Home » China’s Homegrown EV Brands Are Dominating Their Foreign Competition

China’s Homegrown EV Brands Are Dominating Their Foreign Competition

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A fine Monday morning to you all, and welcome back to The Autopian’s daily news roundup. If you’re reading this, you probably aren’t able to buy a Li Auto, but we’re about to explain why it’s a huge deal for the auto industry, anyway. Also on today’s docket: the latest on America’s electric vehicle tax credits, an interesting trend on hybrid cars, and how Stellantis is finally showing up to the EV party.

(Yes, it’s another day of mostly EV news, but that should tell you a lot about where things are going. Get used to it.)

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Foreign Brands Get Creamed In China

Lixiang L8 1
Photo: Li Auto

I distinctly remember a conversation with an exec from a European luxury automaker some years ago where he cheerfully told me that China’s car sales would simply go up and to the right forever, because the rate of new millionaires being minted there every day was exponential enough to be considered a permanent trend. This, he said, would make China into a perpetual golden goose for his car company.

Now, I’m just a small-town blog boy. I’m no fancy, big-city MBA or anything like that. But I can tell you that permanent upward growth is generally impossible. And everytime automakers count on it, they get egg on their faces. That day of reckoning has arrived in China, and the culprit isn’t even an economic downturn—it’s the homegrown Chinese brands getting their shit together and pushing out brands that have boomed to this point like Buick and Porsche.

Here’s the New York Times on this situation, which is driven entirely be EVs. Chinese buyers largely have no interest in fully gasoline-powered cars and the new market is about 25% electric. And these new brands like Li Auto—more on them in a second—are not only subsidized by various levels of government, they’re winning the hearts and minds of Chinese buyers who don’t want to be dependent on other countries’ cars forever:

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Ford Motor sold one million cars and light trucks in China in 2016 and in 2017 but barely 400,000 last year. Hyundai Motor, the South Korean giant, sold 1.8 million cars in China in 2016 and only 385,000 last year.

General Motors, which once vied with Germany’s Volkswagen for market leadership, has lost nearly half its sales in China. G.M. would be faring even worse if not for Wuling, a joint venture in which G.M. has a 44 percent stake. Wuling sells ultra-cheap pickup trucks and microvans that cost $4,800 to $21,800 and have slender profit margins.

The market share of China’s domestic car companies rose to 52 percent in the last quarter of 2022, from 47 percent the year before, largely on a huge rise in electric vehicle sales. The best-selling brand is BYD, in which Warren E. Buffett was an early investor. It now holds 10.3 percent of the car market, up from 2.1 percent four years ago and supplanting the Volkswagen brand as China’s leader.

The reporter also speaks to the young Cao family in Shanghai, who now own a $290,000 Porsche 911 (nice) and a $70,000 electric SUV called the Li Auto L9. That car packs an optional gasoline range extender that charges the battery but never drives the wheels; I suppose we’d categorize that as a hybrid in America, but it’s beside the point.

These new EVs in China fit the lifestyles of the country’s families, especially with their more limited driving habits. And now the foreign brands are having to compete on their terms:

Mr. Cao said he doubted he would need the backup engine. He plans to drive the S.U.V. for day trips to large parks on the outskirts of Shanghai, recharging it at home each night. Such outings have become popular in China with the end of “zero Covid” quarantines and municipal lockdowns. For longer travel to other cities, he said, he would fly or take one of China’s many bullet trains.

Even the maneuvering for choice display locations at auto shows like the one in Shanghai has changed. Until the last several years, Chinese automakers vied to put their displays close to multinational brands like Mercedes-Benz, in the expectation that Chinese car buyers would flock to the multinational brands and might see the local brands along the way.

But now, it’s Chinese electric car brands that other companies want to surround on the showroom floor, said Bill Russo, a former chief executive of Chrysler China. “You want to be closer to them — the Chinese companies have the hottest battery electric vehicles,” he said. “Foreign automakers don’t have the same halo now.”

What does this mean for the auto industry as a whole? Well, all automakers hinged their long-term hopes on China, which is now the world’s biggest car market. It’s part of why everything is going so heavily electric. And Chinese brands are starting to catch on rapidly in Europe because they’re sold at super-affordable prices. Furthermore, China still has a very tight grip on the EV supply chain, though America and other countries are trying to get ahead of that.

America’s deep tensions with China could make it hard for those brands to break into our market. I think BYD has the best chance, but it’s clearly taking its time here. But here’s the upshot: even if you’ve never seen these cars or heard of these brands, the Chinese automakers are now a huge force in the industry that could cut into profits and future plans for Western and other Asian companies.

