Should Plug-In Hybrids be the Immediate Focus and Electric Vehicles for the Future

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 40

toyota_prius_plug-in_hybrid_3

Chevrolet Volt Leads The EREV Revolution...Lumped in With Plug-In Hybrids for the Sake of This Post

Chevrolet Volt Leads The EREV Revolution…Lumped in With Plug-In Hybrids for the Sake of This Post

John O’Dell, editor at Edmunds, told the New York Times this:

“Conventional hybrids are mainstream now.  You can envision almost anyone buying one.”

O’Dell’s comment was in the context of explaining the rising sales of conventional hybrid vehicles, but the Times articles is mostly focused on why hybrids are here and now and pure electric vehicles are for the future.

Now, we’re not saying we agree completely with the post by the New York Times, but there’s some logic we see as applicable in the plug-in hybrid versus pure electric vehicle decision.

For most Americans, the logical next step from a conventional hybrid is into a plug-in hybrid.  It’s a baby step, not a giant leap.  In this way, it’s easy to see a significant percentage of people choosing plug-in hybrids to replace their current conventional hybrid.  Provided that the price is right, this seems to be the direction that say current Prius owners will take when it time for a replacement vehicle.

Then it’s only one more baby step to that pure electric vehicle.  Asking or expecting the general public to take a giant leap is unreasonable, but baby step by baby step the BEV becomes the vehicle of choice.

This is mostly just our opinion of how we think the transition to pure electric will occur and we’re not talking about the 1% or 2% of buyers that have already made the move.  We’re suggesting that when plug-ins become mainstream (say 10%), the plug-in hybrid will make up the vast majority of that figure in the US.  Further on down the line, the pure electric will take over.  It’ll happen…but it’ll be in baby steps.

Source: New York Times

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40 responses to "Should Plug-In Hybrids be the Immediate Focus and Electric Vehicles for the Future"

  1. evnow says:

    Plugin Hybrids will sell in large numbers only when they are priced just a tad over hybrids (or about the same price). Currently they are over priced by a lot (Volt is double the price of a Cruze) and thus they will not go mainstream before BEVs do.

    1. kdawg says:

      I think we are going to have to jump “the chasm” before plug-in anything becomes “mainstream”. I don’t think we are their yet. Plug-ins are still too weird for most, even ignoring any costs differences. Maybe in another 5-10 years when the more open-minded next-gen is buying new cars, and costs have come down.

      http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac211/kdawg2011/chasm_zpsaee6fafe.jpg

      1. Spec says:

        I busted out laughing at the ‘Fox News’.

    2. Curtis says:

      the volt you see is in the wrong segment. a compact car rarely has economy problems so trying to squeeze extra mpg out is going to be harder than say in an suv

    3. Pluged says:

      Get lease prices from dealers to compare the Volt and the Prius, to see if you want to revise that comment. I did, and was surprised to see they were a few bucks of each other. Considering 90% of my mileage could be EV with the Volt, the Volt looks like it will be cheaper to own for me than a Prius.

      Of course, w/out that $7500 credit the story would be different.

      I know, some people are dead set against leasing, but ‘owning’ a depreciating asset (particularly when we expect battery capacity to increase, price to decrease) is overrated.

      I would agree that the majority of people still believe the type of comparisons Fox News and others did to make the Volt look like it would not pay off at any price. Typically, they take the MSRP and figure 100% depreciation by not considering residual. Next, they misrepresent the Volt’s fuel economy in some way or another. It is too bad GM didn’t market it well enough to fix that perception. In terms of total ownership cost, plug ins can pan out quite nicely. They just need to be marketed better. Maybe Ford and BMW can improve on the marketing.

  2. Jeff D says:

    This may be the general trend, but to me what is important is having enough vehicles available so that a person can take what ever step fits there needs, not the step dictated by the manufacturer and the dealer.

  3. kdawg says:

    Hmm not sure how 2 baby steps equals a giant leap. I think going from anything to a plug-in is more than just a baby step, because you are introducing a whole new method of fueling a car. People are not used to plugging their cars in, and there’s a weirdness factor. Going from a plug-in hybrid to a pure BEV, to me is also more than a baby step, because it will take more planning than a traditional car with an ICE.

    I think the only “baby step” in this whole scenario is going from an ICE car to a hybrid because the process is concealed from the user. They drive & fuel the car exactly the same in both cases.

  4. David Murray says:

    I agree with EVNOW that the price is currently too high. However, with falling battery prices I can see where eventually there shouldn’t be much price difference between building a regular hybrid and a plug-in hybrid with 4Kwh of battery pack good for 12 miles or so of range. At that point it sort of becomes a no brainer. And as people get used to driving on EV mode, they’ll demand more and more EV driving from their next car.

