Hybrids More Practical Than Pure Electrics

Great interview by Megan McArdle. A lot of people have concluded that gas-electric hybrids make more sense today than pure electrics and so has the market. This is an in-depth explanation of why that is.

Electric Vehicles May Be the Green Car of the Future, But Hybrids Are the Green Car of the Present:

A couple days ago, I wrote that taxing carbon wouldn’t necessarily make electric vehicles economically viable.  Yesterday, I did an interview with Professor Jeremy Michalek of Carnegie Mellon, who has done research into that very question.  The interview has been lightly edited to enhance readability.

JEREMY MICHALEK: The nice thing about small-battery plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (with gasoline backup) is that the battery is relatively small and can potentially pay for itself in fuel cost savings now or in the near future. These vehicles cost a lot less, so we can buy more of them with a given pool of money, and they are more likely to have sustainable market adoption in the near future.

Pure battery electric vehicles are far more dependent on future battery prices dropping to low levels, and we don’t yet know if that will happen. Even if it does happen in the future, starting small is likely the best way to get there.

Think of it this way: If you have a 10-mile battery in a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, then nearly every time you drive the vehicle, you use most of that 10-mile range to displace gasoline. The investment in the battery is well utilized. In contrast, if you have a 40-mile battery, for many shorter trips this investment is nothing but dead weight. Read more of this post