Skip to main content

Plug-In Hybrids Favored By Potential Electric Car Buyers

It’s not too surprising to find that plug-in hybrids, PHEV should outsell pure electric cars in the near future. Now backed by fresh studies, this should influence how carmakers respond to this new demand.


Plug-in Hybrids, The Intelligent In Between. Yes, they are technically challenging, they come in all shapes and form, and they can cost a lot to develop, they also answer a daunting question, how far? Plug-in hybrids are a formidable force for the automobile industry and are the perfect answer to the dilemma of wanting an electric car but still wanting a back up energy source on-board. But are they enough to jolt a wait and see crowd of potential car buyers?

Plug-In Hybrids, Best Of All Worlds. Plug-in hybrids offer a lot of benefits, if done intelligently. Mild plug-in hybrids might be cheaper to make and offer very little flexibility. A Prius is optimized to function the way it does with very little driver choice. Intelligent PHEVs popping up, such as Ford’s amazing C-MAX Energi offer choice and flexibility. In the Energi’s case, a driver can choose from gasoline only, to electricity and dual mode, with amazing gas saving and fastest electric speed available.

Pike Research’s John Gartner finds in another study that plug-in hybrids will outsell battery electrics in the U.S., at least for the first six to seven years, which seems to make sense on paper. The study categorizes both plug-in hybrids as with the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, the two upcoming Energi models from Ford, as well as the Chevrolet Volt, technically a plug-in hybrid. The study also finds that pure battery cars will be on par with their hybrid cousins by 2020.

What About EVs? TechNavio's analysts have found that the electric car market in the US will grow at a rate of 43.39% over 2011 and 2015. Interestingly enough, one of the key factors was the increasing number of advanced vehicle technology projects. The report, entitled the “Electric Vehicle Market in the US 2011-2015” covers the Electric Vehicle, EV market in the US and its future growth.

While we can’t always predict the future, plug-in hybrids make sense on many levels. With the illogical disinformation campaign potential electric car buyers have been bombarded with, it’s not too surprising to see many back away from the prospect. While lithium battery technology is still new and therefore currently expensive, Plug-In Hybrids offer the best of both worlds, electricity when needed, gasoline for longer trips. What do you think? How would you use one? What would sway you once way or another?

Plug-in hybrids offer plenty of benefits and give potential electric car buyers a sense of security by carrying a gasoline engine on-board while being able to recharge on the go.


John Goreham    August 8, 2012 - 8:04AM

Seems like a slam dunk to me.
The full electric brings so much baggage, and for normal commutes and daily drives the C-MAX Energi already covers the ranges in full electric. We could analyze why, but the PIH vehicles cost a lot less than full electrics too.

SteveEV (not verified)    August 8, 2012 - 6:05PM

In reply to by John Goreham

On the other hand, it seems to me that a gas engine adds too much baggage to an electric vehicle. The full electric version will prove a lower TCO with its reduced service needs.
I am guessing that the new Ford vehicles will show relative performance much like I have experienced with my 1999 Ranger Electric vs the Escape Hybrid and Explorer 4x4 I also own. The electric has become my primary vehicle for 85% of my driving.

JoeLado (not verified)    August 9, 2012 - 1:56PM

Since batteries are so expensive currently the plug-in hybrid seems to be the best way to get around the problem as long as the car can be driven around 40 miles before switching over. My Volt does just that and I find that I am billing up the gas tank once or twice a year. The 38 mile electric range is fine for me and about 90% of drivers in the United States. However, I find myself looking for charge opportunities all the time since I don't want to use any gasoline. If my Volt had twice the range I would be content with charging it late at night when power demand on the utility is low. I figured out that if I had a Nissan, Leaf I would probably be more relaxed about always trying to find a charger. Range, the amount of miles an EV or plug-in hybrid on the electric charge, has a strong affect on charging behavior. The more range available, the calmer the driver will be. Most of the time trips and daily usage will be well below an EVs range, so pure EV owners can relax about going 40 miles in a day when they have 80 to 100 miles range. If we were to double that, I believe most people's range anxiety would completely disappear. Make the range 300 miles and people wouldn't think about the need to charge unless there was a major power outage that lasted more than a week. With 300 mile range on an EV I could drive 150 miles away and still get back home. At some point in the future EVs will have batteries that will have such ranges and when that happens the plug-in hybrid will probably disappear along with the internal combustion engine vehicle.

Nicolas Zart    August 10, 2012 - 3:24AM

In reply to by JoeLado (not verified)

You're right Joe, using your Volt in electric mode as much as possible is the best way to recoup as much ROI on it. Thankfully, charging stations are popping up here and there, of course mostly in city and urban areas. I think they make a lot of sense in this current situation. Battery energy density will increase enough to allow for 300, and even longer trips. QBEAK's PHEV version allows for 500 miles, it won't be too long before we break the 300 mile barrier with an EV.