Many benefits come with owning a fully electric car in today’s age. Two of the biggest concerns affecting consumers are the elevating costs of gas and the damage that carbon emissions are inflicting on the planet. Electric cars also have lower running costs, improved reliability, and more modern safety and convenience features. However, some concerning flaws in modern EV ownership consequently make plug-in hybrid car ownership a more appealing proposition.
PHEVs embody the best of EV and ICE technology, leading to a more versatile and practical ownership experience. While these cars have their flaws and are not as abundantly available as EV models in the USA, a strong case exists for why you should consider these over a conventional electric car.
Information in this article is sourced from credible sites like Fueleconomy.gov, Department of Energy, IRS, and Car and Driver.
1 Better Range Abilities
Some modern electric cars competing in the higher segments boast battery range figures north of 300 miles, which more than covers general urban commutes. Entry-level and mid-range EVs cover significantly less than this. Couple this with the fact that charging times remain lengthy, even with the innovation of direct current Level Three fast charging, and EVs appear impractical compared to PHEVs.
Hybrid cars usually feature very efficient internal combustion engines with large gas tanks that can carry vehicles significantly farther than EVs. Hybrid battery packs can also charge via the ICE, regenerative braking, or a conventional plug–in method. Only a handful of PHEVs benefit from Level Three fast charging, but the packs are typically so small, that this won’t be necessary.
2 Less Reliance On Charging Infrastructure
A lack of charging infrastructure is a huge issue for EV ownership across the world, despite manufacturers fast-tracking a comprehensive roll-out. A lot of established brands are financially backing Tesla’s Supercharger infrastructure alongside innovating new charging facilities along crucial routes, however, there are still cases of long waiting times at existing stations. This adds frustration to daily EV ownership, particularly for those subjected to longer commutes.
PHEVs eliminate these range anxiety-inducing issues, thanks to the support provided by the combustion engine. The ICE can effectively charge the battery when it is drained or act as the primary drivetrain, depending on what the user prefers. PHEVs can use roadside chargers, but will need much less time, if they are equipped with Level Three direct current abilities, further reducing their reliance on the current infrastructure.
3 A Good Balance Of Efficiency And Emotion
Gear heads believe that the rise of electric mobility means the death of a car’s soul, but modern PHEVs prove that this may not have to be the case. What started with the likes of the BMW i8 has evolved into stellar PHEVs that can double up as fuel-efficient carries. Such is the case with the Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray, Lexus LC500h, and more.
There are plenty of lower-end PHEV models to be enjoyed behind the wheel, such as the Toyota Prius Prime, which has received raved reviews for its dynamic and driver-engaging handling characteristics and punchy powertrain. Modern electric cars deliver impressive performance on paper, but the lack of an internal combustion engine removes some excitement when engaging in a spirited drive.
4 Lower Upfront Costs
PHEVs are usually significantly cheaper than their fully electric counterparts because battery electric technology is still relatively more expensive than ICEs. BEVs require very expensive and resource-heavy battery packs, resulting in huge manufacturing costs that the end consumer has to cover. Shipping also proves to be a challenging area for the electric car world due to their heavier weights and complex battery chemistries that can cause damage while on the carrier. All of these complexities add to the product’s overall cost.
Manufacturers also tend to equip their electric cars more generously with comfort, convenience, and entertainment features to translate to a more premium product. Hybrid cars are still relatively more expensive than base ICE products, but the gap is significantly smaller.
5 Attractive Tax Incentives
PHEVs are eligible for a variety of federal and state tax incentives that aim to promote the adoption of cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles, just like fully electric cars. These tax incentives significantly lower the effective cost of acquiring a PHEV, making them a more attractive option for potential buyers who want to lower their carbon footprint at a less intimidating price.
Tax credits are also often available to PHEV buyers, with the amount of the credit usually dependent on the battery capacity of the vehicle, so the savings are not as exorbitant as those of fully electric cars. These federal tax credits can offset a portion of the upfront cost of the PHEV by reducing the tax liability of the buyer, further enhancing their cost-competitiveness. When compared to the upfront cost of an EV, the savings can be more preferable.