Hybrids Also Getting Creamed By EVs in America

2023 Priusprime Xse Cuttingedge 001
Photo: Toyota

On the path to zero-tailpipe-emission vehicles, do we go hybrid and PHEV first or skip that step altogether to go fully EV? That’s a fascinating debate raging in the auto industry for now, and generally speaking, the EVs are winning. European buyers are souring on PHEVs (in part because they often weren’t charging them at all and thus never getting the most out of them) and China has made no secret of where it stands.

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But in America, the U.S. Department of Energy pointed out that automakers here are generally not increasing their PHEV options. In fact, EVs now outnumber PHEVs on the market. This is a great find from Green Car Reports:

Looking at light-duty vehicles, the DOE found that the number of EV models surpassed the number of plug-in hybrid models for the first time since 2014—going from 20 to 38 distinct models in just a year. And versus a year earlier, the number of PHEV models went down in 2022.

The DOE says that in calculating the number of models, it counted each model name just once, despite multiple configurations available for some of them.

By sales, EVs have been far ahead of PHEVs for some time—since around 2018. By the end of 2022, EVs stood at about 6% of the U.S. market while PHEVs were at just over 1%.

Experts I’ve spoken to are divided on this topic. I’ve written before that I think hybrids and PHEVs are a fantastic way to cut gas use and CO2 emissions if EVs are too rare and too expensive right now (they are) or the public charging network is still too inadequate (it is.) But others argue that hybrids are still pushing the limit for a declining technology — internal combustion — that runs on a finite resource, gasoline. The focus instead, they say, should be building up an infrastructure where batteries and minerals can be recycled almost endlessly rather than trying to stretch fossil fuels any further. [Editor’s Note: Hybrids are the answer in my eyes. Pushing people into $50,000 EVs with humongous, dirty-to-build batteries that they only use 10% of each day is just a foolish way to try to move towards electrification. I get that some people might buy a PHEV and use it like a gas car, but there are easy software fixes that would compel someone to drive mostly on electricity. I say that as someone with a BMW i3, which has a tiny gas tank that feeds a loud(ish) engine requires a fuel refill every 70 miles. Trust me, I’m gonna use my EV capability as much as possible. -DT]. 

I think that’s a tough sell right now with our charging infrastructure and not-so-green grid being what it is. But even if you think, as I do, that hybrids and PHEVs have a lot of use, automakers aren’t really investing in them; that story points out most are from Toyota, Volvo, BMW, Hyundai and Honda these days. The hybrid market has kind of stagnated while the EV market is doing very much the opposite.

Stellantis Shows Up To The EV Party

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Even before France’s PSA Group merged with Fiat Chrysler, both companies could be described as electro-skeptical. In the latter’s case, it only sold a handful of electrified cars for years, and now that they’re married and living together as Stellantis, they’re both led by CEO Carlos Tavares—who has also never been a huge fan of this stuff. Or the costs involved.

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But now, even Stellantis has seen the writing on the wall and lots of electric and electrified options are coming over the next 18 months. And they range from the Ram 1500 Rev, with its massive battery, to the tiny new Fiat 500e. From The Detroit Free Press:

First out of the gate will be the Ram ProMaster electric delivery van and the Fiat 500e, due later this year. The ProMaster EV is likely to be built in the U.S., while the 500e, a little city car, will come from Europe.

The chic little 500e is entirely different from the EV of the same name Fiat Chrysler reluctantly sold in the U.S. in 2010-19. While funky and fun to drive, that was a “compliance car,” built solely to satisfy a few states’ demand automakers sell EVs.

Fiat Chrysler lost so much money on each 500e that its then CEO, the late Sergio Marchionne, once publicly asked people not to buy them. It had a short range and an affordable price Fiat subsidized as a cost of business to sell Jeeps, Rams, minivans and muscle cars in big, profitable states like California.

Man, I miss Sergio. He really did say that, too. There’s also the electric Dodge Charger, the Jeep Recon and at least one EV for poor, neglected Chrysler. So if you’re a fan of Mopar stuff or its Franco-Italian cousins, you’re about to have some interesting choices here.

One thing I think is cool is how each of these brands is leaning into its strengths on the EV front; an electric Ram truck will be a unique animal from a Dodge muscle car, a Fiat city car or a Jeep rock-crawler. I’m eager to see how they turn out.

