Home special-report Petrol or Plug – asking the right questions

Petrol or Plug – asking the right questions

Petrol or Plug – asking the right questions

Deciding on whether it’s the right time for you to make the leap into electric motoring is all about asking the right questions.

Right now, we have more choice of engines and power sources in the motoring world than ever before. You can choose from plain old petrol or diesel; you can go for LPG power in one or two cases; you can have a mild-hybrid, a regular hybrid, a range-extender hybrid, or a plug-in hybrid; or you can bite the bullet and go fully electric.

Working out if that’s right for you starts with one question above all else — do you have a driveway, or some other form of off-street parking, to which you can easily run a high-voltage cable to install a home charging point?

To be frank, if you don’t, then a fully electric car, or a plug-in hybrid, just isn’t for you. The public charging network is simply not yet developed enough, nor reliable enough, to support those who want to go electric but who, for example, live in a terraced house. Even Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has acknowledged this difficulty.

If that’s you, then consider a non-plug-in hybrid instead, or as frugal and efficient a petrol or diesel model as suits your needs.

For the rest of the questions you should ask yourself, see our Q&A.

Of course, you shouldn’t just be asking these questions yourself…

National charging network

One of the most important jobs of anyone selling cars right now is to help prospective customers decide whether they should go electric now, or wait for either the next generation of EV cars, or wait for there to be an actual, fit-for-purpose national charging network.

“Peugeot offers solutions for all types of customers based on their consumption habits in the modern age. Mileage, usage and charging are the questions that need to be considered by our customers to find the best fit. This year we see an extension to our electric ranges on our models to 400km for e208 and e2008.

“The new e308 will be launched this year also with a range of 400km too. We have very exciting news coming later this year with a new BEV model to be added to the portfolio with a range of 700km WLTP in 2024” said Ciarán Cusack, marketing manager for Peugeot Ireland.

“We will also be launching our new mild hybrid engines (MHEV) later this year in the 3008 and 5008 which will offer CO2 savings of 22g versus our current automatic petrol models. Mild hybrid technology will play a part in the transition to full electric on all our ranges by getting customers used to driving on full electric modes.”

This is all good news, but it also means that it’s really incumbent on the sales staff in dealerships to act as honest and reliable guides to the confusing family tree of electric, part-electric, and combustion models.

“A lot of people are interested in Electric driving, thanks to it’s increased popularity and the attention it is getting in the media” said Cusack. “However, It is important that sales staff qualify each person to ensure they are suited to an electric car by asking questions such as do you have private parking where you can install an EV wall box? Do you have more that one car in your household? Do you own or rent your property? Do you work nearby? How much mileage do you drive? Do you need to tow a trailer? These and other questions will determine if EV, plug-in hybrid (PHEV) or an internal combustion engine (ICE) model will be the best option for the customer.”

According to Cusack, what it all come down to, really, is lifestyle and how and where you do your driving. “If you do a lot of driving as part of your job or lifestyle an ICE or MHEV is currently still the best option however this will change as things progress” said Cusack. “The infrastructure is improving, albeit slowly, with the roll out of fast charging stations nationwide, the battery power and performance is increasing in vehicles, and the technology is advancing so that charging time is reducing.”

Audi is another brand which offers a full complement of different power options for its cars, and Audi Ireland acknowledges the difficulty that opens up, both for consumers, and for the industry that’s trying to sell them the right product for their needs.

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“Never before has the motor industry needed to be so dynamic” said Deirdre Schwer, head of marketing and customer experience for Audi Ireland. “In a time of immense mounting climate pressures, sustainability has never been more important and Audi are meeting that challenge head on.”

Interestingly, given the huge publicity afforded to electric vehicles, Schwer says that there is still a demand — a need, even — for good combustion engine models that offer economy and low emissions. “Despite this industry revolution, we are still noticing that there is a definite need for internal combustion — petrol or diesel —engine cars in the Irish market” said Schwer.

“We are seeing more and more customers attending our showrooms countrywide with the petrol or plug question front of mind. Our dealerships’ role in this context is to ensure customers are furnished with the right information to make an informed choice.

“Audi sales teams are rigorously trained to walk the customer through the various considerations, from factoring in the primary needs of a household and the capabilities at hand, particularly from a charging perspective. In the main, our customers’ decision at this time is essentially guided by practical factors and we’re confident that Audi’s product portfolio caters for all possible customer requirements, especially in the current environment.”