Do Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles Have a Future?

The automotive industry is flooded with variations of electric vehicles: plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), regular hybrids, and pure electric vehicles. At this point, regular hybrids seem defunct, but do PHEVs still serve a purpose? The answer, I think, is yes.

PHEVs Have a Place

PHEVs bridge the gap for motorists who want to drive a pure EV or just be kinder to the environment. They provide peace of mind for motorists who think “what if” when contemplating buying an EV:

  • What if I can’t find a charging station and run out of battery?
  • What if I need to make an extra long trip some day?

These reservations are all too common and, for some people, they’re completely justified. Although the average U.S. motorist drives 29.2 miles per day, there are instances when we will massively exceed this mileage.

Whether you’re visiting relatives or driving to college a state over, you can easily exceed 10 times the 29.2-mile average. This is where PHEVs come in.

A Stepping Stone

As mentioned above, many people do still make 300-mile plus trips, although probably not that frequently. A PHEV allows these people to live a gas free lifestyle most of the time but, should they need to travel further, they can.

PHEVs will remain a stepping stone for many motorists until:

  • Pure EVs, with around a 300-mile range, have a price parity with ICE vehicles.
  • Infrastructure for plug-in vehicles improves.

Long Term Future

PHEVs provide a much-needed option for drivers who want to embrace the EV lifestyle. But, much like the original hybrids served their purpose in the early naughties and are now defunct, so too will PHEVs.

A number of EVs launching over the next few years have ranges of 310 miles. Although the initial purchase of an EV will still be more than an ICE vehicle, the cost of ownership is expected to be on a price parity as early as next year. Finally, with initiatives to install charging stations at all gas stations, fears over infrastructure may soon be a thing of the past.

Although PHEVs definitely do serve a purpose right now, changes in the EV industry over the next few years may make them defunct.

It’s not the case that PHEVs are better or worse than EVs, they just may suit some people better. What do you think, have PHEVs peaked in terms of popularity and usefulness, or is their peak yet to come? Let us know in the comments section below.

By Robert Bacon
Updated: July 24, 2017