Home » America Needs More Plug-In Hybrids Right Now

America Needs More Plug-In Hybrids Right Now

Phev Volvo S60 Recharge 2
ADVERTISEMENT

I am excited and inspired by electric cars. Their adoption has accelerated dramatically over the last three years as manufacturers have started to fulfill the promise of electric cars. They are good solutions for many Americans, but I’m not sure they’ll work yet for most Americans. What will? Plug-in hybrids, or PHEVs. As we move towards an increasingly electrified future, it’s about time we consider the role PHEVs can play.

Of course, any article about what’s to come in the world of cars requires a lot of important clarifications to preempt any arguments based on existing biases. There is no Switzerland in the automotive world. From the rampant anti-car screeds on r/FuckCars, to unhinged Tesla fanboys, to coal-rollers, to EV skeptics, to Radwooders, it’s not possible to find a real middle ground.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

I will not attempt to find one here, but I’ll lay out a few beliefs I have to inform where my mind is at:

  • Global warming is real and potentially quite disruptive to life on this planet.
  • While electric cars are not perfect and do create pollution and contribute to global conflict, the carbon footprint benefit of someone switching to an electric car significantly outweighs the negatives.
  • It would be a disaster if everyone switched to an EV tomorrow as the grid and public charging network is woefully unprepared. As a society, it should be a top priority to correct this.
  • It’s clear that neither car manufacturers nor battery suppliers are in the position to meet even one-tenth of the demand for electric passenger cars under new government regulations.
  • People have a right to travel and, if they enjoy cars, should be allowed to buy and drive just about any car they want.
  • Commuting sucks for most people, and replacing a lot of it with public transit, biking, and work-from-home is a net benefit both to society and car enthusiasts. This is easier said than done in some places, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying.
  • Just replacing every gas-powered car with an EV that has a giant battery doesn’t correct our land use issues.
  • Driving in cities, largely, sucks. We should redesign public spaces and streets in denser environments to support biking, pedestrians, and public transit. Just putting chargers everywhere for, mostly, wealthier people is not solving the problem.
  • Density is good, but not everyone wants to live in a higher-density environment. Cars are still necessary for a lot of people, and fun for others.

You may not agree with me on all of those points, but if you don’t agree with any of them then this is probably not going to be an enjoyable article for you to read.

Niro S60 Charger

ADVERTISEMENT

The point is, right now we’re in a kind of transition phase. The traditional, gas-powered, not-smart era of cars is slowly giving way to a more electrified and connected one. We have a lot of problems to tackle as that happens, including adding access to new fuel sources and charging. But it also gives us a chance to reexamine what wasn’t good about that era of cars and try to make the future better.

Hence where I’m at on PHEVs right now. I see them as a great solution in this bridge era and probably beyond it as well—maybe more than most car buyers realize.

The options for PHEVs these days are fantastic, and cover a huge range of cars. If you want an off-roader, you can grab the extremely popular Jeep Wrangler 4xe. A minivan? Try the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. At the cheaper end of the market, there’s the incredible Toyota Prius Prime for around $34,000. At the extreme end of what you can buy is the $500,000 Ferrari SF90 Stradale.

What Counts As A PHEV?

Ferrari Sf90 Stradale

What all these cars have in common are the following:

ADVERTISEMENT
  • A gas-powered motor capable of propelling the car (either driving the wheels or acting as a generator for batteries, which drive the wheels via a motor/motors)
  • An electric motor capable of driving the car with the gas engine turned off.
  • A battery pack.
  • The ability to charge the battery pack using a port on the car that connects to an external power source.

That’s it. If the only source of power for the onboard battery is the car’s gas motor (plus brake regen), that’s just a normal hybrid.

Not all PHEVs have the same mission and not all are created equal. Some PHEVs, like the Prius Prime, have a larger battery pack and are designed for efficiency, allowing an owner to travel over 40 miles on a single charge. The aforementioned Ferrari? You’re lucky to get 9 miles of pure EV driving as it’s designed to use its electric motors to make you a lot faster on a race track.

Wrangler4xe

Right in between is the Jeep Wrangler 4xe, which returns a completely usable 22 miles of EV-only range, plus gives drivers the added benefit of extra torque in off-road situations. There’s a bit of have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too to PHEVs in that, when run as EVs, they can reduce the need to use gas at all; when the internal combustion engine is utilized, a PHEV typically gives a driver more power and more efficiency, even if they never plug it in.

As with anything in life, plug-in hybrids aren’t without their drawbacks. A Wrangler 4xe starts at $54,735, while a comparable Rubicon starts at $47,495. The 4xe, though, does qualify for a $3,750 federal tax credit. Having both a gas engine and an electric motor adds weight, which reduces the efficiency of the vehicle.

ADVERTISEMENT

See, if you only use the car in EV mode then you’re probably hauling around a gas motor for no good reason. And if you’re only using it in ICE mode, that’s sort of defeating the point as well. This is part of why PHEVs get so much shit in various emissions studies out of Europe: too many companies bought them for their corporate fleets thanks to generous tax breaks, and then those drivers (who were often using company gas cards anyway) never charged them. You have to charge these cars or you’re screwing yourself.

In order to evaluate the usefulness of plug-in hybrids, I borrowed two very different types of these vehicles: The 2023 Kia Niro PHEV and the Volvo S60 Recharge.

The Kia Niro PHEV: A Lot Of Car For $34,000

Kia Niro Phev

I can’t drive two cars simultaneously, so friend-of-the-site Joel Johnson picked up the Kia Niro PHEV for me. Almost immediately, he was cornered by someone in a grocery store parking lot who not only knew what it was, but wanted to congratulate Joel for driving it! I get it. The little Niro looks like a $60,000 design on a car that starts around $34,000 [Editor’s Note: I don’t know if I quite agree, but it does look interesting. -DT]. Even our completely loaded version barely cost over $40,000.