  5. Spec says:

    No . . . offer both. BEVs work better for some people and PHEVs work better for other people.

    BEVs don’t waste money & weight on an ICE engine and thus can be cheaper. For people that don’t mind the range issue, they work great.

    PHEVs cost more but can keep driving after the battery is depleted and many people regularly drive long distances.

    1. Aaron says:

      Agreed. Since I live in a large, dense city, I have little need for the added complexity (and maintenance) that a hybrid brings over a BEV. I currently drive a BEV and don’t expect to drive anything but a BEV for the rest of my life.

  6. Bloggin says:

    That’s true. The progression is Hybrid to Plug-in Hybrid for consumers with one vehicle in the household. Offering the benefits of an EV, and at the same time a 300 to 600 mile range hybrid. The full EV will continue to mostly be an additional vehicle to the home fleet that already has an ICE, Hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicle for sometime to come.

    But the price of the plug-in hybrids are coming down when you look at the lease pricing that includes current incentives.

    C-Max Hybrid lease is $269/mo. Add the down payment variance and the C-Max Energi is $306/mo. Just $37/mo more a month to have a 21 mile EV + Hybrid.

    Fusion Hybrid lease is $299/mo. Add the down payment variance and the Fusion Energi is $374/mo. Just $75 more a month to have a 21 mile EV + Hybrid.

    And with a daily commute less than 10 miles or 20 miles with workplace charging, the fuel savings would be close to 160 monthly. Which is a big win for the consumer.

    And if a full EV works as their commuter car, the savings are even greater. So either way, once you plug-in, the real savings start to add up quickly.

    1. Thomas J. Thias says:

      Wow, Stunned to see the Ford Fusion Energy at $30.00 more a month then the Chevy Volt EREV!
      ChevyVolt.com

      Now at almost 20,000 miles driven since March of 2012, a robust run at that I have driven all but 500 miles or so electric. I have used only 21 gallins of gas with bout a buck a day electric!

      This includes 2 recent cross state 200 mile runs. Figure I’ve saved $200.00 each month since new by NOT buying gas compared to my former car, a 2006 Grand Prix.

      Source- VoltStats My Stats Page-

      http://www.voltstats.net/Stats/Details/1068

      Best-

      Thomas J. Thias

      Sundance Chevrolet Inc.

      517-622-6081

      Twitter- @AmazingChevVolt

      ps- C-Max Charge Port is on left front fender-

      1. Aaron says:

        Too bad the Volt is NOT AN EREV! And you’re from a dealership? Stop misrepresenting your car! It is a plug-in hybrid. Remember the three clutches? If not, look it up and stop misrepresenting your vehicle.

        1. Jeff N says:

          So, you are saying that an all-battery car (no gas engine) wouldn’t be an EV if it had 2 electric motors and used a clutch to connect the second motor at higher speeds for increased efficiency (by lowering the RPM of the motors)? That’s all the Volt does with it’s clutches until the charged battery runs empty. What if an all-battery car had a two-speed transmission with a clutch for shifting gears? Would that be an EV? The original Tesla Roadster design used a 2-speed transmission.

          I think we can all agree that those all-battery cars would be EVs regardless of clutches or geared transmissions (what else would they be?). Most custom EV conversions of conventional cars still use their original manual transmissions.

          Do you still think the Volt isn’t an EREV? If so, please explain why.

        2. ClarksonCote says:

          Really Aaron? What makes it not an EREV? Please elaborate.

          The Volt goes 38 miles on electricity whether you’re flooring the accelerator or not, whether you’re going 5mph or 100mph. Then, a gas engine kicks in to let you go as far as you need.

          Sure sounds like an Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV) to me. And if it’s the one mode that directly couples the engine’s generator motor to the wheels under some circumstances for a 15% boost in efficiency that you’re concerned with, well that just seems a bit ludicrous don’t you think? You’d call it an EREV at the expense of it burning more gas? That seems silly.

    2. Pluged says:

      I like the C-Max energi a lot, however my quotes on base models for 36 month leases, 12k/year miles, nothing down, came in between 380-400. I got a few quotes.

      Please let me know who well lease me one (not the regular hybrid, the energi) for that price.

      Volt quotes coming in just under $300 for me. Nothing down, 12k miles per year, for 36 or 39 months.

      I agree with your overall point though I think. A lot of people look at the high MSRP and not how it all works out after the credits, and being able to do the overwhelming majority of their driving w/out oil. Yet, still be able to drive a longer trip.

