Daryl Elliott’s 2020 CleanTechnica article “The PHEV Era Needs to End, Now” makes some compelling arguments that the Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle (PHEV) bridge technology to Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) has run its course and those of us who are in the segment of early adopters should leave this crutch behind.

First, What’s a Plug-In Hybrid?
A plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV), also called a range-extended electric vehicle, is a car that has an electric drive train, a battery, and a small combustion engine that recharges the battery when it has become depleted. The US Alternative Fuels Data Center has an excellent description and details. A PHEV is a car that can drive as a pure electric vehicle for 20-50 miles depending on its battery size and driving habits and can be plugged in to recharge the battery. The difference between this and a BEV is that there is a backup combustion engine that kicks in when the battery is empty and at that point the car acts like a series hybrid and can run on gasoline to generate electricity for the electric motor. There’s no need to have range anxiety if you have access to the still well-established gas station infrastructure.

Even in 2023, there are still use cases for PHEVs.

Starter Vehicles
Sure, there are more “affordable” BEVs today that start in the mid-$20,000 range, but that’s still not in reach for many Americans, especially those who prefer to ease into EVs. In terms of plug-in vehicles, the Chevrolet Volt and Ford C-Max are great options for someone working within a specific budget.

Long Distance Towing
Dodge and Ford have announced PHEV versions of their RAM and Ranger pickup trucks. One would think that with fully electric F-150 Lightnings already on the road and the Chevy Silverado not far behind, that the age of BEV pickups was here already.

However, if you do a significant amount of long-distance towing, the combination of towing efficiency and maximum charging power on the early BEV trucks will still make for long charging stops when hauling a trailer. Once you figure in towing, EV ranges are often cut in half with a large trailer.

According to Green Car Reports, Dodge’s Ramcharger will still have a significantly large 92 kWh battery with an impressive 145-mile electric range. The V6 range extender is expected to boost that range another 545 miles.

According to the Driving Line article, the Ford Ranger PHEV takes a slightly different approach with a smaller battery for 25 miles of electric range and the 2.3L EcoBoost engine.

While PHEV technology is now relatively mature, this is the first time we’ve seen pickup trucks get a plug-in hybrid drivetrain that lets customers take advantage of the fuel cost and environmental advantages of driving electric.

As Driving Line says: “Whether you are looking for a stop gap until charging infrastructure and battery tech make EV trucks sensible workhorses, or you just want a versatile, efficient and powerful truck for work or play, pickups like the Ranger PHEV could be the solution for a lot of buyers.”

Introduction to BEVs
While driving an EV is just like a regular car (only with better performance), learning how charging works is an adjustment at first. However, once drivers experience the advantages of driving electric like making expensive gas refueling stops less often, charging in the comfort of your own garage, and fewer maintenance visits, they often find themselves looking to BEVs as their next vehicle.

Since PHEVs still have a combustion engine, you will still need to do some additional maintenance just like you would with any gas vehicle. That means the car will need oil changes, tune-ups, belts, hoses, and a few other maintenance tasks associated with the engine. However, the more you drive in electric mode, the less you will need that service which makes the transition to a future EV even easier.

Add Home Charging and Take Advantage of Rebates
Customers with PHEVs can take advantage of our $500 PowerMIDrive home charging installation rebate of a Level 2 charger and the $120 Smart Charging Incentive when they charge at home overnight. If your next vehicle is a BEV, you’ll be ready for that transition as well.

Is a PHEV Right for You?
If you’re ready to dip your toe into driving electric, but aren’t sure about the public charging infrastructure, a plug-in hybrid may just be the transition technology to help you ease into driving electric. Before you know it, you’ll be looking for public charging stations rather than gas stations. Hint: There’s an app for that – PlugShare.