Fast Facts: 2023 Kia Niro SX Touring

ADVERTISEMENT
  • Cost: $33,840 (Base), $41,635 (as tested)
  • Powertrain: 1.6-liter four-cylinder w/ electric motor assist (FWD)
  • Electric Motor: 62 kW permanent magnet synchronous motor
  • Power: 180 hp / 195 lb-ft (Combined gas/electric)
  • Battery Size: 11.1-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery
  • Electric Range: 34 Miles

The Niro is interesting in that it only comes in hybrid or EV form. The non-plugin Niro HEV is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with a small battery and small electric motor that gets a combined 53 mpg. Move up to the plug-in and you get a bigger battery pack. The EV version gets a sensible 253 miles of range on the EPA range test.

There are two main types of plug-in hybrids: vehicles that connect the electric motor to the transmission to the drive the wheels (like the Niro), and ones (like the S60) that power the wheels or axles directly using one or more electric motors. This technology is still relatively new so there are some interesting variations. The Wrangler 4xe actually has two motors, with one connected to the 2.0-liter motor to provide additional torque (a BSG, Belt Starter Generator on the accessory drive — the “P0” hybrid system), and another connected to the transmission that replaces the torque converter (an ISG, Inline Starter Generator — the “P2” hybrid system).

With the Niro PHEV, the electric motor is typically powering the car at low speeds (where electric motors are more efficient), during acceleration where it can give the car a little extra punch, and when it can keep propelling the car forward during high-speed cruising. Here’s a neat graphic from Kia that shows how it works:

Screen Shot 2023 05 01 At 2.26.52 Pm

If all you want is electric power, the Niro has an EV mode to restrict EV use. There’s also an EV+ mode that uses the EV except when the accelerator pedal is pushed all the way to the floor.

ADVERTISEMENT

In practice, this means you can have a pure EV for about 34 miles. That’s probably enough distance for many people to travel to-and-from work, though not everyone. According to a 2021 study by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the average worker only commutes about 15.2 miles a day. This same worker, however, ends up traveling about 44.8 miles a day when shopping, recreation, and other activities are included.

If you own one of these cars and can charge overnight, but not at work, you’ll be covered for most of the day. If a Type 2 public charger is available at work, it should only take about two hours to fully recharge the battery from zero. Even with a standard three-pin 120-volt plug, the Niro can get to 100% in about six hours.

Joel has the ability to plug into a wall at his garage so it’s easy for him to charge up overnight. It’s a little harder for me as my parking spot lacks a charger, though there are public chargers nearby.

Kia Niro Phev Interior

The Niro is definitely going on the list of cars I can recommend to people as I found the car to be nerdy enough to appeal to the tech-curious side of me and practical enough to appeal to the dad in me. I think the Niro looks great, is extremely efficient, and is quite roomy for something with a battery pack wedged under the seats. The EPA interior volume is 120.3 cubic feet, which is about the same size as a Honda HR-V.

ADVERTISEMENT

We took both the Volvo and the Kia up to the FCP Euro Proving Grounds autocross course at the historic Lime Rock Park race track in northern Connecticut for some tire-squealing hijinks while FCP Euro worked on their BTCC-inspired Volvo 850 wagon project.

While its 0-60 mph time in the mid-7-second range isn’t great, the car does have 180 horsepower and only weighs about 3,300 pounds, so both Joel and I were able to toss it around without tossing our cookies. Is it fast, no? It’s not supposed to be. It’s sufficient.

Overall, it’s a completely livable car, at a reasonable price, that feels nice and barely needs any gasoline for the average commuter.

The Volvo S60 T8 Recharge PHEV: This Thing’s A Rocket

Phev Volvo S60 Recharge 2

Patrick had an S60 T8 Recharge a couple of weeks before I did, and his advice was to go out and find an unsuspecting Challenger owner to dust at a stoplight. He was right. Given that it’ll do 0-60 mph in about 4.1 seconds, most muscle cars don’t stand a chance.

ADVERTISEMENT

This thing is the rare sleeper these days that doesn’t scream “LOOK AT ME, I’M A SLEEPER.” It’s still a Volvo. It’s discrete and handsome. But it has 455 horsepower and can kick your ass before you even knew it was coming for you.

Fast Facts: 2023 Volvo S60 T8 Recharge Black Edition

  • Cost: $57,950 (Base), $63,690 (as tested)
  • Drivetrain: 2.0-liter turbocharged (front wheels), electric motor (rear wheels)
  • Power: 455 hp / 523 lb-ft (Combined gas/electric)
  • Battery Size: 18/8-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery
  • Electric Range: 40 Miles

Unlike the Niro PHEV, The S60’s gas motor and electric motor are not connected via the transmission. Up front is Volvo’s turbocharged and intercooled 2.0-liter inline-four, which has enough grunt on its own to make for a quick little sedan. The 143-horsepower electric motor sitting over the rear axle creates an all-wheel-drive car that confidently pulls from a dead stop with a rush of acceleration and very little drama. This is quite similar to what the Polestar 1 offers, which makes sense since Polestar helped make this car.

Phev Volvo S60 Recharge 3

It’s an absolute hoot in a straight line if you want to involve the gas motor. If you don’t, it’s also a relatively nice electric car. I got the S60 Recharge delivered and immediately put it in “Pure EV” mode to experience EV-only driving. While I did inadvertently trip the gas motor a couple of times under hard acceleration, I was able to drive from my kid’s ballet practice, to the store, to any number of weekend chores only using electric power. I was even able to plug in to a local fast charger during a coffee run and grab a couple of extra miles of range while I waited in line for a chocolate babka (look to the babka!)

ADVERTISEMENT

While the S60 does weigh over 4,400 pounds, apparently 143 electric horsepower is enough power to not feel slow when poking around town.

As with the Kia, I took the S60 Recharge around the FCP Euro track to see how fast it could go in both modes. While the car was on all-season tires and is not designed for racetracks, it actually did quite well, setting a 42.8-second time. Our old friend Michael Roselli was there and was able to get the lap time down almost to 40 seconds.

