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Are PHEVs Inherently "Compliance Cars"?

igotzzoom

Active Member
May 26, 2013
1,217
610
Mission Viejo, CA
I believe we're going to see some massive changes in the electric car market in the next 5-7 years, among them range, cost and practicality. Which got me to thinking, are plug-in hybrids by definition just compliance cars? After all, aside from the Volt, almost none of them have a range longer than about 20 miles. Once they deplete the electric charge, they're essentially just hybrids or ICE vehicles, and usually less efficient than their non-plugin equivalents in that mode.

Are they being built just to satisfy government regulations until battery technologies support ranges of more than 200 miles in affordable, mainstream electrics? Personally, I don't see a very compelling reason to buy any PHEV right now other than possibly the Volt. They're heavier than their ICE or hybrid equivalents, usually have a smaller cargo and/or passenger area, and as noted, after the charge is depleted, usually less efficient than their conventional hybrid equivalent. What do you all think?
 

liuping

Active Member
Jul 23, 2013
2,243
923
San Diego
I believe we're going to see some massive changes in the electric car market in the next 5-7 years, among them range, cost and practicality. Which got me to thinking, are plug-in hybrids by definition just compliance cars? After all, aside from the Volt, almost none of them have a range longer than about 20 miles. Once they deplete the electric charge, they're essentially just hybrids or ICE vehicles, and usually less efficient than their non-plugin equivalents in that mode.

Are they being built just to satisfy government regulations until battery technologies support ranges of more than 200 miles in affordable, mainstream electrics? Personally, I don't see a very compelling reason to buy any PHEV right now other than possibly the Volt. They're heavier than their ICE or hybrid equivalents, usually have a smaller cargo and/or passenger area, and as noted, after the charge is depleted, usually less efficient than their conventional hybrid equivalent. What do you all think?
Since many are available in all 50 states and other countries, I would not call the compliance cars.
 

Saghost

Well-Known Member
Oct 9, 2013
8,224
7,088
Delaware
What rules are you thinking they were built to comply with?

In the past, the term compliance car has been used for a pretty specific situation - cars that are being sold in limited numbers in only the CARB states for the specific purpose of preventing the manufacturer from receiving fines for the CARB ZEV mandate.

A PHEV is a very poor choice for this purpose. The ZEV mandate gives far fewer credits for a PHEV than an EV of similar range, and you have greater costs connected with building the engine and transmission as well.

As liuping said, I'm not aware of any PHEV that is sold exclusively in California (or the other CARB states.) So I think it fails the traditional definition.

In a broader sense you may have a point, with other rules. I think a lot of companies are looking at PHEVs as a way to meet the next couple of increases in CAFE fleet average fuel mileage, and I am pretty sure a few of them are sized specifically to meet the minimum requirement to avoid congestion charges in the EU inner cities.
Walter
 

lphe

Member
Mar 18, 2015
108
0
Eagan, MN
93% of the trips that I make with my PHEV are well within its 25 mile EV range. My commute to work is 8 miles. For such short trips, a pure hybrid looses much of is efficiency advantage to pure ICE vehicles. A PHEV is much more efficient for short trips.

On my 60 mile commutes, I use about half the gas of a pure hybrid version of the car. I have made comparisons of my PHEV (in hybrid mode with a discharged battery) to a hybrid version of my car in both city and highway driving. A friend and I drove the same routes at the same time. I achieved higher mileage with my PHEV than the pure hybrid. The main reason was the hybrid had less efficient 18" tires over my low rolling resistance 17" tires. But in general, the difference in mileage between the PHEV and the pure hybrid is not that significant. I can't comment on the GM Volt, since I am not familiar with it.

My total yearly fuel costs (both electricity and gas) are $550/year. I drive about 11,500 miles/year. If I had a pure hybrid, the annual fuel costs would be significantly higher.

There are other advantages to a PHEV over a pure hybrid. With a PHEV, you can precondition the car in the winter using electricity from a wall outlet. No gas is wasted warming up the car. With a PHEV, you are able to access the car remotely via the internet and download all the trip information from the car. The PHEV is quieter than the hybrid (with more EV miles, especially noticeable in city driving).
 

igotzzoom

Active Member
May 26, 2013
1,217
610
Mission Viejo, CA
Just throwing it out there. I know if your definition of "compliance" car is state-by-state with quantitative limitations, then PHEVs would not qualify. I'm just looking at it from the standpoint of being a compelling buy. If you have a short commute, I could see the appeal. But personally, I'd rather wait a few more years and get a full-fledged BEV with a substantial (200+ mi) range. That makes a lot more sense to me than hauling around a lot of essentially redundant hardware. I guess overall, I'm looking at it more from a consumer perception standpoint.
 

jdbob

Member
Aug 2, 2014
98
23
John Day, OR, USA
93% of the trips that I make with my PHEV are well within its 25 mile EV range. My commute to work is 8 miles.

Exactly. 49 weeks or more of the year I'm just making shopping trips down into town (I work at home) a few times a week. Those are only around 9 miles or so and even with the 600 foot elevation difference I can still make it in winter weather without using the ICE. And that's with a "19" mile range C-Max Energi. The other 2 or 3 weeks I'm on 1000+ mile trips.
 

ggies07

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Nov 8, 2012
3,891
7,790
DFW
I always thought the transition would go gas --> hybrid --> all EV. I thought in 2008 the Volt was a great product, but then I found out about what Tesla was doing. To see a company not only leap frog the hybrid, and we have obviously seen that it works, I do not think automakers should build any new designs for hybrids. The Volt is grandfathered in from point of view, but it's time everyone focus on EVs because Tesla has been showing them that it's possible for 7 years now.
 
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igotzzoom

Active Member
May 26, 2013
1,217
610
Mission Viejo, CA
To be perfectly honest, I'm just expressing my angst waiting for the Model 3. Even used Model S' are out of my budget. The irony is that they (used Model S) will probably be in price parity with the Model 3 when it comes out.
 

ggies07

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Nov 8, 2012
3,891
7,790
DFW
To be perfectly honest, I'm just expressing my angst waiting for the Model 3. Even used Model S' are out of my budget. The irony is that they (used Model S) will probably be in price parity with the Model 3 when it comes out.

hahaha. same here, same here.
 

miimura

Well-Known Member
Aug 21, 2013
6,540
6,351
Los Altos, CA
I think the upcoming PHEVs are absolutely "Compliance Cars". They are being created to meet CO2 reduction targets in Europe and meet CAFE regulations in the US. Those are all regulations which require compliance in the future and PHEV is an easy way to meet the requirements. Mass producing PHEVs will also provide automakers a path to supply chain competence with components that are also required for EVs.
 

lphe

Member
Mar 18, 2015
108
0
Eagan, MN
Just throwing it out there. I know if your definition of "compliance" car is state-by-state with quantitative limitations, then PHEVs would not qualify. I'm just looking at it from the standpoint of being a compelling buy. If you have a short commute, I could see the appeal. But personally, I'd rather wait a few more years and get a full-fledged BEV with a substantial (200+ mi) range. That makes a lot more sense to me than hauling around a lot of essentially redundant hardware. I guess overall, I'm looking at it more from a consumer perception standpoint.

If I were to buy a Model S, then I would need two cars. That is a great deal more hardware redundancy than in a PHEV. The range of a BEV is not going to suit my needs in the winter.
 

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