Chris Harris and the Polestar 1: why hybrid cars are a better bet right now
The received wisdom says it’s time to go electric, but there’s life left in the humble hybrid yet, says Chris
I am now 2,000 miles into my hybrid adventure and can confidently say I’m very glad I didn’t buy an electric car. The UK is so deficient in EV infrastructure that relying on it as a means of transportation defeats the point of owning a car – being able to go places as and when you want to. Dealing with train delays and taxi drivers who haven’t a clue where they’re going is far less stressful than nursing a dying EV. Also, most of the public chargers are broken or busy, and home charging isn’t always an option for me.
I’ve had serious stick from people for taking the hybrid. There are two camps of critics: the EV zealots who refuse to see any other way and condemn anyone who doesn’t agree with them to a status just below a murderer, and EV owners who totally dismiss problems surrounding public chargers and range, then later reveal they have acres of off-street parking and a chauffeur driven diesel S-Class to ensure they can keep moving on longer trips.
But for now a hybrid works really well in the UK – silent motoring in town and then the long-range ability of an ICE out on faster roads. It seems like the way forward to me, but of course the genesis of the hybrid car is already over – governments are banning them alongside standard ICE machines, and that really is a wasted opportunity. Making big societal changes takes time and there have to be stages of development. In no other area of present day life in the UK would its population be forced to make such a profound change with no interim steps. Sadly, the hybrid proves that there is a solution to the shift from fossil to electrons, but governments don’t want to make life easier for the majority of their voters. They want to appease the noisy minority.
So the Polestar 1, my hybrid, is just the best solution for the way I use a motor car. I can sometimes charge it overnight, which gives me about 70 miles of pure EV schlepping in town. That covers all short and medium trips – within the confines of greater Bristol, I don’t think the petrol engine has ever fired up. I’d be lying if I didn’t feel a little smug about that, and in return understand the moral superiority enjoyed by so many EV zealots.
When a charger doesn’t work or the battery runs out, there’s a 308bhp range extender to fall back on and if you want to combine the two, it’s a 600bhp loon which can stick one on an RS4.
Like anyone who has something new and clever I am now annoyingly keen to tell people how great it is. And like one of those evangelical types who thinks that theirs is the only way forward, I am mostly unprepared for people to question the genius of my new car. So when someone recently said: “That’s all very well Chris, but it’s £150,000, left-hand drive and you’re the only person in the UK to have bought one,” I didn’t have much to retort. What I should have said is that if car companies had been given the chance to invest in these things, the tech in a Polestar 1 could easily have been available for a quarter of the price.
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