In “Power” mode, the car is smart enough to guess what the driver wants and shoves as much torque into the rear tires as it can. It’s not a huge shove, but it’s enough to get the car to counter some of its natural tendency towards understeer. If, like me, you push the car right to the edge (or, perhaps, needlessly over it), Volvo’s seatbelt tensioners will step in to corset you into the seat until you promise to stop.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by The Autopian (@theautopian)

For even more fun, we all challenged to go into EV-only mode to see how much slower just 143 horsepower will get you. It wasn’t slow! You can see in the video above that I was able to get a 48.4-second lap out of the S60 Recharge (curiously, all of us ended up at basically 48 seconds when we tried). The biggest challenge, honestly, was not making the engine turn on by pushing too hard on the accelerator pedal. I was able to get the car up to about 60 mph on the “straight” without tripping the gas engine and Volvo says the car can go up to 72 mph in Pure EV mode.

ADVERTISEMENT

Phev Volvo S60 Recharge Badge

Again, the most obvious difference between this and the Polestar 1 is this car lacks the fancy Akebono brakes and Ohlins adjustable dampers at each corner. The S60 is also about $100,000 cheaper than the Polestar.

Inside, the Volvo is a comfortable and semi-luxurious place to be. It’s pretty much a standard Volvo and, other than a few extra controls, you’d have no idea it was a PHEV. With a larger battery, expect the S60 to take more than ten hours to fill up on a 110-volt home charger. On a 220v home charger, the Volvo should take about five hours and a Level 2 charger should take about 2.5 hours.

Phev Volvo S60 Recharge Interior

While Autopian writer Thomas might enjoy the $3,200 Bowers and Wilkins premium sound system, I’d chuck to keep the price closer to $60,000. The Black Edition does bring the black grill, badging, and dark metallic paint, which does look good.

ADVERTISEMENT

(Editor’s Note: I absolutely love the S60 Recharge. The vague “Recharge” branding does it no favors, but it’s a land-missile of a sedan with incredibly comfortable seats and phenomenal fuel economy and electric range. The tech is a bit dated because that generation of Volvo’s been around for a bit, but it still looks great inside and out. And while it’s no handler, I couldn’t believe the speed this hybrid put down. I’m not sure anyone builds a better sleeper right now than this.

Phev Volvo S60 Recharge Volvo

Oh, and to the driver of that modified Honda Civic Type R that I encountered on the Palisades Parkway: Sorry, kid. Nothing personal, I promise. -PG)

Honestly, just spay the $70,000 for the V60 wagon edition and what you’ll have is one of the coolest, most practical, and surprisingly fast vehicles you can buy.

Screen Shot 2023 05 01 At 3.32.11 Pm

ADVERTISEMENT

I made the mistake of configuring this car on Volvo’s site and now I want it. If there are two complaints I have about this car, it’s that it requires premium fuel when it needs fuel (because of the high-strung motor) and there’s no physical button to switch between Pure EV and other modes, meaning you have to use the touchscreen to change your propulsion.

Plug-In Hybrids Are A Great Way To Learn About Your Commute

Phev Volvo S60 Recharge Rear

How much do you really drive in a day? Most commuters are desensitized to putting gas in their cars and only become aware of it when prices at the pump get above a certain level. When driving a plug-in hybrid, as with a lot of EVs, you’re training yourself to think about how much you’re driving.

For instance, it’s about 5.1 miles from my parking spot to my daughter’s dance studio. If I add 0.2 miles to go to the bakery while she dances I can plug into the Level 2 charger nearby and add about 2.8 kilowatt hours of juice to the battery. I can also get a cookie. This means that, if I leave home with a full battery, by the time I make the round trip, I’ll still have about 35 miles of range when I get home.

While at the track, we used a couple of the Porsche Destination Chargers that Porsche has kindly put in key locations around the world, and it was fun to go and get lunch and come back to find a couple of miles had been added back.

ADVERTISEMENT

Plug-In Hybrids Are Electric Cars With None Of The Anxiety

The question I ask when people complain about not being able to drive an electric car because of range is: How often do you drive more than 200 miles in a day? It’s rare. Most people can remember when they had to drive more than 200 miles because it was a special occasion of some kind. My parents live about 200 miles away, round trip, and that’s the longest journey we typically take. The average EV would be fine for us.

Trying to maintain the battery as much as possible, I found myself asking questions like: Is it worth it to get in the car to drive five miles to the good grocery store for milk or can I just walk around the corner to the average grocery store to get exactly the same thing?

Admittedly, it becomes a little bit like a game, but it’s a game that saves money and energy… assuming you don’t spend all of your money on cookies.

Is A PHEV Right For You?

Phev Volvo S60 Recharge Charging

PHEVs are usable for almost everyone, but I think these are the questions to ask before purchasing one:

ADVERTISEMENT
  • Do I have the ability to charge my car at home or access a public charging station convenient to where the car is parked?
  • Is my typical travel under 50 miles a day?
  • Do I occasionally need to drive more than 250 miles in a day?

If you answered “yes” to all of those questions then a PHEV is good for you. If you drive more than 250 miles a day, every day, then a more efficient gas or longer-range electric car is also an option with considering.

America (And The World) Want PHEVs. But We May Not Get Them For Long

Last year, one in four Jeep Wranglers sold in the United States was a 4xe plug-in hybrid.  According to this Automotive News report, this number increased to one-in-three in the first quarter of 2023 (albeit, partially due to federal tax incentive rules changing). It’s actually this country’s best-selling PHEV. The Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe went on sale late last year, and they represented about 13% of all Grand Cherokees sold through March of this year.

