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Toyota RAV4 Hybrid? Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV? No, hybrids are not good enough: Skoda Australia

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid?  Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV?  No, hybrids are not good enough: Skoda Australia

Can’t decide whether your next car should be a hybrid or an all-electric car? Perhaps the boss of Skoda Australia can help you make up your mind – he doesn’t believe in hybrids, so the brand will move straight to electric cars, starting with the Enyaq’s launch next year.

That’s right, you won’t see Skoda selling a hybrid in Australia: not now, not ever. Not whether the brand’s director Michael Irmer has anything to do with it, he told us at the recent unveiling of the new Fabia.

“The regular hybrids like Toyota’s, I think we all know what they’re good at and what they’re not good at,” he said.

Read more about the Skoda Enyaq

Mr. Irmer is not being deliberately cryptic. He has disclosed in the past that non-plug-in hybrids, such as the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, for example, are not as “green” as they may seem.

“The key to these hybrids is that they make people feel good about buying something that is ostensibly green, but only slightly more expensive. The reality is that fuel economy is lower in stop-and-go traffic, but in different driving conditions the opposite may be the case.”

Mr Irmer sees plug-in hybrids as a better alternative. Instead of charging via on-board regenerative braking like regular hybrids, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) battery is charged by connecting to an external power supply with a cable. This can be done via sockets in the house, a specially installed wall unit in the house or an even more powerful public fast charger.

Mr Irmer said Skoda sees PHEVs in Europe as a stepping stone to all-electric vehicles, also known as battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), but said he has lost the opportunity to sell plug-in hybrids in Australia, despite the fact that sister brand Volkswagen continues with models such as the Touareg R PHEV.

“In Europe there is a range of plug-in hybrids, Skoda has plug-in hybrids and we were asked if we were interested,” he said.

“We decided at the time that we would jump straight to BEV cars. That’s because in Europe the plug-in hybrids got a big subsidy because their costs are huge. We also have a few in Australia, in the Volkswagen group, and sales of the plug-in hybrids are not that high because not every customer sees the benefit that equates to the price increase.

“That’s why we jump on BEV cars right away. Time will tell if this is the right decision or not. I think as the company goes through this transformation, in some ways it’s good to focus your energy on what you believe in and what the end goal is and that’s going electric.”

Skoda Australia’s first electric car will be the Enyaq SUV. Mr Irmer couldn’t tell us how much the Enyaq would cost, but it will be available in regular SUV and coupe bodies.

In the UK, the entry-level Enyaq 60 costs £34,850, which is about A$61,400. The Enyaq 60 comes with a 58 kWh battery and a single electric motor with an output of 132 kW and 310 Nm that drives the front wheels. The 60 has a range of 405 km.

The Enyaq 80 raises the price by more than $10K, but has a 77 kWh battery, 150 kW/310 Nm motor and a range of 529 km.

Coupe grades will most likely come in both battery sizes too, but the body shape will likely command a higher price.

Skoda confirmed CarsGuide that the Enyaq SUV and Enyaq Coupe will be available for order in 2023, with deliveries in March 2024.

As Volkswagen rolls out its electric cars in Australia such as the ID.3, ID.4 and ID.5, you can expect Skoda to launch its corresponding models that will share much of the same technology and engineering.