I can already smell the torches and hear the pitchforks of electric vehicle enthusiasts, with an arsenal of counter-arguments at the ready for every point that was already made on the internet. This isn’t so much about the drawbacks of electric vehicles currently available on the market, it is about the advantages of a type of vehicle commonly overlooked – plug-in hybrids. Plug-in hybrids don’t receive much spotlight in the automotive world, which is a shame, they are getting increasingly better.
If you are a car enthusiast, you know that it is impolite to ask how much someone got their car for. Equally, it is now becoming embarrassing to ask about someone’s gas mileage, because that seemingly innocent utilitarian question is a slippery slope to something political. If you are an electric vehicle die-hard, no gas mileage is ever good enough because its gas. And EVs have grabbed the headlines consistently for a few years now, leaving everyone with the impression that the future is certain to be electric, and that probably true. But the present isn’t. Even for those who desire to go electric, the options are limited compared to ICE vehicles.
The average American commute to work is 16 miles. That’s 32 miles a day. Do you really need a 300-mile electric vehicle to satisfy that need? You can buy a significantly less expensive plug-in hybrid vehicle, and do the average commute on electricity, using gas only on weekend excursions. And that’s the beauty of plug-in hybrids. You get to be properly electric for 90% of your vehicle applications, but still get to have as much flexibility as a regular gas car. EVs still depend on a largely lacking EV charging infrastructure. If you can’t charge your plug-in hybrid mid trip – no problem, let the gas engine do the work. And you don’t have to feel guilty for the engine running. Thanks to the added power of the electric motor, the engine a plug-in hybrid will have will be as much as 50% smaller than a regular gas model with the same power output.
And a plug-in hybrid makes financial sense as well. Statistically, people tend to keep their cars for between 5 to 7 years from new. The saving on fuel that the plug-in hybrid will give if you’re using it as a regular commuter car will offset the cost of buying a regular gas model in about 4-5 years. Additionally, electric vehicles are notorious for losing their value faster than any other. People are not too keen to buy used electric vehicles. Two factors are at play here: 1) new electric vehicles are getting cheaper every year, and 2) they have more range than older versions. So while a 10 year old gas car is not a colossal departure form a gas car today, a 10 year old EV seems archaic compared to EVs today. That’s why plug-ins represent the best of both worlds. Future used car buyers will be keener because they will get the fuel-saving electric component, but they will still have the security of a gas engine to keep them going when the battery is depleted. So next time you’re at a car show or a dealership, ask whether there is a plug-in version of the vehicle you like – the answer is increasingly becoming a “yes”.