This isn’t just an American phenomenon. The biggest seller of electrified cars in the world isn’t Tesla, it’s Chinese company BYD. In 2022, they sold 911,141 electric cars. You know what they sold more of? Per InsideEVs, BYD managed to move 946,238 PHEVs, which was a 247% year-over-year increase. [Editor’s note: BYD is weird and tends to mix PHEVs and range-extender cars with its “electric vehicle” numbers, while we in the West tend to draw a harder line between the two. -PG]

Byd Qin

[Editor’s Note: Matt alludes to this later, but I’ll mention it anyway: Though it may seem counterintuitive, buying a high-range fully-electric car could be worse for the environment than buying a hybrid, especially if you’re only commuting a short distance daily. Buying a 180 kWh Rivian R1T and driving that 33 miles everyday could be dirtier than buying a plug-in hybrid with a smaller battery whose EV-only range aligns more with your daily commute. That’s because with the Rivian, you’d be carrying over 1,000 pounds of dirty-to-create lithium-ion batteries around for really no reason (I suppose you’d have to charge less frequently), as you just need a battery probably not much bigger than 1/10th that size to handle your daily duties.

Of course, as you took your occasional 100+ mile weekend road trips using the onboard gas motor, the high-mileage EV Rivian would eventually become cleaner (and indeed, this is how most Americans drive their cars — it’s more than just short around-town driving), but it’s also worth considering the question: From a mineral-resource standpoint, does it make more sense to sell a single $100,000 truck with a 180 kWh battery, or does it make more sense to split that 180 kWh battery into sixteen 11kWh batteries (the same size as the Niro PHEV’s) and get 16 families out of gas-only cars and into cheap hybrids, commuting to and from work daily using only electric power? Of course, for any of these questions to even be worth asking, PHEV users can’t go on long gas-powered road trips all the time, and they have to actually charge their cars. This second point is important, because a PHEV can actually be worse for the environment than a gas car if folks don’t leverage its electric-only capabilities; perhaps there should be some kind of software requirement that makes it difficult to use a PHEV as a gas-only car everyday? I really don’t know, but I love PHEVs nonetheless. I own one with a tiny 22 kWh battery, and rarely ever use the gas range extender. For my use-case and on my budget, I think it’s the cleanest automotive option that provides me with piece-of-mind should I need to travel a few miles over 80 on an occasional weekend. -DT]. 

ADVERTISEMENT

There’s a wide range of options for plug-in hybrid vehicles in the United States if what you want is a crossover, small hatch, sedan, or supercar. The best value is probably the $32,000 Toyota Prius Prime, though it doesn’t qualify for any federal tax credits. If you want a tax credit, the Ford Escape PHEV qualifies for $3,750 of federal incentives and returns a good 37 miles of range.

What we lack in the United States is a plug-in hybrid pickup truck and something more affordable, like the BYD Qin, which retails for about $20,000 in China. If an automaker can produce a sub $30k, reasonable PHEV that qualifies for at least half of the federal tax incentives I think it would be a hit. I feel similarly about a PHEV pickup that’s under $50,000.

The problem is that signs show this type of car may be in decline, unfortunately. About one in four cars Toyota/Lexus sells is a hybrid, but only three of their U.S. cars are of the plug-in kind.

Few other automakers are willing to get into this market if they aren’t already because they think it’s more cost-effective to “skip a step” and go straight to EVs. Considering the costs involved, it’s tough to blame them. And on the buyer side, battery EV demand and ownership is rising fast while the same for hybrids and PHEVs is either peaking or declining.

That’s a shame. Almost everyone outside of urban apartment dwellers could make great use of a PHEV. Their smaller battery packs are a net benefit because they utilize fewer precious metals to build and require less energy to fully charge while delivering enough electric mileage for most people. PHEVs can train drivers to think about their commutes and optimize for efficiency as opposed to just convenience. In the case of both the Wrangler 4xe and S60 Recharge, the plug-in hybrid versions are more capable vehicles than their purely gas counterparts. And despite what some studies say, they are phenomenal at reducing emissions—which we should all care about—versus their all-gas counterparts, not just saving on fuel costs. If drivers actually charge them and use them right, of course.

ADVERTISEMENT

I think most people, eventually, will switch to purely electric cars, but we’re not as close to that day as many people would like to think. This great country was built on clever and well-intentioned stopgap solutions. I don’t see why this should be any different, and if we’re in this bridge phase, I’d like to see more automakers step up and fill that need.

Photos: Author, Joel Johnson, all the good ones: Mark Loper/FCP Euro

Popular Stories

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
147 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Slower Louder
Slower Louder
1 year ago

Thank you Mr. Matt. More of this please. Would love to see driving impressions of any number of the current PHEVs.

When I woke up this morning, I was thinking, what we need is a Volvo 240 wagon EV; the solidity, the practicality, but with less of the “luxury,” and, frankly, with no need for the 500 hp, so I could still get what I love from Volvos without the 70-80k expenditure.

And on the topic of luxury: I see the note from Tracy about the Niro, “I don’t know if I quite agree, but it does look interesting.” Put the man in a used i3 for a few days, suddenly a lot of pretty nice cars are “I don’t know if I quite agree…” Dude, reel in that extended pinky!

90sBuicksAreUnderrated
90sBuicksAreUnderrated
1 year ago

Matt, this is one of the most nuanced well balanced, thoughtful articles I’ve read about the upcoming EV/PHEV transition and how to best approach it. It doesn’t gloss over the fact that drastic action is needed now, while taking a pragmatic approach to what’s feasible now in the current environment with the current infrastructure. Well done, sir.

It’s honestly a shame that these never caught on earlier. If we’d had the leadership and foresight in the U.S. to do a dual carrot (tax credit while the technology was in its infancy) and stick (higher fuel economy standards) 15-20 years ago, I feel like the technology would be affordable and ubiquitous among commuter cars by this point, and the fleet would be much more efficient while we build out EV manufacturing/infrastructure.

Unfortunately we’ve seriously lagged and are pretty far behind the eight ball, so I understand the urgency some governments/automakers have behind full BEVs. The optimism is great, but the harsh realities and obstacles also have to be considered. But what do I know, no one pays me the big bucks to make these decisions. I’m just a dude with three old and/or high-mileage ICE vehicles commenting on a car website.