    3. Fred says:

      And for $200-250/mo you can get a Leaf instead with 70 mile electric range. Heck you could lease a Leaf and a Cruze for the price you quoted for a Fusion Energi. Or just stick with the Leaf and save that much in gas. Can come out essentially free.

  7. Ocean Railroader says:

    I really think it’s a about range and the type of landscape you live in that plug in cars are fairly popular in my area. I have never seen a pure EV on the road yet but I have seen volts and ford focus plug in hybrids along with a plug in Prius. I think the reasons why they are favorable here is that it’s not uncommon for people to drive 40 to 20 miles one way to a place and back in the same day. Also at the same time there is nowhere to plug in a pure EV but a plug in hybrid would do great in my area do to it’s rural nature and no plug in stations. But the nice thing about the plug in hybrids if it makes the car driver feel good about not running out of battery power then it does it’s part in getting people into a EV even if they rarely use the gas part.

    1. kdawg says:

      “I have never seen a pure EV on the road yet but I have seen volts and ford focus plug in hybrids ”
      ——–

      The Ford Focus plug in is a pure BEV. Did you mean Ford Fusion Energi or Ford Cmax Energi?

      1. Ocean Railroader says:

        It was most likely the Ford Cmax Energi in that it had two gas caps on it. The electric plug at the noise of the car and the gas tank cap at the back of it. It also had tags on it that said plug in.

        1. Aaron says:

          My car has two “gas caps” on it as well. The passenger’s side is L1/L2 charging, the driver’s side is L3 charging.

    2. Jesse Gurr says:

      I have seen a couple focus electrics, couple leafs, one c-max energi, and numerous volts. Of course i live in SoCal. But they are getting more common. Every time i am stuck in traffic i always wish i was driving a hybrid of some kind while envying the people that do. :/

    3. Spec says:

      “it’s not uncommon for people to drive 40 to 20 miles one way to a place and back in the same day.”

      Sounds like a perfect job for a BEV to me. Where do you plug in? . . . at home. That is where most EV drivers charge up. Pretty simple and very inexpensive to fuel.

  8. benji888578 says:

    baby steps? …we’ve been doing that for decades. I don’t see any reason for carmakers to keep designing new gas cars, they should be just skipping all the complication of PHEV/HEV and just jump to BEV, so much less complicated. Tesla did this with the Roadster. It’s just a bit bigger than a Lotus car (same designer), but made for electric, and does 200 miles…so WTF is all this B.S.? If Tesla can, so can the others. The biggest problem is that, back in the 1990s GM had the chance to lead in all-electrics, but, they effed it all up, for them and the rest of the industry. And they still try to slow it down. The ability of the Chevy Spark EV proves they are holding back. Edmunds tested the BMW Active e at 114 mile range…nothing like the i3. I just watched a vid from 2009, Jay Leno driving the Mini e, 120-150 mile range, now there’s a car that people would buy! What I am getting at is that I think we need to quit letting the carmakers determine what cars we get, we tell them what we want, and they make that. …eh, ef ’em all…I’m going to turn my Acura RSX into a BEV and give ’em all the finger (except Tesla and Nissan).

    1. solarpowered says:

      Everyone I know with a Tesla and Leaf owns another non EV car. Sure, there maybe a few out there that don’t. Then again, I didn’t even own a car when I was just out of school and an BEV polutes way more than my bike I got around on. So, needs change for most people and the typical BEV buyer needs another car that burns gas or diesel.

      Both EV’s and PHEV’s have a purpose at this point. That will be the case until the charging network doesn’t suck, that is, it is not slow and it is not sparse outside of metro areas.

    2. Bonaire says:

      Problem was non-tesla companies like gm wanted to make the car affordably. Teala proves that people will pay more dor novelty. if gm sold the model s for the same prices, they would sell half the number because they are gm. People trust new and novel things rather than long term companies. I still dont believe tesla will be in business in 5-7 years. They barely got through 2012.

    3. David Stone says:

      “we need to quit letting the carmakers determine what cars we get, we tell them what we want, and they make that.”

      This is already the case.
      The only reason carmakers make the cars they make is because people keep buying them; a small part is of course goverment intervention on pollution.

      The only reason any or them make evs is for the few that want them.
      Otherwise they wouldn’t…

  9. Gadge says:

    It is currently a slow EVolution to the ‘plug-in’ hybrid or 100% electric, but it be a quantum leap when the next generation of battery (e.g. metal/air etc.) hits production. By the end of this decade, battery density will allow of EV ranges between 500-1000 miles/charge…at that point it will be ‘game over’ for the ICE!