The Tax Credit Thing, Again

President Biden Gmc Hummer Ev 001
Photo: White House

It’s almost Tax Day here in America! (I really hope you’re not hearing that news from me for the first time.) But with it comes the official announcement of which EVs make the cut for the revised tax credit scheme, and which do not.

Expect a lot more in the “not” category this time. That’s because the new rules give the most incentives to EVs with their batteries built in North America and their “critical minerals” sourced here too. The rules are meant to incentivize local battery manufacturing, but right now, not many vehicles make that cut.

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Here’s NPR on what we’re looking at:

Starting Tuesday, fewer vehicles will qualify for the current $7,500 tax credit. Some will get a $3,750 credit instead, and some cars will no longer get any credit at all, thanks to battery sourcing requirements that are kicking in.

The $7,500 tax credit is actually two separate credits, worth $3,750 each. Right now every qualifying vehicle gets both credits, but starting April 18, vehicles could end up qualifying for neither, one, or both.

Who are the winners of the full credit? The Cadillac Lyriq, Chevy Silverado EV, Tesla Model 3 and Model Y, the F-150 Lightning, the Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring PHEV (I’m not sure I knew that even existed until now?) and the Chrysler Pacifica PHEV. Others may only get half the credit.

Needless to say, this kind of sucks for EV buyers right now. Long-term, a domestic battery operation will allow many more cars to qualify, and this is meant to incentivize that ecosystem, but that’s gonna take time.

I’d also argue that if the Biden Administration’s lofty goal is 50% EVs by 2030, and it’s spending billions in grants for public chargers, it should’ve gone much wider on car tax credits early on to spur purchasing. But hey, I’m not the president.

I did always want to run Jason for president at The Old Site; maybe I’ll finally do that in 2024 and really drain the swamp for real, you know? Changlis for some, miniature American flags for others.

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Your Turn

Hybrids: Are they worth automakers investing in or not?

I get the ones that say nope; if you’re dumping billions and billions into EVs and batteries, you want to get there as quickly as possible. But I’m driving a Volvo S60 Recharge PHEV right now—the one with 455 horsepower and 523 pound-feet of torque—and I really get the benefits here. (Also, it’s fast as shit.) I’ve used very little gas in it so far and it charges overnight off a wall outlet. It’s to want more for a daily driver. And did I mention it has 455 hp?

If you’re a global carmaker and you’re facing an all-electric future at some point, do you bother with hybrids at all?

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Leighzbohns
Leighzbohns
1 year ago

I have an e-bike and a minivan. It’s basically a PHEV!

M K
M K
1 year ago

Personally I would love a PHEV, but I do understand that in a world with limited resources where we need to move to EV’s anyway, a company needs to make choices where to spend the $$$$$$$$$$$$. Certification is a mess, tons of extra parts, still has an expensive battery, lots of other issues to deal with. I’m guessing that most PHEVs had very thin or non-existent profit margins. 4xe Wranglers may be an exception, but I doubt Jeep makes as much profit on those as an ICE version either. Generally I think if PHEVs had a good business case that could make money, companies would love them as much as their customers do. I also don’t think companies like the 8 year warranty that covers anything that could impact rated fuel economy or emissions. Like it or not, we’ve all been subsidizing PHEV through the cost of normal cars, taxes, or both. That likely won’t change with EV, you’ll just see ICE’s getting more expensive and EVs getting cheaper until the desired mix is achieved. The era of cheap personal transportation is probably over no matter what your preference (PHEV, EV, ICE).

Gary Lynch
Gary Lynch
1 year ago

Everyone needs to work harder and pay more taxes, so we can increase EV subsidies. The world depends on our work ethic.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
1 year ago

We need more Rex EV’s like the old i3. hat is the best solution for now for most people. Most of teh time it’s electri, but it has a small gas engine to recharge when needed.

SoWontLetMeKeepMyManual
SoWontLetMeKeepMyManual
1 year ago

I desperately wanted to test drive one of those Volvo S60 Recharge when I bought my most recent car and let its huge power numbers and wool seats tempt me into a completely different spending bracket than I wanted to be. But I couldn’t find one within 250 miles for 3 months of looking. In the end probably a good thing I didnt spend a solid 15k more than I wanted to spend. But also… maybe I wanted to spend that extra money…

In reality tho, the marques don’t make PHEVs in the numbers people want them. When was the last time anyone saw a RAV4 Prime vehicle available? A Pacifica? As soon as it shows up on the dealer website as ‘in transit’ you call the dealer the answer is always the same, “oh yeah, that one is already sold, but I can call you when we get one that isnt.”

