery at the outset. It’s stressful playing chicken with the “range to empty” readout, only traditional tech gives me that sense of having plenty in the tank as I home in on home and that refreshing pint after eight hours at the wheel.

It seems that we’re in danger of engineering complexity back into our lives when all the research is telling us that “convenience is the new premium”. It certainly feels to me that the tech-heavy “cutting edge” mobility solutions are having to work extra hard to get on a not-so-equal footing with the current options out there.

Are we throwing the baby out with the bath water in our rush to alternative-fuelled vehicles? Particularly full EVs.

I appreciate I sound like the idiot who predicted the internet would never catch on, or that the world will only ever need six computers. I also agree that, with rapidly developing technology, the electric offering is improving at a rate of knots and will soon be on a par with other powertrains and then surpassing them. Five years from now it could be a whole different kettle of fish.

But we are where we are; and we’re not there yet.

At this point in time I just wish the powers that be, leading with Her Majesty’s Government, would take a more informed pragmatic approach. The Chancellor, for example, is really not helping right now, (particularly our domestic car industry) with some ridiculously unbalanced policy decisions around vehicle taxation that are so ridiculous that they wouldn’t look out of place on an episode of The Benny Hill Show.

One thing’s for certain though: the car manufacturers aren’t laughing.

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1 Plug-in hybrid – a hybrid that needs to be plugged into the mains – PHEV – eg Mitsubishi Outlander

2 BEV with REX = Range extending Battery Electric Vehicle – car has a small ICE (internal combustion engine) that runs as a generator to power the battery (doesn’t directly power the wheels) – eg BMW i3 REX

3 Mild Hybrid (HEV) = non-plug-in hybrid (Lexus GS 300h)


Associate Director and all round Petrolhead

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