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Plug-in hybrids: a reality check

Summary:
We’re seriously considering a hybrid for our next car. One species of the hybrid genus is the “plug-in hybrid,” which seemed appealing to me, both from the standpoint of gas economy and to reduce our carbon footprint. Caveat emptor:“In one study from the ICCT published in 2022, researchers examined real-world driving habits of people in plug-in hybrids. While the method used to determine official emissions values estimated that drivers use electricity to power vehicles 70% to 85% of the time, the real-world driving data suggested that vehicle owners actually used electric mode for 45% to 49% of their driving. And if vehicles were company-provided cars, the average was only 11% to 15%.“The difference between reality and estimates can be a problem for

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We’re seriously considering a hybrid for our next car. One species of the hybrid genus is the “plug-in hybrid,” which seemed appealing to me, both from the standpoint of gas economy and to reduce our carbon footprint. Caveat emptor:

“In one study from the ICCT published in 2022, researchers examined real-world driving habits of people in plug-in hybrids. While the method used to determine official emissions values estimated that drivers use electricity to power vehicles 70% to 85% of the time, the real-world driving data suggested that vehicle owners actually used electric mode for 45% to 49% of their driving. And if vehicles were company-provided cars, the average was only 11% to 15%.
“The difference between reality and estimates can be a problem for drivers, who may buy plug-in hybrids expecting climate benefits and gas savings. But if drivers are charging less than expected, the benefits might not be as drastic as promised. Trips taken in a plug-in hybrid cut emissions by only 23% relative to trips in a conventional vehicle, rather than the nearly three-quarters reduction predicted by official estimates, according to the new analysis.”

The problem isn’t car design, it’s user habits. Drivers need to optimize the electric-to-gasoline ratio to realize the lowest possible carbon consumption.

Since >80% of electricity here in Rhode Island, driving an EV or plug-in hybrid here is about 20% virtue and 80% virtue signaling. Doing the right thing ain’t always easy.
Drivers are the problem with plug-in hybrids

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