6 Better Resale Value
Fully electric cars suffer from massive depreciation trends, with the exception of Tesla, for several reasons relating to a lack of consumer confidence, demand, and appeal. PHEVs do struggle with bad depreciation, but it is not as severe as seen on the current EV offerings. With the rise of fuel costs, depreciation levels for EVs are no longer as severe. The improved understanding and development of these gasoline-electric drivetrains also contribute to better value retention.
The drastic depreciation levels EVs suffer are bound to level out once the technology becomes more sustainable, practical, and understood. But for the time being, it is too much of a financial risk to consider short-term EV ownership, as some examples are expected to lose half their value in just three years.
7 Reduced Electric Load
Plug-in hybrid cars reduce the load on the electric grid compared to conventional EVs, especially during peak demand periods. With careful planning and usage, owners can maximize how little reliance they place on the grid by leveraging the gasoline engine with the battery. Mornings and evenings are usually considered peak hours for electric demand, because this is when people are either preparing for their day or returning home. The electric grid experiences a surge in load due to the use of multiple appliances.
If many EVs are plugged in for charging during these times, they add a hefty strain on the electric grid, potentially leading to higher electricity rates, or in extreme cases, power outages. PHEVs have the flexibility to switch between electric and gasoline power, meaning users can choose to fuel their vehicles with gasoline during peak electric demand times. Like EVs, hybrids can charge during off-peak hours when electricity demand is lower, but the benefit is the smaller battery will replenish in a significantly faster time.
8 Superior Overall Performance Abilities
Modern electric performance cars have made a mark in the automotive sector for their exceptional acceleration abilities. The instantaneous torque delivery from electric motors allows these vehicles to achieve acceleration times that rival or surpass those of many high-performance gasoline-powered vehicles. However, electric cars might fall short due to limitations like battery overheating or energy depletion when it comes to maintaining high speeds over extended periods or achieving high top speeds.
PHEVs bring forth a blend of both electric and internal combustion engine propulsion systems, offering a balanced performance profile that caters to a wider range of driving conditions and requirements. PHEVs leverage the strengths of both powertrains to deliver superior overall performance abilities, including better handling characteristics and adaptive performance.
A great example of this is seen in the World Endurance Championship, where the likes of Toyota, Ferrari, Porsche, Peugeot, and more prove just how fast hybrid cars can be. Formula One cars also leverage both powertrains, resulting in amazing performance and efficiency that filters down into road cars.
9 Arguably Less Impactful On The Environment
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles offer a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional gasoline vehicles due to their ability to operate on electric power for short distances. They fall short in reducing an overall environmental impact when compared to electric cars. A big reason for this is the emissions produced by the gasoline engine.
However, there is more than meets the eye, when considering the entire production cycle of an electric car. Battery electric vehicles demand massively on the planet because of how much the packs rely on natural resources.
Crucial elements such as cobalt, nickel, and other precious metals must be mined out of the ground, resulting in noteworthy geological fallout. There are also some concerns regarding how ethically these materials are sourced. PHEVs suffer from the same problems, but because they have smaller batteries, the impact is significantly less. Manufacturers hope that solid-state battery technology will resolve these issues, but this technology is still years away.
10 PHEVs Can Be Easier To Drive
Transitioning from an ICE to an electric car is one of the lesser issues to worry about, but it is still a concern to be aware of. Many new owners may find the lack of sound, immediate throttle response, regenerative braking, and other characteristics associated with an electric car alarming. PHEV ownership is highly recommended for those who want to transition from an ICE to an EV, as it acts as the perfect bridge between the two means of propulsion.
Simply put, a PHEV keeps traditional drivers grounded by retaining a usable gasoline engine. Modern PHEVs don’t rely on their engines as much as they did just a few years ago, thanks to big advancements in battery and electric motor technology.
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