Maybe We Shouldn’t Buy EVs… Yet? Are PHEVs and HEVs “Better”?

An may drop your individual consumption to absolutely no, however utilizing the very same limited resources to make complete hybrid or plug-in hybrid lorries might make more ecological sense at the minute. Difficulty obviously is: we don't live in a rational world where all the stakeholders will consider the common good. So …

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24 responses to “Maybe We Shouldn’t Buy EVs… Yet? Are PHEVs and HEVs “Better”?”

  1. Greg P. Avatar
    Greg P.

    Great video! More such comparisons are needed for ICE vs Hybrid vs PHEV vs EV!

  2. future62 Avatar

    I have been saying this for years. I still hope to own an EV and charge it with solar some day, but the lowest hanging fruit for me now is a PHEV for the family and an HEV + motorcycle for me. HEVs are the best use of batteries for emission reduction on a per kWh basis.

    1. USugo Avatar

      the only real moral and logical low hanging fruit is to keep the car you already have for as long as possible, or if you have to, buy the cheapest less polluting used cars, till you will have the opportunity to buy a good EV, used or new.
      Buying new ICE, hybrid cars today is just a waste, of money for you, and resources for the world.

    2. Steve E. Avatar
      Steve E.

      @USugo sounds like I should grab one of those early 90’s Roadmasters! I’ve got 3 kids and need as much space as I can get. At least they’re easier to repair than today’s vehicles.
      That said, I was really impressed with the new Sienna hybrid that we rented for a family trip last year. The last 6hrs home brought in 40.2mpg (I had to double check the math!) thanks to a little stop and go. We had it filled to the gills with all sorts of stuff. But, we just can’t afford a newer car; the Sienna’s are going for around $40k depending on the trim.

  3. Brandon Page Avatar
    Brandon Page

    I fully agree, which is why I bought a new Honda Hybrid. Hopefully, I can go all electric after that car.

  4. Tom K Avatar
    Tom K

    Very rational and measured approach Alex! Whether you energy independence or green house has emission reduction – everyone in hybrid is the more realistic way to get us there – incentive for partial electrification is the better ramp up and leap to full EV adoption since the premium is so high

  5. Vanja Pejovic Avatar
    Vanja Pejovic

    I think this argument makes sense, but if I was to buy a hybrid instead of an electric, I don’t know how to convince 49 other people to also buy a hybrid (instead of fully electric or gas). Partially because of the politics and emotions, people tend to be on one extreme or the other.

    Additional fuel economy regulations would likely receive huge political pushback, which could backfire. Even if we could increase fuel economy regulations, how do you prevent BEV manufacturers from taking up the vast majority of battery supply, when they can sell every car they make, at almost any price?

  6. Patrick Wright Avatar
    Patrick Wright

    Great video! At an individual level, PHEV have nearly the same problems as BEV – they are far too costly and scarce. Most of the available PHEV are equal to or more than 50k in the US, and you wait months or years to get one. And many do not qualify for federal credits, which seems to skew pricing. Desirable hybrids also have long wait times.

  7. Jim Avatar

    Coherent plans are impossible. This makes just as much sense at gunning for 1 BEV and 1 ICE in a 2 car household as often is my argument to get around lithium shortages. The problem is we’re not all invested in coming to a consensus. That makes it literally impossible. You can’t tell everyone to make the choice they want and then hope they make the right choice in a coordinated fashion with others, especially not on a hot button, partisan issue like EVs, electrification, and the environment overall.

  8. Guylr Avatar

    Thank you for the logical look at the current situation. Someday mostly full BEVs will make sense but right now we just need to maximize the reduction of burning fossil fuels.

  9. TheGerm24 Avatar

    This argument only works in a strong command economy. We can’t force people to buy hybrids and we can’t force car companies to only produce hybrids. The logic makes sense, but it requires car manufacturers and car buyers to all cooperate.

  10. Shad Arif Avatar
    Shad Arif

    Really well said on the cold turkey vs harm reduction. Sounds like something my therapist has told me lol

  11. Chris B Avatar
    Chris B

    Interesting argument and one that I agree with. I recently “upgraded” my 2014 BMW i3 w/REX with a 2022 Chevy Bolt. Both vehicles have very similar functionality, and it is not lost on me that the Chevy Bolt’s battery is three times the size of the i3’s so they could theoretically build three times as many vehicles with a REX using the same amount of batteries. Oddly enough, the REX (265 lbs) is lighter than the 22kWh batter pack (450 lbs) that comes in the i3 and much lighter than the 65 kWh battery (947 lbs) that comes in the Bolt while being more useful than a 65 kWh battery alone. One could easily argue that a vehicle with a REX is better suited for trips in West Texas due to the lack of DC fast chargers. I don’t understand why no other manufacturer has made a PHEV with a 60-70 mile range and a REX. In fact, BMW has abandoned the idea. I don’t get it.

    1. James Van Damme Avatar
      James Van Damme

      You might be the market for the Mazda MX-30 with Wankel range extender.

    2. Chris B Avatar
      Chris B

      @James Van Damme Maybe.

  12. TheEquationSlayer Avatar

    It will be interesting to see how Toyota’s fleet emissions compare to other manufacturers over next few years. Toyota will sell a lot of hybrids, while others will sell comparatively small number of EVs. Which will have greatest emissions impact?

  13. Chad Massie Avatar
    Chad Massie

    Your stats and data tell everything. We need to push towards HEV and PHEV more than BEV. I remember the video you did a couple years back showing why Toyota was fighting the straight ev push. You can make 6 PHEV cars instead one fully electric car. Problem is hybrids just aren’t as sexy as a full electric.

