So I just upgraded from a 2017 PHEV to a new 2020 ES ADAS model in Australia. I like the noticeable improvement in battery range and some of the other minor tweaks compared to the 2017 ... BUT... I only realised after buying the car that they have removed the electric cabin heater from the base model - it's now only on the higher trim level 'Exceed' in Australia.
It had never even occurred to me to check this as it just seems like an unbelievably retrograde step to save what must be a trifling amount of money for the simple resistive heating element. I had though the only models without an electric heater were the very early base models sold in the the UK in 2014 - I wasn't aware that any models sold in Australia didn't have this, and it baffles me as to why they would do this now.
We had about a 30 minute drive home this evening on a slightly cool summer evening, well within battery range, but because my wife likes to turn the cabin temperature up to 26 degrees the petrol engine fired up immediately and ran pretty much constantly the whole way, even though we arrived home with battery to spare, which was just depressing and seems like an obscene waste of fuel. It's really disappointing, as it seems like our days of zero-fuel journeys are over, at least for the cooler months of the year. I'm guessing the engine will be running for the majority of my wife's use of the car, just for the purpose of warming the cabin to her preferred tropical temperature, whereas a reasonable proportion of our trips would have been battery-only on our 2017 model (even with the load of the electric heater in the winter). So instead of using less fuel due to the improved battery range, as I'd hoped, I'm now thinking we'll end up burning more fuel with this car than with the old one.
Does anyone know whether it's possible to retro-fit the electric heater? I assume all the plumbing is the same, the only thing missing is the actual heating element, in which case it should be straightforward to install?