David Fernandez
David Fernandez
1 year ago

We had a pacifica phev but we leased it during the covid slow month. We loved the phev aspect so much we traded in the pacifica for a niro phev. We barely use gas anymore and sine the niro is smaller and lighter it does way better on range despite the smaller battery pack.

We’re laughing past all the idiots lining up for gas here in south Florida during this idiot caused self fulfilling prophecy of a gas shortage.

Dean Reimer
Dean Reimer
1 year ago

PHEV will make a lot of sense for some buyers. Not every application is served by EVs, nor will they be for several years. But I am not a fan of the additional mechanical complexity.

I think the serial hybrid range-extender model is the best PHEV option, as you keep the simple EV powertrain and can minimize the added complexity of ICE. But it has other tradeoffs, as David Tracy avers, due to low power output for most RE motors. They aren’t usually something you want to drive on for extended periods.

Defenestrator
Defenestrator
1 year ago
Reply to  Dean Reimer

To some extent I think the mechanical complexity ends up close to a wash on most PHEVs. The extra electric motors only have a couple moving parts, and they allow a drastically simpler transmission with a single planetary gear and no valve body.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 year ago

I really, really, really wanna try the current gen of hybrid Cayennes. They, too, are fast as balls. Also, it’s a Cayenne, and therefore, probably pretty good. A comfy place to sit with enough tow capacity to drag along a beater 944. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I really like Cayennes. Given the lack of charging infrastructure in the middle of nowhere between myself and the further-away tracks in this state and the fact that parsh now fits a tow hitch to their hybrids, gosh, the faster hybrid Cayenne sounds like a dream towpig.

Wil Randolph
Wil Randolph
1 year ago

As others have said, the PHEV route needs to be further explored here in America. Yes, it is training wheels for EVs, but it’s also more necessary here in NA to get anywhere near mass adoption.

Never mind the fact I can sell 10 people PHEVs that wipe our 25-30 miles per charge per day, versus 1 person per day for the same 25-30 miles (which means much less pollution as 230 miles covered is 10x 25), we live in a country with a severely underfunded and outdated electrical system. This means every person in Europe has level 2 coming out of their wall, but most Americans will need to upgrade their panel just to have enough to charge on level 2. Where are people supposed to charge these cars if they don’t have the option?

We are not ready for BEVs at scale. Full stop. There’s no quibble here, and I’m directly involved in the process. We need everyone to upgrade to level 2 at home, and we need to build at least 5x as many chargers as we have fuel stations currently. During that time, we will also hopefully watch the battery tech update again and get beyond NMC and LFP batteries, or clean up the method of obtainment.

Then we can start to go toward mass adoption of full-EVs. Any attempt to do so early forces undue burden on the user in cost, forces further unwanted pollution on the planet, and increases the physical debt required.

Each country and nation has their own challenges to face here. It’s just odd that the US of A also has to fight it out with people who still think there’s a choice here. There isn’t. We’re going toward EVs because we have to or get left in the global polluted dust.

George Daily
George Daily
1 year ago
Reply to  Wil Randolph

Right on site! Good reply!

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 year ago
Reply to  Wil Randolph

I agree with King Caddy. Here in the foothills of Appalachia, full BEVs just won’t cover many people’s use (I once drove way too far in WV trying to find a gas station with both premium and a working card-reader). The lady I buy pies from up in Gap Mills told me she drives an hour & a half to my little burg in Va to buy school clothes. Who is going to build chargers in these barely incorporated areas?

Plus, qualified electricians are retiring and the pipeline of new ones has barely a trickle going currently (sorry!). I work for a very large mechanical services company, and, even with what we pay, we are having trouble finding people to do electrical work. And that’s not even getting into the infrastructure!

Wil Randolph
Wil Randolph
1 year ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Yeah… I honestly have been kept up quite a few nights just walking through the different ways this could get derailed.
And that was before I learned about the problems with the electrical transformers that we all use to power out houses. Then we have the problem of remote situations (probably best solved with batteries, solar, wind, etc on sight versus high voltage everywhere), and as you mentioned just finding enough electricians to re-wire any existing home that doesn’t already have 200-400 amps of service (if you can get it), and all the commercial updates (are we still driving to work on the future?), AND all the chargers that will need to be built, installed, repaired, and maintained.

All of the problems are absolutely answerable by committed, dedicated individuals; however, time is the crucial factor and PHEVs give us a bit more time for tech and training to catch up.

With that said, I think I’ll go look up electrician training in my local area…

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 year ago
Reply to  Wil Randolph

Now’s a great time to go into the field: companies like mine used to only hire experienced people, but will now take pretty much anyone presentable & motivated.

