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Choosing a low emission family car


Buying a family car can be a difficult and daunting task; from practical considerations such as space and safety to kerb appeal and driving dynamics.

As we become more conscious about the impact our buying choices have on the environment, sales of low and zero-emission cars are on the increase and there are a host of options to suit any budget.

What is a low emission car?

Low emission cars produce fewer emissions than your average car on the road. In Ireland, low emission cars are those with CO2 exhaust emissions of 50 g/km or less.

What are my options?

The best car choice for your family depends on a number of factors but the key ones will be your budget and the sort of driving you will be doing. There are two main choices, a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) or A Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). A BEV or as it is more commonly known an EV, runs exclusively on electricity and never uses petrol or diesel. Powering an EV is an electric motor and a battery pack, the purpose of the battery pack is to store the electricity so to charge them they must be plugged in. A Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) on the other hand, has a much larger battery and electric motor than regular hybrids so can be driven on electric power for a much longer period. In fact, you can do on average about 50kms on electric power so depending on your daily requirements you could do your entire commute or school run without using any fuel. For those longer motorway trips and family weekends away you have the reassurance of the fuel mode. As the name suggests, you must plug them in to charge the battery but they only take a couple of hours to fully charge.


Should I go all-electric?

Electric cars are a viable alternative to petrol or diesel as a family car but while there is a good choice that will fit your everyday needs price and range remain the biggest concerns among would be EV buyers.

One of Ireland's most affordable all-electric cars the Peugeot e-208 would make an ideal small family car. Priced from €28,730 it comes with a real-world range of 340 km.

This is a higher price than you will pay for a petrol version but you need to factor in the total cost of ownership, if charging at home on the ESB night rate you will fully charge the car for around €5, consider how much a 340 km journey would cost you in fuel? Electric cars also benefit from a low rate of €120 Annual Motor Tax and up to 75% discount on Toll Roads.

Charging an electric car at home is the best option so if you are thinking of buying an EV you need to be able to install a wall box therefore a house with access to a driveway is the simplest to set up. On average home, chargers cost in the region of €1,000 but there is an SEAI grant of €600 towards the installation. Once fitted Peugeot reckon the e-208 will fully charge in around seven hours on a 7kW home charger. If availing of the public charging network, there are fast chargers and you can expect an 80% charge in about 30 minutes. The ESB is also rolling out high-performance hubs where it's possible to add 100km of range in just 6 minutes.

When it comes to range, you need to be realistic about how much you drive, most people do on average of around 300 km a week so the range on the e-208 is more than sufficient for most families weekly needs.


Outside it is stylish while inside the 3D digital instrument i-Cockpit is simple to use. Interior space is good with plenty of room throughout and thanks to the batteries being housed under the floor boot space is the same as in all other versions of the e-208. Stylish, lively and green, the e-208 will appeal to the young and the young at heart.

As our kids grow, boot space, legroom and extra storage becomes even more important so if you need a little bit more room the e-2008 is one of Ireland's most popular all-electric small SUVs. Offering more space than a regular hatchback but still with those compact dimensions that make it simple to manoeuvre and park the e-2008 is a really practical family car. With a starting price of €33,356 it will travel 310 km on a single charge.

On the road, it is silent and beautifully smooth. If you haven't driven an electric car before you will be struck by just how noiseless it actually is. It is also very responsive and like all EVs, there is instant torque so once you press the accelerator the car delivers full power, very useful when overtaking on the motorway.

Choosing a PHEV

If taking the plunge to an all-electric car seems like too much of a stretch but you want something with low emissions, then a plug-in hybrid may be the best option for you particularly if you have a short commute but do the odd long-distance journey.

Peugeot's 3008 plug-in hybrid comes with a 1.6 petrol engine and a 13.2 kWh electric battery. The car has an all-electric range of between 50 - 60km and promises a fuel-sipping 1.4 litres per 100 km on a mix of urban and motorways. On the road the car switches effortlessly between both systems, automatically selecting the electric mode at low speed and the petrol engine at high speeds, all of this without any input from the driver. You charge the Plug-in hybrid exactly as you would a fully electric car but due to how much smaller the battery is charging times are considerably less.


Inside, the 3008 is a much larger car than the other electric cars in the Peugeot range so would be a good option for a bigger family.

If your typical commute falls within the electric range offered by a plug-in hybrid you could find yourself rarely making trips to a fuelling station. The 3008 is a smart, practical and comfortable choice and the PHEV range is priced from €42,200 making it a compelling option for many families who aren't ready just yet to opt for a fully electric car.

When it comes to choosing a low emission family car consider carefully what you need from a car, how you use it, your lifestyle and most importantly the type of journeys you regularly make. Before you decide, take the car for a decent test drive, and remember switching to a car that comes with a plug may seem daunting but once you have, you will wonder why it took you so long, Charging is very simple to get grips with, both at home and using the public charging network, so for those long journeys all that is required is a little forward planning.

For more information on Peugeot's Low emission range check out Peugeot.ie and for a look at the 3008 in more detail here.