The new Channel 4 Dispatches investigation will air tonight and reveal that hybrid cars produce higher levels of harmful emissions than diesel vehicles.

A test of six hybrids, two diesels and one petrol model found the partially-electrified cars produced more volatile organic compounds – or VOCs – than the entirely fossil-fueled vehicles.

VOCs can be chemicals that emit gases as a result of some liquids like petrol or diesel. VOCs may cause ground-level smog and cancer at high levels, according to the report.

On Monday at 8:30 PM, the report also examines the state of UK’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The report reveals that more than 20% of UK public chargers are currently out of use. Some charge points have even been closed for six years.

Are hybrids more harmful than diesels? Channel 4 Dispatches investigation will reveal that hybrid cars are emitting higher levels of potentially dangerous volatile organic compounds

Is hybrid diesel more hazardous than hybrids? Channel 4 Dispatches’ investigation will uncover that hybrid cars emit higher levels of volatile organic compounds.

Channel 4 collaborated with Emissions Analysis, an UK company to uncover the larger polluting effect of hybrids cars.

Hybrids currently make up almost half of all registered vehicles in the UK. 

They can be used as a transitional step from diesel and petrol cars to electric. Their eco-benefits include the reduction of exhaust gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide. 

Six of the most recent models were evaluated and found to produce more VOCs than cars that use internal combustion engines during cold starts. 

Test vehicles were hybrids that included both plug-in hybrids (which offer longer electric-only driving distances) and traditional hybrids which can’t be plugged into a charging station.

Mild hybrids were both diesel and petrol models with small electric motors and batteries to complement the engine. However, they did not actually drive the wheels. 

Emissions Analytics drove every car on the road during the study. 

All hybrids did worse in cold starts than new diesel cars, emitting more VOCs. 

Volatile organic compounds are chemicals that are emitted as gases from some liquids, including petrol and diesel. At certain levels VOCs can cause cancer and ground-level smog

Volatile organic compound are chemicals which are released as gas from certain liquids like petrol and diesel. VOCs may cause cancer at high levels and ground-level pollution.

VOC gases emitted in exhausts from vehicles, such as formaldehyde and other compounds, are not yet measured or regulated.

James Hobday, business development director at Emissions Analytics, explains: ‘It’s often a simplification when people look at emissions to say that electric is good and diesel is bad. 

“In cold starts, VOCS of electrified cars was often higher than that for diesels. The diesels performed better than petrols. 

‘The prevailing wisdom that electric cars are clean when it comes to VOCs it isn’t the case.

“The VOCs that we discovered, such as formaldehyde and benzene, were in significant quantities.” Research is needed to determine acceptable VOC levels.

The UK will continue to sell some new hybrid vehicles after the ban on petrol and diesel cars in showrooms is lifted for 2030.

The hybrid, which combines electric motors with a battery and an internal combustion engine (normally petrol), will still be available for sale until 2035. However, the government has not yet clarified if these will only be plug-in hybrids or conventional hybrids. 

Dispatches inquired about VOC emissions revealed in Department for Transport’s Sutdy.

A spokesperson told them: ‘We’re on course to become the first G7 nation to fully decarbonise cars and vans. 

“Hybrid vans and cars have an important role in reaching our phase-out deadline. We will not allow them to be sold before 2030 or 2035 if their zero emission capabilities are significant. 

All new vehicles and cars will have zero tailpipe emissions by 2035. We will regulate non-electric vehicle emissions before 2035.

Dispatches will also reveal that it found that more than 1 in 20 public electric car chargers were out of order in Britain when it reviewed available devices on a single day in September

Dispatches also revealed that it discovered that over 1 in 20 of the available public electric car chargers in Britain were not working when it examined them on September 1, 2012.

Dispatches exposes UK’s low level of public charging

Channel 4 also revealed the shocking state of Britain’s electric car charging networks in this evening’s program.

With the assistance of Zap-Map the second portion of the investigation looked at public charging infrastructure availability in a one-day sample. This was done to see what existing owners of EVs might face if they wanted to charge their vehicles on a September day.

The report found that there are over 26,000 chargers in Britain at the moment. However, not all of them work. 

This study revealed that 52% (more than 1,300 chargers) had been thrown out of service.

There were 840 slow chargers out of commission that day. However, 10 percent of rapid devices, which offer quicker charging times and are available for use due to current faults were inaccessible.

Additionally, it found that 33% of super-rapid charging devices (or 30%) were not working when the study was completed.

Incredibly, Dispatches also discovered that some charge points have been broken for years. 

This charger at the Metrocentre shopping centre in Gateshead has been out of order for six years, it has been revealed

It has been discovered that the charger in Metrocentre’s shopping center at Gateshead was out of service for six years.

Interviewed EV drivers for this report, they said that Litchfield charge points were out of commission for three years; one on the Isle of Wight had been inactive for five years, while the Metrocentre retail centre in Gateshead was not available for six.

Gateshead Metrocentre responded by saying that the charger was an experimental prototype at a test site. It used obsolete technology and cannot be repaired. They will remove it. 

“All of our rapid and fast chargers are now operational, and we will be adding new EV parking bays in 2022.”

DfT spokeswoman said: “We want to make it as simple and easy as possible for electric vehicles to be charged. 

‘That’s why the Government has just committed £620 million to support the transition to electric vehicles on top of the £1.9bn from Spending Review 2020.’ 


Logo L&C

Affiliate links may appear in some of the links. We may receive a commission if you click them. This helps to fund This Is Money and keeps it free of charge. Our articles aren’t written for the purpose of promoting products. Our editorial independence is not affected by any commercial relationships.