Gee See
Gee See
1 year ago
Reply to  Wil Randolph

As long as an American home has a electric dryer (220V), they can do Level 2..Even Amazon sells switches to hook electric dryers and chargers. While it is not the full dedicated 60A like a Tesla Wall Charger, but 40A like the Tesla portable charger. Tesla portable chargers is probably the best deal on Level 2 chargers. I just can’t see power companies in the US would upgrade unless the government mandate them.

Ben
Ben
1 year ago

We should be doing everything in our power to make PHEVs viable, at least for the medium-term. They make the best of use of both limited resources used for transportation right now: gas and batteries. For most people, 90+% of their driving can be done entirely on the much smaller battery, but you still have the option to use gas for the other 10%. You’re using a fraction of the resources to accomplish the same thing as either a full EV or ICE.

And Europe needs to stop allowing PHEVs to charge the battery with the ICE. If you want the EV benefits for things like city centers then plug the damn thing in. That might not get rid of all of the problems, but it would be a big step in the right direction and that’s exactly what we need right now when it comes to emissions.

David Fernandez
David Fernandez
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben

Agreed, I think phevs are the current (ha! Pun not intended) best solution for this switchover.

We love them so much, we’re on our 2nd phev. We put in gas maybe once a month or if we take a long trip.

Right now we have the niro phev with 34 miles of range, if we had 40-50, we wouldn’t use gas at all except on long trips.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 year ago

Regarding foreign brands in China: It should be noted Tesla is one ‘foreign brand’ that isn’t getting creamed there. The real reason why the legacy foreign-to-china brands are getting creamed is because they’re not as competitive in the BEV area like Tesla and the Chinese makers are.

Regarding hybrids getting creamed by BEVs… not surprising. Why get a Prius Prime when you can get a Bolt for the same money or less? Well I can think of a few reasons and it’s a harder choice now with the nicely updated Prius.

Regarding hybrids being worthwhile… I’d say it depends on the automaker. For a company like Ford, I’d say it makes sense to keep a hybrid option around for those buyers who need longer driving range and who doesn’t want the cost associated with diesel.

Bork Bork
Bork Bork
1 year ago

They are getting creamed on quality, Tesla is among the last in China. They are starting to get creamed on tech as well.

Knowonelse
Knowonelse
1 year ago

I have been driving a hybrid since ’06 and was then commuting an hour each way. I have an AWD Prius now and work from home. The vast majority of my driving is local so a PHEV would be ideal, but since I typically keep vehicles for 10 years or more, and I’m at the age where I may only buy one more new vehicle. A PHEV makes sense until the EV infrastructure gets built up better.

Scott
Scott
1 year ago

Looking forward to a review of the Volvo S60 Recharge PHEV you’re driving Patrick! 🙂 And unless someone else around here has done it, while Volvo’s lending press cars, it’d be useful to read a comparison of their XC40 vs the XC40 Recharge EV. The XC40 is right-sized (IMO) and quirky enough to be appealing, but there’s a whopping $17K upcharge in base price to go electric. Which seems punitive, no matter how much someone digs historic Volvos of yore.

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
1 year ago

I think plug in hybrids are the correct intermediate step for most people. I’ve been taking a hard look at a Grand Cherokee 4xE or BMW 530e for my next vehicle. I should be able to be all electric for my daily commute and only use the engine for longer trips.

Wil Randolph
Wil Randolph
1 year ago
Reply to  TXJeepGuy

One note when you eventually drive the WL74 4XE: make sure the battery has better than a 50% SOC so you can get the full boot of acceleration.

I’m averaging 25-30mpg depending on how far I have to go day to day, and the level 1 charging is all I’ve used so far.

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
1 year ago

Hybrids are a dead end. Plug in hybrids are better if they are designed to be electric first and use gas only when necessary. The range extender idea is a good one. Ramping up BEV production is the best way forward IMO.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
1 year ago

I think PHEVs have a strong use case. Sure they’re a bit of a kludge, but they fill a gap that exists whether ideal or not. David makes a an important point about big batt BEVs not being so perfect either.

Sensual Bugling Elk
Sensual Bugling Elk
1 year ago

Hybrids were worth the investment… two decades ago.

But automakers and legislators collectively missed that boat, and as a result we’re absolutely hosed on the transportation emissions front. Instead we got CAFE rules that explicitly incentivized “light trucks” and large footprints, in tandem with electrification tax credits that explicitly incentivized massive battery packs.

