Plug-in hybrids can drive us to our fully electric future

2022-09-24 10:51:53 By : Mr. Daniel Tian

Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) are a good bridge car for drivers reluctant to go fully electric — but they also make a lot of sense for the broader industry, given problems like a lack of charging infrastructure and battery scarcity.

Why it matters: Lawmakers' efforts to get Americans to replace their gas-powered cars with EVs are about to run into two stubborn realities: Most consumers aren't ready to go electric, nor is the battery supply chain prepared to meet a surge in demand.

Driving the news: The Inflation Reduction Act, which President Biden signed into law earlier this month, purported to expand EV tax credits (though supply chain requirements mean fewer cars now qualify).

Yes, but: Expanding EVs' market share will be challenging if the industry can't produce enough batteries.

Plug-ins, which run on electric power for around 20-40 miles before switching to a gas engine, use much smaller batteries than full EVs.

The catch: Most PHEV owners don't plug in their cars, so they end up using gas anyway and missing the benefits of the partially electric life.

Of note: Many forecasters, including Boston Consulting Group, predict EVs will take off in the coming years, while PHEVs will stay flat or fade away.

The other side: Convincing people that plug-in hybrids are the best solution right now is "not the simplest argument to make," concedes Toyota's chief scientist Gill Pratt — especially when the government is pushing fully electric cars.

Go deeper: "In an era of battery scarcity, we could have two 150-mile EVs for the battery capacity in every 300-mile EV," writes automotive journalist Edward Niedermeyer in a New York Times column.

The bottom line: If you want to make an immediate impact on carbon emissions, plug-in hybrids aren't a bad choice.