In March 2020, after having searched for 6 months to find exactly what we were looking for, we struck upon a unicorn! A used car dealer in Brisbane was advertising a 2017 Mitzubishi Outlander Exceed Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) with 20,000km on the clock for under $40,000. We were sold!
We called her Felicity – because it rhymes with Electricity.
We love our Outlander which has all the creature comforts that our previous car, a Subaru Forester, had including sunroof, leather seats, all wheel drive, driver assist technology and automatic tailgate. By far the best feature though, is our ability to undertake most of our day to day driving activities with zero exhaust emissions. While we can’t say our driving is completely emissions free because we do charge from the grid sometimes, a lot of our charging comes from our 7.9kW solar system and, most days, we produce more electricity than we use overall, even with charging our car. We also subscribe to Ergon’s Clean Energy Program which helps to make our driving as close to emissions free as we can manage at the moment.
The PHEV was the ideal option for us in 2020 because, unfortunately, there were still only a few low emissions options for family vehicles in Australia and none of those with the range we would need to easily drive the distances we sometimes do were within our price range.
Officially, the PHEV should operate as an electric vehicle for the first 50km. In reality, especially in Cairns where we almost invariably use the climate control, we get approximately 30-35km. This more than covers our usual day of driving to school, daycare, work, swimming or tennis lessons and back home. After that initial EV phase, the car operates as a hybrid vehicle and has a total range of 450km which means we have no range anxiety and are able to drive distances without worry. We’ve taken the Outlander to Townsville several times, to Airlie Beach once and even all the way down to Lennox Head in Northern NSW last Christmas. Because our focus is on low emissions driving, we always plan the playground stop or lunch break at a location that also has a fast charger.
These days, we rarely need to refuel our car unless we are going on a longer trip to Townsville or sometimes to the Tablelands. The regenerative breaking means coming down the Gillies recharges the battery with more than 10km but several trips will mean a visit to the Petrol Station is required. The Outlander has an inbuilt mechanism that cuts out the EV function until you refuel if you haven’t used at least 15L of petrol within 3 months and we have had this reminder several times since owning it. Overall, having the car has increased our home electricity usage by around 80-100kW per month for a cost of approximately $20 which is a huge saving on the 60L petrol engine of the Subaru which needed refilling every couple of weeks or so.
The things we love most about the PHEV are how quiet it is, the smooth response when you accelerate, knowing we are minimising the emissions associated with driving and the lack of petrol smell (which we’ve become much more sensitive to since reducing our exposure to it). We were also happy to buy second hand which reduced the concern regarding embodied emissions in vehicle manufacture.
We certainly hope our next car will be a pure EV but for now, we’re extremely happy with Felicity.