We now have exactly the new car market that legislators and the Detroit OEMs asked for: companies are building and marketing as many obscenely gigantic, gasoline-chugging light trucks as they can, while shoving massive batteries into similarly brobdingnagian EVs that only the top 10% can reasonably afford.

We could have had proactive transportation electrification policy 20 years ago that does exactly what the IRA is doing now: electrify the American vehicle fleet (but in the form of hybrids, not EVs) while developing a domestic battery supply chain. Today, we could have a majority-hybrid light duty vehicle fleet with the production-weighted average new vehicle getting around 40mpg instead of *checks internet* dear God, 27? That’s it?

So we have a horrifically gas-dependent fleet, a consumer base conditioned to want the biggest, most wasteful types of vehicles, decrepit electrical transmission infrastructure. So yeah, if we weren’t also two generations behind on mitigating the climate disaster, hybrids would be the obvious transition power train solution.

I’m too young to be this disappointed and angry.

Last edited 1 year ago by Sensual Bugling Elk
1franky
1franky
1 year ago

You have to wonder how much further ahead we’d be on the adoption of hybrids in the US if one of the big three was the company to invent and master them instead of Toyota.

Jan Schiefer
Jan Schiefer
1 year ago
Reply to  1franky

They did – some of the early key patents are Ford’s, e.g. https://patents.google.com/patent/US3270207 (1964)

Last edited 1 year ago by Jan Schiefer
RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
1 year ago

PHEVs are both the best and worst of EVs and ICE vehicles. I see them as a stepping stone to full EV for most people. Knowing that a PHEV will give them enough electric range for daily driving and enough gas range to get them 400+ miles will get people over range/charge anxiety concerns. As EVs get better and the charging infrastructure improves, PHEV owners may get more comfortable making the switch to full EV.

Unless they forget to plug the PHEV in every night…

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
1 year ago

I’m curious why you say they are the “best and worst” of EVs and ICE vehicles. Other than cost, I don’t see a downside to plug in hybrids. And considering the price of batteries, a plug in hybrid is probably going to be cheaper than an EV given its smaller battery. Plus, they require no investment in infrastructure for the buyer (multiple accessible outlets for multicar households, 240 volt charging for those that drive a lot, etc.) or in public charging infrastructure.

I don’t necessarily see plug in hybrids as only a stepping stone to EV adoption, but as a reasonable alternative to full EVs. If ICE vehicles switched to plug in hybrids with a reasonable EV only range (40+ miles), that would eliminate an incredible amount of CO2 emissions given how the average driver uses their vehicle. Also, the smaller batteries in plug in hybrids would reduce the negative impacts of battery production (mining, hazardous materials to discard, etc.). Additionally, while EV technology will keep improving, there will probably be some applications that are not well suited to EVs (driving in extremely cold weather, towing, driving in remote locations, etc.). Plug in hybrids would allow drivers whose needs aren’t well suited to EVs to drive emissions-free for at least a portion of the driving.

I still can’t believe plug in hybrids aren’t more popular. They seem to be an excellent compromise between ICE vehicles and EVs.

RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
1 year ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

Best of ICE; range
Worst of ICE; maintenance
Best of EV; charge at home
Worst of EV; weight

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
1 year ago

I would disagree that weight is the worst thing about EVs. In my experience, the worst part of EVs (and the reason I still own an ICE vehicle in addition to an EV), is charging infrastructure. I can deal with the expense, weight, and lengthy charging time, but the inability to consistently find functional level 3 chargers really sucks.

Thatmiataguy
Thatmiataguy
1 year ago

The thing about hybrids adding so much weight seriously gets overstated.

Do you know how much a new 4 cylinder Camry weighs (top trim level)? 3425 lbs. With the V6? 3585 lbs.

Surely the hybrid is much worse? 3580 lbs.

Why are many people under the impression that hybrid powertrains are the “worst of both worlds” because they add so much weight? The batteries really aren’t all that big. In the case of a regular hybrid, it’s only the difference of adding another passenger to the car, and in return you get significantly better fuel efficiency.