    1. Bonaire says:

      $100 bet that you are wrong on the 500-1000 bev range… Double of today’s density is possible but it must be non volatile chemistries. I could live with 200 mile bevs and a backup range car. Most people could. Who drives 500 miles a day other than a taxi driver or long haul trucker? Bev battery densities are different than hard drive densities.

      1. Bonaire says:

        Or, the minute densities go up, the more cell kilograms will be removed for weight savings and cost reduction. Fewer denser cells as a standard along with perhaps add on packs for longer distance options.

    2. Dan Hue says:

      I like the idea of large EV battery packs, because it will be very useful in the renewable energy scenario that is slowly shaping up, where storage will be key. But 500 miles range, let alone 1000 is overkill. (1000 miles at 4 miles per kWh, that would be 250kWh. A quarter of a MWh right under your seat! Wow.) 200 miles is a good compromise for a pure BEV, IMO.

      1. Bonaire says:

        A 10 gallon gas tank has enough BTUs in it for 330 kWh.

        1. David Stone says:

          well stated.

          Most people like to remember how much energy is in the tank when speaking of range and conveniently forget when speaking of safety.

          …despite common tales of car explosions!

  10. Fred says:

    Plugin hybrids are very different from hybrids. They are at a disadvantage to BEVs. A plugin requires two drive trains making them most inefficient for cost, space. A BEV only has one drive train. A plupgin hybrid muddles the message. What is its purpose? If its just to enhance fuel efficiency, a regular hybrid can do better with much lower cost and convenience.

    Sales of BEVs are exceeding those of plugin hybrids. I think the market is speaking. A plugin hybrid will never be less expensive than a BEV with anywhere comparable electric range. As battery prices drop and capacity increases, BEVs will continue to be the natural choice.

    Plugin hybrids are a solution without a problem. BEVs are adequate now and will get more appealing over time while plugin hybrids will lose any appeal.

    1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      No. BEVs have significant issues related to range and cost. Almost every week we drive beyond the range of a Leaf/Focus EV/Spark EV/Smart EV/Fit EV/i3 EV/iMiEV.

      Until batteries are a lot cheaper, such that long-range BEVs are extremely affordable and charging solutions become faster (yes, that include the Supercharger – imagine if every car were a Tesla) BEVs are not _the_ solution.

      But if batteries were a lot cheaper, what would the incremental cost of a plug-in hybrid be over a hybrid? The answer is: not very much. And if it’s not very much, given the lower cost of electricity, better driving experience and the convenience of a home-charged PHEV who’s going to buy a hybrid rather than a PHEV?

      Either PEVs will fail or PHEV will be anything from a significant chunk to a huge chunk of the market. It’s the pure ICEV that’ll shrink.

  11. Anderlan says:

    As a free market capitalist, price the hell out of carbon and let the market decide how best and at what speed to replace it (just keep ratcheting up the price).

    1. Anderlan says:

      We are artificially, yep, artificially, skewing the equation that markets and consumers have to solve by not pricing carbon use (and de-pricing income and work an equal amount).

      1. David Stone says:

        totally right.
        Except, people are not big on accepting responsibility for their actions and hate being held accountable for what they do.

  12. Dave K. says:

    I think the “unspoken truth” here is consumer inertia, it’s hard to get people to give up anything, like 5 minute refueling. So for most people it will be psycologically easier to move to a PHEV than an EV, you can also make a pretty good argument that it makes better use of the batteries to build 2 or 3 times as many PHEVs. Of course the EV really makes more sense in the long run for most applications, I bought a Leaf.
    But there is also a marketing/OEM factor, they really don’t want to sell you too good of a car because they want to sell you another one in 3-5 years! Also the low maintenance of pure BEVs terrifies them.

  13. Priusmaniac says:

    Actually, in the present time, I think BMW has it right with its i3 and 100 miles EV range with a Rex for further distances. That is a vehicle type that could spread fast today in the global market.
    But it needs to be copied by more popular makers like ford, Toyota and GM so that the luxury side of it gets washed away and the essential system remains in place. Actually if it wasn’t for the lasting effect of Ferdinand Peach anti EV position, the fantastic Audi A1 e-tron system would already be on the market. Not only in the A1 but in the entire VW group line just like they once did with the turbo diesel.
    We really need a vision from a major OEM for a Rex equipped EV with 100 miles, preferably a Rex based on a Wankel or better a FPDG (Free Piston Direct Generator).
    Really available in a showroom for an acceptable price (± 30000$) it could become the new Camry of the 21 th century.
    But unfortunately it is hard to get an OEM doing it against its traditional line of vehicles and it is even harder to get EV purist accepting the not 100% tag and incorporate even a shoebox size generator.