Mr. Canoehead
Mr. Canoehead
1 year ago

While its 0-60 mph time in the mid-7-second range isn’t great,

In 1983, I bought my first new car, a Mustang GT. It was just about the fastest thing on the road and clocked 0-60 in 7.0s, according to Car and Driver. Now a PHEV economy car has the same performance and we complain that it’s not great…..

LTDScott
LTDScott
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr. Canoehead

My 1985 LTD was the fastest American sedan of its day with 0-60 in the 8-second range. Times have changed.

3WiperB
3WiperB
1 year ago

Yes. I loved my 2014 Volt, I love our 2021 BMW 330e. My parents love their CT6 PHEV. I hope we keep getting them. They work so well for us and cut our gas use down by 80-90 percent. Even if charging infrastructure improves, it’s still often cheaper to buy gas on long trips than pay 40 cents or more per Kwh at a public charger. I pay 12 cents per Kwh to charge at home overnight.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
1 year ago

Great article, Matt. Well written, concise, informative. However I found it lacking in details about the babka.

FUCK YOU
FUCK YOU
1 year ago

The V60 Recharge is literally my dream car. It’s sadly well out of my price range, but maybe someday. They’re a pretty rare car—not a lot of people are buying them, for whatever reason—but there’s one I see around town from time to time. Whoever that is, they’ve got great taste.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago

My employer won’t require me to buy a new car for about 3 years, but, if Dodge came out with a RWD Hurricane PHEV Charger tomorrow, I’d be at the Stellantis House of Brands dealership to buy one tomorrow. Not idle Internet “brown diesel manual wagon” talk, I’d already have one in the driveway right now if it existed. Ideally in F8 Green, but I’m not terribly picky. Would prefer a hybrid Challenger, but the company I work for doesn’t allow employees to have 2-door cars

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

“Would prefer a hybrid Challenger, but the company I work for doesn’t allow employees to have 2-door cars”

WTF, Are you serious?

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
1 year ago

Also, don’t hybrids miostly use NiMH batteries? These cost less than lithium ion and have fewer negatives associated with them.

Too bad we don’t have more range extended EV’s like the i3 Rex. Even a small range extender made from a Briggs and Stratton lawn mower engine would work LOL

Inthemikelane
Inthemikelane
1 year ago
Reply to  Dogisbadob

I’ve got a 2015 Fusion PHEV, and it’s a lithium ion battery. Don’t know about others though.

Bhtooefr
Bhtooefr
1 year ago
Reply to  Dogisbadob

Nowadays, AFAIK, NiMH typically costs more due to the sheer volume that’s gone into Li-ion, if you’re buying off the shelf. (Toyota is the only one left using NiMH, AFAIK, and they’re not buying their NiMH cells off the shelf (instead getting custom ones), and even they use Li-ion in more efficiency-sensitive applications.)

However, the fire risk is *much* much lower, and they work better than Li-ion in hybrid applications (not PHEV or EV, where it’s plugged in often and can be preheated) in cold weather (so Toyota is mostly using them on vehicles sold into cold markets).

First Last
First Last
1 year ago

My takeaway from this article is that gasoline and electricity go together like milk and cookies.

Automotiveflux
Automotiveflux
1 year ago

EVs may be the future by Hybrids and PHEVs are the now

Steve Pugh
Steve Pugh
1 year ago
Reply to  Automotiveflux

Ironically, isn’t this what Toyota had been saying for the past several years? and getting roasted for not having enough/any EV’s?

Root
Root
1 year ago

I’ve had a 2016 X5 PHEV for nearly 4 years now, and am completely sold on PHEV. I wish we had more choices.

One thing I didn’t expect is that the 100-ish hp electric motor is more than adequate to move that big SUV around. I’m a relatively fast driver and almost always first away from a light, and to my surprise the available power in EV mode is absolutely sufficient for my driving style around town (under 45mph speed limit streets). I never understood the contemporary reviews that complained about the X5 PHEV being under-powered, as I’ve never once found it lacking for power, even in high-speed passing situations on 2-lane roads (obviously with the gasoline engine doing most of the work in that case).

It’s not all great. I have plenty of nuts to pick with my X5, but I’m very happy with the power train*

* well, except for the reliability of the gas part.

Root
Root
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

Haha, no. I live in a small city in the Midwest. Most of my day-to-day driving is well within the very limited electric-only range of the X5. During 2020, I only drove about 1,500 miles (pandemic WFH) but made it from March until November on one tank of gas! Even now I drive it about 4k mi/yr and fill it with gas about every-other month.

My X5 is the older F15 generation (my ’16), so it’s got the N20 turbo 4cyl. Thankfully it was a CPO car (lease return, I’m assuming), so when the turbo went bad at 48k miles it was replaced for free. Same with the leaking air suspension. And the iDrive head unit. And then the iDrive head unit was replaced again. Thanks to concierge service I got to drive a lot of other new BMWs while mine was in the shop (how’s that for glass half-full?). But that’s a lot of problems for a vehicle with less than 60k miles. Now it’s out of warranty so I’m keeping my eyes open for the next thing in case something else major goes wrong (*knocks wood*). Given the reliability issues I’ve had, I’m not too sure about the newer G05 generation X5 45e – I’ll probably see what else is out there (Volvo is more reliable, right? lol). I would really like to have the longer range of some of the newer models, as 16 miles (when it’s warm out) is just barely enough – something with 30+ miles of EV range would be much better.

In 2021 my kiddo and I took a 3,000+ mile trip to southern Arizona and back in it, and it was an awesome road-trip car. Nothing offroad, but chose to do only about 2/3 of the trip via Interstate. The car did great on two-lanes and in the mountains, with plenty of passing power. I even managed to charge up overnight from 110v outlets at our hotels for a little extra boost to the mileage, which was acceptable given the size and performance of the vehicle. Did struggle to find high-octane fuel in the middle of eastern Colorado, but not the car’s fault.