Torque
Torque
1 year ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

Logically I can see why phev probably make the most sense right now to fill the gap while battery tech. continues to improve.
Why should a legacy ice auto manufacturer make a phev?
There are 3 big incentive stumbling blocks for manufacturers.
1. It will cost the maker more which means they pass those costs on to the consumer + maker has to take on additional risk the ‘sales will appear’ for the upcharged vehicles…
2. Makers have retreated to ‘light trucks’ bc of policy makers tightening emissions regulations on cars, so they focus on selling people on bigger, heavier, more polluting crossovers (that can be classified as light trucks) & trucks. Adding phev option just makes these more heavy & again they would be taking additional risk that individuals will buy the upcharged phev version of the same lower priced lighter vehicle
3. Where’s the demand? Say ‘Logical you’ go to buy say a Honda CRV. Do you buy the CRV or the E-CRV at a 15% upcharge? Logical you do some back of the napkin math & figure it is reasonable to assume your TCO will be 10% lower by buying the E-CRV. Problem is ‘Logical You’ is an exceptional minority in the car buying market. The majority of car buyers (as stupid as it is) focus on “what’s my monthly loan payment?” As this article states if phev sales have been declining / superseded by pure EVs or bc there are better pure ev options, make the investment and go full in with new pure ev models

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
1 year ago
Reply to  Torque

I would pay extra for the plug in hybrid. My solution at the moment is to have a Leaf in addition to my ICE vehicle. It would make sense for me to pay extra for the plug in hybrid variant, since driving an EV is enough of a priority for me to buy a second vehicle. My situation is probably unique, in that I regularly do 500+ mile road trips (so EV only won’t work) but I am highly motivated to drive as many miles as possible without using gas. So it would make sense to me to pay more to get a plug-in hybrid, but I acknowledge I am probably in the minority.

As for the cost and weight, I guess I don’t see those as major concerns given how expensive and heavy modern vehicles are.

1franky
1franky
1 year ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

I think a large part of it is that PHEVs compete against much cheaper hybrids and are similarly priced to EVs. I recently looked for a new family hauler, and here in Colorado with fed and state tax credits a Model Y is the same price as the Rav4 Prime (if you could even find one to buy), or you could save $10,000 and buy a Rav4 hybrid that gets 40mpg (and that $10,000 buys a lot of gas), there isn’t a really great case for the PHEV. If PHEV pricing was closer to that of non-plug hybrids getting one would be a no brainer but as it stands there isn’t much in the way of good cheap options.

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
1 year ago
Reply to  1franky

Don’t a lot of federal and state tax credits also apply to plug in hybrids? The $10,000 premium for the Rav4 PHEV obviously doesn’t make financial sense (even at $5 per gallon that is 80k miles at 40 mpg), but I wonder if the premium over the hybrid model takes tax incentives into account?

Also, the fact that an Rav4 prime is almost impossible to find suggests there is at least some demand for the PHEV model despite the price.

Thatmiataguy
Thatmiataguy
1 year ago
Reply to  1franky

Don’t forget that the RAV4 Prime also has significantly more horsepower (302) and does 0-60 in the 5 second range. People will definitely pay $10k more for a significantly more powerful engine in other cars, and the fact that the Prime is even more efficient is just icing on top.

Thirdmort
Thirdmort
1 year ago

I think the big problem for hybrids that I haven’t seen mentioned on this page is build complexity. Hybrids are basically shoving 2 powertrains into 1 car. There’s a ton of extra wiring that you now have to route and most of that is high voltage. Packaging becomes really tough. For many people I’ve talked to at OEMs, everyone just feel that it’s just easier to go full EV when designing a new car. Packaging gets easier and assembly gets simpler. Because of that, hybrids are just a tough sell to product planners.

Andrew Bugenis
Andrew Bugenis
1 year ago

I’d also argue that… [the Biden administration] should’ve gone much wider on car tax credits early on to spur purchasing.”

IIRC they wanted to, but Manchin got in the way.

ProfPlum
ProfPlum
1 year ago

I’m no fancy, big-city MBA or anything like that.” Good thing – in my (many) years working in industry, the MBA solution often caused pain for the consumer or the company.

Regarding PHEV/Hybrid/BEV, I owned a hybrid early on (2nd gen Prius), PHEVs (1st gen Volt and a Volvo XC90T8), and now a Volvo BEV. I work primarily from home and charge at home 99% of the time, so it works for me.

If I were commuting or traveling by car a lot more, I would stay with a PHEV until the non-Tesla US charging infrastructure catches up.

Nlpnt
Nlpnt
1 year ago
Reply to  ProfPlum

Pure EVs went too high-margin too fast with things like the Hummer EV and Lightning because of the MBA mindset.

For instance, Ford should’ve prioritized the e-Transit – work vans tend to be bought by TCO-minded fleet managers with a use case in mind, they know what range they need for multi-stop low speed/high regen urban delivery or to be a rolling toolbox that goes to a jobsite and stays there – and an EV small car to compete with the Bolt. But they went to a pickup fast and early and are getting reamed on range expectations vs reality.

