Hybrid SUV 4wd Outlander Review

Ok well after owning the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV for over 6 months now it is time to share our experience.   Initially when we purchased the PHEV there were a couple of things on the test drive that I was concerned about.

1) The short battery range of 35 klm ( compared with 65 for the Volt)

2) The kicking-in of the petrol engine (just like most hybrids when you accelerate quickly)

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As I drove a Gen 1 Toyota Prius for over 5 years I have had good experience with Hybrid vehicles before and one of the things I disliked about the Prius was when the petrol engine engaged. I wanted to avoid that in my next hybrid/electric vehicle purchase as much as possible so I was very concious of this when test driving the PHEV.  What I have found with the PHEV is that you can comfortable use it as a daily driver without the petrol engine engaging at all, Mitsubishi have given the electric drive chain enough power to enable you to accelerate at an acceptable level before the petrol engine has to “kick in”.

My wife drives the PHEV on a daily basis to take the kids to school and do the normal running around, while I drive the Holden Volt as my daily driver.  When we purchased the PHEV the goal was to keep it charged during the day (using the solar panels on our home) and therefore avoid charging off grid electricity and using peak tariff. I can happily say our goal of charging the vehicles using solar is working and we have had no extra costs added to our power bill since purchasing the two electric/plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

In relation to the short battery range of the PHEV, we have actually not found this as a big a problem as you might expect, the reason being that school is approximately 8 klm from home so we easily go to school and back and then plug the vehicle in whilst it is at home. What this means is that for every day usage we have no need to use petrol at all.

When we to take the PHEV on a long drive, a very cool function is the ability to put the vehicle in charge whilst driving, this means the petrol engine powers the vehicles drivetrain whilst also acting as a generator and charging the batteries at the same time, this then gives you a full range of around 400klm before you need to find a petrol station to refuel.

So in summary for a first generation SUV Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle I am very impressed with the Outlander. I am sure as technology improves we will continue to see longer ranges and more power but for the time being there is not a lot of choice and the PHEV does exactly that it is designed to do.

Paraplanner

Contract Paraplanning ServicesWell 2016 will be the start of a new challenge for me with the purchase of Paraplanner.com.au

I have been looking for a while for a business that has the ability to scale and grow in a rapidly expanding market and this business has that and more.

Outsourcing is starting to gain traction around the world as businesses realise the potential to reduce costs and increase their bottom line with “as you need them” services that are becoming available via the internet.  Paraplanning is a perfect example of a profession where you, as the paraplanner, have the autonomy to be able to work from home whilst still generating an excellent income.  Paraplanner.com.au merges highly skilled paraplanners with financial planning practices that can see the benefits of using outsourcing for the production of their statement of advice documents.

To help advice practices understand the savings they can achieve we have created a Contract Paraplanner Cost Estimate calculator which illustrates the benefits of a pay per use model, compared with hiring a full-time paraplanner in-house.

My goal for Paraplanner.com.au is to help educate as many advisers as possible as to benefits of outsourcing their Paraplanning which will in turn increase their profits and help them scale their own financial planning practices.

If you are a financial adviser and are interested in outsourcing your Paraplanning needs, please contact me on 0408 086 596 or email me at jason@paraplanner.com.au

Holden Volt Review

Fuel ConsumptionWell after 7 years of driving the 2001 Generation 1 Toyota Prius, which was by the end of it’s time a well worn vehicle with over 200,000 klms.  I have finally upgraded to the Holden (Chevy) Volt.

With a new price over $60,000 it has taken me a while to wait until a good second-hand Volt was available at the right price.  Luckily there was a repossessed Volt for sale at Pickles Auctions that I was able to negotiate down to under $30k.  With just 24,829 klms showing on the odometer it still had the smell of a new car.

For those who are unaware of how the Volt works, the Volt is a fully electric vehicle (EV) with a back-up 1.4l petrol engine which enables you to keep the batteries adequetly charged whilst driving the vehicle longer distances.   Basically the drive train is fully Electric with the Petrol engine solely working as a generator for when you want to ‘Hold’ your battery power reserves or when you have run out of battery power.

The T-Shaped battery pack stored in the floor of the vehicle has a maximum range of approximately 65klms and depending on your driving style and the accessories (e.g. air-conditioning, electric heated seats) you are using can often be lower than this.

My Experience with the Range of the Battery Pack

Typically in a normal weekday I will drive to work which is 21klmIMG_5049 from home and then once I am in the city I park at the King George Square carpark, this is the only parking in Brisbane city that offers a Free Charge and half-price parking for Electric / Hybrid vehicles.  By having this option available to me, within a few hours of parking the Volt is fully charged and ready to go again.  A full charge will then typically give me enough distance to drive to client appointments and return home without having to use any Petrol.  Depending on the range then left in the battery pack I can then decide if I need to plug the car in again that night to get my 21klm range I need to return to the city the following day.

When you start thinking in terms of location based charging you then have the ability to become a bit more savvy about how and when you use your electricity at home.  If you are able to plug the vehicle into a charging station whilst parked in a carpark or at work you may find that have very little need to actually use any of your home electricity to keep your vehicle on the road.  So when you think about it you are not paying for petrol and not paying for electricity, your driving is completely FREE!!!

My Experience with the Power of the Vehicle

In terms of on road performance, GM have conveniently provide you with a ‘Sport’ mode, and when you decide to use this little bit of extra electricity you can immediately feel it in the response of the vehicle.  If you simply keep your foot depressed at the same location and hit the Sport mode you automatically feel the difference and yes this will give you the power you need to give most other vehicles a run for their money.  Electric Vehicles have the benefit of ‘instant’ torque when compared to a petrol engines and this enables the Volt to have enough play power to provide a bit of fun, whilst also enjoying the benefit of pollution free driving.

My Overall Experience Driving the Vehicle

So how does the Volt compare to other vehicles I have owned / driven?  Well owning the Volt brings my total vehicles owned count to nearly 30, and I have to admit it tops the list, it provides adequate fun and power, cost savings, style and elegance and even the occasional head turn from onlookers.  Unfortunately Holden have decided not to import any more Volt’s, which is a shame because these vehicles are an amazing and affordable (when second-hand) option for the everyday driver and when you throw into the mix that you can nearly drive for Free all day everyday, provides a new way of thinking when it comes to everyday driving.

Whats Next?

Phev ASpireWell both our vehicles needed upgrading so we also purchased an Mitsubishi Outlander Aspire PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle).  You can read my review of the Outlander PHEV here – http://jasonpenna.com/hybrid-suv-4wd-outlander-review/