What else do you want to know about it? I’m not here to say it’s the best car in the world, but I’ve been pretty happy with it for my particular use-case.

3WiperB
3WiperB
1 year ago
Reply to  Root

Interesting. Sorry you’ve had so many issues. My biggest concern with the 330e was reliability. I did the CPO thing too so I have 3 years of unlimited warranty with the car at least and 6 years left on the traction battery. Hopefully I’ll have a good idea after those 3 years how things are going to be. The reliability of the B46/48 engine seems to be pretty good so far from what I read. I’m barely using it. The previous leaser didn’t have any repair history, but they only put 12,000 miles on it, and under 4,000 of these were gas. So far, it’s been great, but I’m only 3 weeks in. My previous Volt was flawless over the 5 years I had it, and it was nearly 8 years old at that point.

3WiperB
3WiperB
1 year ago
Reply to  Root

It’s the same in our 330e. That little 112hp electric motor is perfectly adequate and even feels peppy off the line. If we want all the power, we just put it in Sport mode or Xtra Boost. We are 3 weeks into ownership and have used just 5 gallons of gas. The most interesting thing to me in comparison to my Volt is that the electric motor is in between the engine and transmission, so it actually shifts gears while using electric only. That said, it’s a very smooth drivetrain and it’s hard to feel the shifts and very hard to tell the transitions between gas and electric operation.

Maybe in addition to member rides, we could do detailed reviews of interesting member cars by members. I know I could go into stupid amounts of detail about the way our 330e works. I’d read reviews by members about their unusual cars, especially PHEV and EV’s.

Root
Root
1 year ago
Reply to  3WiperB

I hope your 330e serves you well. I consider myself a BMW fan (have owned several, including 2 currently, and have been a 20+ year CCA member), but I’m definitely not satisfied with the problems I’ve had with the X5 even though the CPO warranty has covered nearly everything. I’d be very curious if the newer generation PHEVs like your 330e or the G05 X5 are any better or more reliable. It sounds like you’re having a great experience with it so far. I agree with your idea about member stories of “interesting” cars – I’d love to hear more about how your 330e works for you over time.

JaredTheGeek
JaredTheGeek
1 year ago

Plug-In Hybrids Are Electric Cars With None Of The Anxiety
What anxiety? I daily one and road trip in it without any anxiety. I put in my destination and go. PHEV is a compromise that doesn’t need to exist. BEV is sufficiently advanced at this point it’s not an issue.

Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
1 year ago
Reply to  JaredTheGeek

I agree if you are talking about larger cities. I tend to disagree if you are talking about anywhere else. I am a huge fan of BEV’s, and believe they are the future, but this is ignoring the infrastructure problems. If you live in the America’s and don’t own a Tesla, finding working chargers that work for long trips is not that easy.

An example:
My aunt and uncle own a MachE in Saskatchewan, and it’s great for the local trips to town for groceries and such. But it suffers when the temps drop into the negative 20 to 30 degree range, the battery draw for heating pull is massive. That means trips to my cousins in Saskatoon is a little dicey.
So they end up taking their truck on the longer trips in the winter. Because if they get stuck somewhere, someone can bring fuel to them and they can move on.

That example is not a lone case for those in more rural areas. Now with a PHEV, it could deal with their short range trips on electric, and switch to the range extender/gas engine for the longer trips. My Volt for example would have no issue (besides the massive decrease in usable space).

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Wyman
Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Wyman

Chargers are even hard to come by in some larger cities. Looking at data on plugshare, there are currently 8 functional level 3 CCS charging stations in my county that has a population of nearly 1,000,000. Tesla drivers don’t have it any easier – there are only 3 supercharger stations here.

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Wyman

Yeah, I take trips to the middle of nowhere. Unless Farmer Bob is going to let me plug in to his 120v for 10 hours, there is nowhere to refuel. And certainly not “fast charging”.

You will find a gas station though, and be back on the road in 5 minutes.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Wyman

Hell, both my sisters have BEVs and life in the SF Bay Area, and it’s not great even there if you can’t charge at home. They are always calling me because they’re driving around the Whole Foods parking lot looking for an available charging spot …

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

I’m curious where you live and where you take road trips. I presume you are aware that your experience is unique, and that functional public chargers are hard to come by in a lot of places.

Wuffles Cookie
Wuffles Cookie
1 year ago
Reply to  JaredTheGeek

Bad take. Most of the country west of the Mississippi (and plenty of points east) has road tripping distances that far exceed even the longest EV range. Much of the country has winter temps that drop low enough to seriously cripple EV range. This is not some imagined anxiety, it is simply a fact, and a fact that will lead to people owning multiple cars when one would otherwise do. And finally, you missed the whole point about hauling around a much bigger, heavier, high footprint battery than what you need for most daily driving is not very eco.

V10omous
V10omous
1 year ago
Reply to  JaredTheGeek

You must live in Hawaii or something

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
1 year ago
Reply to  JaredTheGeek

Try driving 100 miles in the middle of a snow storm at 6 degrees F with 60 mph gusting winds.

That’s a scenario that can happen at any time and at least a few times a year. Now, put your wife, son or daughter in the drivers seat and tell me there is no anxiety.

ignorant

Detroit-Lightning
Detroit-Lightning
1 year ago

I’m really curious as to what this PHEV RAM is going to be – in terms of battery size, and what either the range extender / ICE motor looks like. They won’t be able to sacrifice power with the range extending/ICE portion – so i just wonder how that will work, and how efficient it will be.

3WiperB
3WiperB
1 year ago

I just hope it happens. I’m glad they are still talking about it. It’s something that will set them apart if they offer it. No-one else is doing a PHEV truck. When I’m towing a camper, I’m going to places off the beaten path that don’t have charging infrastructure, and most of that infrastructure isn’t set up for trucks towing trailers. EV’s just are not going to get good range for towing. I know this from towing with gas. I get 22 mpg in my RAM with no trailer and 11-12 with my camper. If I can use EV for my commute and still get 11-12mpg for pulling a camper with a range extender, that’s still going to save me hundreds of gallons of gas a year. If they keep a buffer in the battery for acceleration and hills, it wouldn’t need to be that big of an engine.

Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
1 year ago

I have a Gen 2 Volt and I keep waiting for someone to come up with a PHEV with a similar range. I mean, 30-40 miles is solid for most driving, but when it comes to winter, that range drops significantly. The 60 mile range on the Gen 2 Volt is great, and in winter it also drops significantly, but still gives you 40ish miles, which is still plenty for most days.

Turn the Page
Turn the Page
1 year ago

Yes Matt, I fully agree with your points on why PHEVs make sense as a transition/longer-term plan to a mostly-EV future. When friends and family ask for my advice regarding EVs, I recommend a PHEV for the 5-15 year horizon. In addition to your points, I’ll add that current battery technology and electric motors require mining and component sourcing that affect health & safety, human rights, social justice issues, and national security issues that conflict with my values. While a PHEV requires these same minerals and elements as an EV, it is in lesser quantities. Through intelligent engineering and continuous improvement, these issues can be minimized going forward.

JaredTheGeek
JaredTheGeek
1 year ago
Reply to  Turn the Page

But oil doesn’t conflict with your values?

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
1 year ago
Reply to  JaredTheGeek

Oh please. When has man’s need for oil ever caused human suffering?

(biggest /s in history, in case that wasn’t clear)

Camp Fire
Camp Fire
1 year ago

Nice summary!

I’m still disappointed the Voltec platform was discontinued. It filled this gap quite well. If GM had followed through on its promise to deliver a 7-seat Voltec, I would quite likely have owned one by now.

As it is, I’m still waiting.

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
1 year ago

Absolutely agree with this and I keep coming back to a PHEV making the most sense for my next vehicle. My brother just got a Grand Cherokee 4xE for his fiancée and they love it.

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

Right now not as often as they’d like. They recently relocated for work, new house is almost done and they’re in an apartment. But he said every few nights they plug in, when they can get a spot that allows it. The new house is being built with level 2 chargers in the garage for 2 vehicles.

Last edited 1 year ago by TXJeepGuy
A. Barth
A. Barth
1 year ago
Reply to  TXJeepGuy

My brother just got a Grand Cherokee 4xE for his fiancée

That’s an interesting swap. 🙂

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
1 year ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Depends on the fiancee…

The Dude
The Dude
1 year ago

Toyota or Honda, please offer a PHEV variant of your vans! I had a Pacifica PHEV for a week and it was an awesome vehicle! The only problem? Long term Chrysler reliability.

I’ll buy a Toyota or Honda, maybe a Kia (though I have reservations earth how they’re treating customers lately) PHEV van tomorrow if they release one.

Healpop
Healpop
1 year ago
Reply to  The Dude

I’m in the same boat. I really want a PHEV van, but the reliability ratings on the Pacifica hybrid are awful. Stuffing the powertrain from the RAV4 Prime into the Sienna seems like a no brainer

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago
Reply to  Healpop

“Stuffing the powertrain from the RAV4 Prime into the Sienna seems like a no brainer”

I thought stuffing the powertrain from a Prius into a Gen1 Scion xB was a no brainer too. Never happened though.

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
1 year ago
Reply to  The Dude

They wouldn’t be able to keep either a Sienna or Highlander PHEV on the lot.

Especially with Siennas hard to get, I keep looking at the Pacific and PHEV Pacifica and just keep going…$60k on a Chrysler…can’t do it.

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
1 year ago

Plug in hybrids have always struck me as the perfect compromise between EVs and ICE vehicles. EVs aren’t going to be able to replace 100% of vehicles any time soon, but PHEVs could replace 100% of vehicles right now. Other than expense, I see no downside.

I really want a PHEV, but I’m not fond of the options available right now. That Volvo looks incredibly cool (incidentally, that is a phrase I never thought I would ever say), but I like the utility of a pickup truck. If someone ever built a pickup that could tow 6,000 lbs., had at least 25 miles of EV only range, and had a bed that was at least 6 feet long, I would absolutely buy it.

Data
Data
1 year ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

You’re clearly in the Upside Down with the Demogorgons. I think you could get any two of those three things, but not all three. That 6 foot bed seems like a pipe dream in modern crew cab trucks. A PHEV Maverick is probably coming, but won’t tow 6,000 pounds or have a 6 foot bed. The lightning is fully electric and doesn’t have a 6 foot bed. I think your best bet is if the PHEV Ranger materializes, but again I wouldn’t expect a 6 foot bed on it.

Last edited 1 year ago by Data
Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
1 year ago
Reply to  Data

Yeah, the 6 foot bed requirement makes things difficult (or else I’d buy a Gladiator 4xe). A PHEV Ranger would be great, but it probably would only be sold as a crew cab/short bed. I imagine any F150 PHEV would also be a crew cab/short bed as well. I’m not sure why manufacturers think electrification and a useful bed are mutually exclusive, but that appears to be the case.

My pipe dream truck is an F350 Tremor powerstroke PHEV. I would emissions delete it to have the only PHEV capable of rolling coal.

Bhtooefr
Bhtooefr
1 year ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

The only things I can think of are… most people buying pickups aren’t using them for work, and therefore want more cab and less bed. And, the longer cab means aerodynamic targets are easier to hit for the automaker, improving range.

Jason Smith
Jason Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

When F1 went to the turbo hybrid V6 powertrains, trucks and overland trucking seemed like the best road relevant application.
Electric boost to help get a heavy load moving; a fast boosting turbo engine for maximum efficiency when up to speed; ERS to recover all that energy otherwise wasted as heat from braking.

I’m overly simplifying a lot, but those would all seem like really great things for trucks.