Gee See
Gee See
1 year ago
Reply to  Nlpnt

Van’s / transit has to deal with the chicken tax.. pick ups the manufacturing line is in the US already, is much easier to deal with. Though in my neck of the woods, I do see eTransit daily.

Paul B
Paul B
1 year ago

PHEV full size pickups (your F-150 and 1500 size) should be a no brainer. Electric for daily duties, gas for range if you tow.

Gee See
Gee See
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul B

F150 and Tundra have hybrid version but since you essentially have 2 different drivetrains it will cost you. The question is whether it makes financial sense.

A. Barth
A. Barth
1 year ago

Changlis for some, miniature American flags for others.

And always twirling, twirling, twirling toward electrification.

Dsa Lkjh
Dsa Lkjh
1 year ago

“…declining technology — internal combustion — that runs on a finite resource, gasoline.”

Internal combustion engines can run on a whole range of liquid fuels, some of which are sustainable and carbon neutral.

We could do a lot to improve emissions from ICE vehicles (while not even making them smaller and lighter which would be a huge help), but instead we’re binning the entire technology because it’s used inefficiently by untrained idiots and with two unsustainable fuels.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
1 year ago
Reply to  Dsa Lkjh

Glad to see this comment. There are as many uses cases for transportation as there are people on the planet. It annoys me when people discuss the Winner versus the Loser, when in reality we should be considering all options and pursuing many of them.

Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
1 year ago
Reply to  Dsa Lkjh

I disagree that the companies are binning the ICE, but they are definitely looking at the short game. I see them as looking at it like this “What is the fastest way we can reach the emissions goals?” For them, I think since EV’s are finally doable, it is much easier to reach that goal. I don’t know if they have long term plans to continue with alternative fuels, but we can hope, we only have Toyota that we know of that is working on alternates.

Dsa Lkjh
Dsa Lkjh
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Wyman

I work for OEMs designing ICE, those jobs are gone or going, certainly in Europe. The industry has been forced in to making long term commitments by government policies.

ElmerTheAmish
ElmerTheAmish
1 year ago
Reply to  Dsa Lkjh

I feel this comment every day when I walk through the office parking lot where multiple people are just sitting in their cars with the engines running. 65 degrees and sunny? Engine and A/C on! 55 degrees and cloudy? Engine and heat on!

It reminds me that, unfortunately, there is a large number of people who don’t know and/or don’t care a damn bit about what’s happening right now. People are not going to want to switch what they’re doing if they don’t absolutely have to.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
1 year ago
Reply to  ElmerTheAmish

Every day, I see that – and it makes me not angry, but stabby.
Like when the two older people in my office print an entire 100-page Spec Set so that they can check a thing or two. Read it on your screen, or just print the part you need.

Boulevard_Yachtsman
Boulevard_Yachtsman
1 year ago
Reply to  Dsa Lkjh

That line had me scratching my head as well. Reading it, I was reminded of the Portuguese phrase: “Completa o tanque com álcool, por favor” (Fill the tank with alcohol, please), which allowed me to drive an ICE Chevy Corsa half way across Brazil and back on their home-grown sugar cane distillates. None of this E-85 stuff, I’m pretty sure it was E-100.

Arch Duke Maxyenko
Arch Duke Maxyenko
1 year ago

I did finally see a Lyriq for the first time on Saturday, it was on a car transporter going south on I-75.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
1 year ago

How well is China’s power grid handling all these EVs? Do they have a functional public charging network? Or are they facing the same problems we are, but we just don’t hear about them?

Jason Mason
Jason Mason
1 year ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

I can’t speak to the charging network there but many of the EVs in that market have swappable battery packs. You drive into a bay (many are unmanned/automatic), have your depleted battery removed and a fully-charged one installed, in minutes. They have the same for mopeds/scooters/ebikes, where you pull up to a machine and manually swap out your battery packs.

Gee See
Gee See
1 year ago
Reply to  Jason Mason

NIO is notable one.. also availble in Norway. I think it is clunky, but it works. I am just not sure how well other people treat their batteries before a swap. For those who haven’t seen it.. look up Bjorn Nyland on Youtube.

Gee See
Gee See
1 year ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

China runs at 220V at home. They also spend a heck lot more on infrastructure than North America in general.

Robot Turds
Robot Turds
1 year ago

There are a number of videos out there showing the sheer volume of EV fires happening in China these days. And we’re not talking some no-name brands. Its even some of the more established ones like BYD. So yeah. Maybe they are cheaper. But cheap in all the wrong ways.

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