Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

This new plug-in hybrid powertrain could save buyers tens of thousands of dollars

The future of plug-in hybrid models could be advanced by smart technologies, and the good news is the cars will be cheaper!

There’s a new plug-in hybrid powertrain in development that is set to drive down the cost of PHEV models by thousands of dollars.

The new system - developed by Continental tyre company’s powertrain section Vitesco Technologies - will see a change in the thinking behind PHEV powertrains - and it comes down to a smarter transmission, rather than improved battery tech.

Vitesco claims it will develop “very compact automatic transmissions” with an integrated high-voltage electric motor on the output side. This will allow the so-called DHT transmission to allow the driver to use the electric motor to take off from a standing start in first or second gear, and reversing moves would also be done using the electric motor.

According to the company the advantage of the tech is that there are no synchromesh systems, dual-clutch setups or auxiliary hydraulics. And beyond the first two electric gears, there are four further mechanical drive gears - but the team behind the tech says it “offers the driver the same standard of comfortable driving and shifting” as a conventional six-speed auto.

The transmission is designed for compact front-wheel drive cars “where installation space is always a challenge”, and the company says that - if fitted with a low-cost petrol engine, the powertrain could allow emissions free driving in all-electric mode (up to 120km/h), while hybrid mode could be capable of 160km/h.

“So far it has not been possible to tap the full potential of plug-in hybrids and full hybrids for reducing CO2 emissions because the expensive powertrain of these vehicles puts them out of reach for many customers,” said Stephan Rebhan, head of technology and innovation at Vitesco Technologies.

“We have identified further potential here which our DHT technology for cost-effective PHEVs is designed to leverage. With a view to cutting CO2 emissions, PHEVs are a form of electric mobility which deserves to become much more successful in the future.”

Currently, the most affordable plug-in hybrid models in Australia are the Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid (from $41,990 plus on-road costs) and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (from $45,990 plus on-roads).

Compare that with the current most affordable non-plug-in hybrids on the market, and it’s clear that the company is onto something. The most affordable hybrids are the Toyota Prius C (from $24,040), Toyota Corolla Hybrid (from $26,335).