V10omous
V10omous
1 year ago
Reply to  Data

Every single full-size and HD crew cab truck offers a 6+ foot bed as at least an option. Not sure what you mean by a “pipe dream”.

A. Barth
A. Barth
1 year ago

The Wrangler 4xe actually has two motors, with one connected to the 2.0-liter motor to provide additional torque

This would be an excellent time to get people to refer to the reciprocating-piston-device as an engine and use motor to identify the electric-rotating-device.

JDE
JDE
1 year ago
Reply to  A. Barth

The word engine derives from Old French engin, from the Latin ingenium–the root of the word ingenious.

Motor and engine are interchangeable in standard English. however in engineering jargons, the two words have different meanings, we consider the engine a device that burns or otherwise consumes fuel, changing its chemical composition, and a motor as a device driven by electricity, air, or hydraulic pressure.

However, rocketry uses the term rocket motor, even though they consume fuel.

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

Motor and engine may be used interchangeably with cars, but it would be a hell of a lot less confusing if we all just agree that “engine” means internal combustion and “motor” means electric.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
1 year ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

Does that mean we have to start referring to Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, etc. as search motors?

Stig's Cousin
Stig's Cousin
1 year ago

Not sure, but I will ask jeeves when I get a chance.

A. Barth
A. Barth
1 year ago
Reply to  Stig's Cousin

And that’s really where I was going with it.

I gave up ages ago on trying to get people to use the terms in the engineering sense, but now drawing the distinction will genuinely be helpful instead of just the result some nerdish ranting. 🙂

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago
Reply to  A. Barth

“Engine” vs. “Motor” I can handle. The common definition of “organic”, the Pokemon definition of “evolution” and the marketing definition of “synthetic” (using non-synthesized base III oils) however drive me absolutely bonkers.

And don’t get me started on calling a tomato a vegetable!

A. Barth
A. Barth
1 year ago
Reply to  Matt Hardigree

No worries – that was definitely not a dig at you. It’s more about the nature of the larger conversation and how we should have a good way to differentiate ICE from electric clearly and succinctly.

Last edited 1 year ago by A. Barth
JDE
JDE
1 year ago

I mean Hybrid vehicles have been pretty much mainstream for 23 years or so. Plug in variants for half that time. the 4Xe Jeep is available in more than the wrangler package and I agree it seems like the perfect choice, but apparently commodity of scale pricing has not kicked in yet as they don’t offer a low option version for less money. the last Gen Volt was pretty decent, but even then it seemed like a lot of price for not as much ROI. and then their is still the stigma of battery life. I have seen very nice Hybrid SUV’s from the early 2000’s that many just walk on by because they know the relatively small battery in those will still cost a small fortune to replace if anyone will actually replace them locally at all.

Jalop Gold
Jalop Gold
1 year ago
Reply to  JDE

There is a great small shop by me that does all kinds of hybrid replacements. It’s not that expensive for the Tahoe or Aspen, but it’s not a great system.

Bearddevil
Bearddevil
1 year ago

The S60 or S90 PHEV is going to be the next expensive car that I buy. I’ve been sold on the Volvo seats for a long time now, and as mentioned, they are total sleepers. I really wish that more Volvo dealers would order them with the textile seats instead of leather, as that’s what I really, really want, and I don’t want to buck up for a new one to order it from scratch.

Drew
Drew
1 year ago

I’ve been sold on PHEVs for some time. I currently daily a Niro PHEV (not the new one, which is tempting for the small amount of extra space and the additional power, but not worth the expense). I would love to see everything offered as a PHEV (at least everything where it is practical to do so).

That said, it is taking too long for manufacturers to figure out the messaging for them. As you mentioned, with bans on new ICE vehicles coming, it’s a little late to get the right messaging out there. Which is too bad.

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
1 year ago
Reply to  Drew

Has your Niro been reliable? I see Hyundai has some engine issues, wonder how well they implement a PHEV system.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago

Hybrids of one sort of another should have been the default standard for basically all cars and light trucks for like 10-15 years now, always thought it was a little weird that they never really caught on outside of a few specific market segments, even during the “omg, gas prices are crazy right now” panics that happen with almost predictable regularity every couple years or so for the past 20 years

JDE
JDE
1 year ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

it was all about excessive price and the big battery replacement costs 5-10 years down the road.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago
Reply to  JDE

The battery replacement issue hasn’t panned out to be as big of a problem as expected, and the high price argument seems silly in the era when people shell out $40-$50k for new crossovers or $70+k for new pickups like it’s nothing, and a Prius still starts under $30k

JDE
JDE
1 year ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

the people that buy used cars with 80K mile or more do in fact care about battery replacement. most Gas Engines can get to 150K without really serious repairs if maintained. the Prius battery in a first gen hybrid, not plug in refurb only, because new ones do not exist is $1200 minimum. That is assuming they are handy and not afraid electrocution. install cost doubles this if you can find a mechanic that will do it.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
1 year ago

Spot-on. In a lot of cases, the plugin is the best of both worlds.

But I have to pick nits with your comment “density is good”. It’s good from certain standpoints- like transportation pollution. But it’s absolutely terrible for water quality.
One person’s “suburban sprawl” is another person’s “good stormwater management”.

JDE
JDE
1 year ago

my biggest nit is the suggestion that everyone living in 4 season areas of the world should use a bicycle or ride a bus and then walk the last few miles to work. That seems very shortsighted and Jalop Ralph Orlove rhetoric.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
1 year ago

Let’s not forget the spread of viruses. 2020 discouraged me from ever wanting to live in a high-density high-rise.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago

Eh, as long as you wear a full biohazmat suit in the common areas and install a decontamination shower in your entry hall you’ll be fine…

Defenestrator
Defenestrator
1 year ago

Per capita, sprawl is significantly worse than density in terms of total impermeable surface. It “feels” better because less of it’s visible at a time, but the extra people don’t just stop needing a place to live, so there’s way more of it.

1 2 3
147
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x