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Plug-in Hybrid EVs Must Be Used Correctly for Cost Savings

By Lori Lovely | Mar 19, 2024
Plugged in EV. Image by (Joenomias) Menno de Jong from Pixabay
The environmental and financial advantages of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) depend on regular charging. However, fleet managers are the least likely to plug in PHEVs to maximize their range, which could be costing their bottom line.

Given the resistance to fast electric vehicle adoption, hybrid vehicles are seen as an alternative. On the plus side, they provide better fuel mileage than gasoline-only vehicles, and they don’t cause drivers range anxiety like EVs do.

U.S. sales of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) increased by 20% last year. There are currently more than 860,000 of them now on the roads, and they account for more than 40% of all EVs. Reasons for the surge of PHEVs include federal tax incentives, the promise of reduced fuel consumption and their flexibility. PHEVs also reduce carbon emissions by as much as 30%, saving 1.5 tons annually when used as intended.

However, the environmental and financial advantages depend on regular charging. If drivers who fail to charge their vehicles are forced to use gasoline on a frequent basis, the benefits of the hybrid decrease. According to Kate Harrison, co-founder and head of marketing for MoveEV, fleet managers are the least likely to plug in the cars to maximize their range.

If not used as intended, PHEVs can actually convey disadvantages, environmentally and financially. Their purchase price is higher than gasoline-powered vehicles, as is their environmental footprint due to the materials required to build them. Their heavier bodies also make them less fuel-efficient when running on gas and accelerate tire wear. All of this adds up to making them cost more to run on gasoline, hurting the bottom line for fleet managers.

To combat these deficits, Harrison said, “Companies must adopt a pro-charging approach. Installing charging infrastructure at workplaces, facilitating on-the-go charging, creating a home-first charging policy, and reimbursing employees for home charging are all essential steps. Fleet managers must also educate drivers on maximizing the benefits of their PHEV, and empower them to maintain a full charge of the fleet vehicle whenever possible. By ensuring that PHEVs are charged regularly, companies can truly harness their potential for sustainability.”

She calls out policymakers and corporations, urging them to create incentives for PHEVs that are structured in a way that rewards actual electric usage, rather than just the purchase of the vehicle. Tiered tax breaks based on electric miles driven or subsidies for companies that can demonstrate a high percentage of electric-only usage in their fleet could be methods to encourage what Harrison calls “proper use” of PHEVs.

About The Author

Lori Lovely is an award-winning writer and editor in central Indiana. She writes on technical topics, heavy equipment, automotive, motorsports, energy, water and wastewater, animals, real estate, home improvement, gardening and more. Reach her at: [email protected]


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