  14. Lee Peltz Avatar
    Lee Peltz

    Going PHEV is probably the ‘right’ way to go. I just have had a hard time being interested in them, for my usage it feels like I’m dragging an unnecessary drivetrain along with me. If there was a shorter range EV (like the original Ioniq BEV) I would 100% go for that.

  15. buggaby Avatar

    Good points, and definitely worthwhile considering, especially now for larger vehicles, like minivans, but I think a few really important things were missed in this analysis.

    As you say, new EV purchases are limited by the supply of batteries, but it’s also limited by many other slow factors. The average car is used for 12 years, so people aren’t going to buy right away. EVs need new models, designs, and manufacturing lines, and batteries need mines, new processing pipelines, and new supply chains. All of these take years or decades to dramatically increase, which means we are not in a position to consume all the new batteries on the current demand anyway. According to statista, worldwide battery production is projected to be 2,700 GWh by 2030. That’s pretty close to your 3,000 GWh demand for 2030. I’m not sure if these projections account for the possible improvements in battery energy storage density or new technology. If they don’t, then we could be at higher levels. And if there are good government incentives for research and mining, then there’s no reason to suspect we can’t hit much higher than that 2,700 GWh projection.

    As people switch to BEVs, we are seeing manufacturers also work on improving all sorts of other efficiencies: air drag and tires come to mind, but this could easily be seen to drive the market away from SUVs and large trucks and towards station wagons. Alongside the huge increase in BEV demand one could easily see that there will be a huge increase in charging network demand. A 200 mile range vehicle with many 350kW charging station options would be fine for long distance travel. It might even result in smaller batteries to save money, thereby keeping a fully electric fleet but being more efficient on the manufacturing of batteries. And battery recycling could reduce the demand on the lithium battery market. No doubt new EVs will drive up these pipelines, which might have side benefits to all the consumer electronics as well.

    But if we are going to be imagining an “all together now” future where we can act in a unified way, there are lots of things we can do to reduce the number of cars on the road. Consider that the EU has almost 30% fewer cars per person than the US. If we decided that we wanted more high-speed rail, more pedestrian-centric city construction, etc, we could reduce the number of annual vehicle miles travelled by a lot. I would argue we need to do this regardless of whether or not we are using BEVs or ICEs.

  16. Jim Avatar

    Right on, Alex. Thanks for speaking up for us PHEV owners. Back in the 70’s Briggs & Stratton made a hybrid that got my attention. It was gasoline powered to the rear wheels, and electric powered to the front wheels. Eventually the iconic Prius came along, and for a lot of years it was the best economy car to buy in California. Yes, my brother in law had a diesel Jetta that got 55 mpg, but he lived in Nevada, and obtained that mileage by having a 55 mile one way freeway commute. I owned a Prius. Then a Leaf, and a Smart EV, (when I was commuting). After retirement, the mission of my cars changed, and I bought an Audi A3 eTron, replacing my Audi A4 Avant, and a Fusion Energi to replace my 11 year old Leaf with 46% battery SOH.
    After 2450 miles the Energi shows 60.1 mpg, the Audi is 45.3 over 2 years. On the kWh side, I would have to consult the cars, but basically I can charge both cars in 2 hours at home using my Juicebox level 2 charger the cost is about $1.50 per charge.
    Alex, and other YouTubers always present the cutting edge in automotive technology, so thanks to him for this video presentation. It is what I have been trying to say for the last 2 years. Work incrementally and take small steps to success. In my career, I went 11655 days without a traffic accident. After that I went into management, so I quit counting.
    Thanks again, Alex. Great job on this one.
    And just an FYI,
    I am not a new car buyer because of the prices, always buy one owner certified preowned cars for the best value.

  17. CDNUSER Avatar

    I agree. I love EVs and currently own a full EV after moving from great PHEV (18’ Volt).
    I love my EV but i think it would be better to use those resources on Hybrids.
    The faster we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil the better. If everyone drove a hybrid we just may be able to be self sufficient when it comes to oil production.

  18. Tony Gaulke Avatar
    Tony Gaulke

    Great stuff, Alex. This is exactly what toyota execs have been trying to show the world’s economic forums for awhile now. Makes total sense.

  19. Glen Ferguson Avatar
    Glen Ferguson

    I’ve been thinking this for some time. Glad to hear a clear analysis of the rationale supporting it. Of course, my e-bike saves even more resources… when the trip is appropriate to using it!

  20. royallprick Avatar

    Thank you for making this video. I’ve had a similar conversation with more “progressive” friends re: electric vehicles, and it blows my mind that people can’t wrap their minds around the fact that between increased demand in resources / scarcity of batteries / general skepticism of all-electric vehicles, we’re going to need to ease people into these more environmentally friendly (and in my opinion more exciting!) new electric offerings. Plug-ins make the most sense for me personally but normal hybrids are probably the best option for a lot of people.

    One interesting topic of conversation that’s never had, though, and that I personally would like to hear more talked about, is the “cost” of resource extraction to build a new hybrid / PHEV / full electric vehicle vs. driving a used gas vehicle. Sure, your emissions will be much lower with any of the non-ICE options, but this does NOT take into consideration resource extraction for manufacturing a new vehicle at all. Part of me wonders if driving gas-powered used cars into the ground is technically “greener” than buying new hybrids for everyone, as the used cars already exist in the world, so the resources / labor / capital has already been extracted. Would be interesting to see you attempt to run a comparison on driving used gas cars forever vs. buying new electric vehicles in “woo let’s save the planet!” terms.

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