EVs Versus PHEVs, Which Will Be Smarter To Own?...

...Oil reserves are depleting - either by actual consumption or by accidental spilling – gas prices are about to rise once again and the recession is probably yet to have claimed all of its automotive victims. There are many solutions to this - let's call it crisis - but so far only two of them have started a full-power charge (yes, pun intended) on each other.

Yes, I'm talking about electric and... electric cars. As many of you know, currently there are two rather different types of electric-powered cars, EV (Electric Vehicles) and PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle). I know what some of you may say, PHEVs are actually hybrids that still use fuel and deliver harmful emissions, right? Well, that's somewhat true, but most EVs aren't exactly emission-less either. They do not have tailpipe emissions, like PHEVs, but electricity has to come from somewhere, right?

Currently, a staggering 80%+ of the energy usage in the world comes from oil, coal and gas. So that's three rather major polluting fossil fuels, the majority of which are used to create the "clean" electric energy that will power up most EVs. PHEVs too, for that matter.

In order to have an idea of which has the most potential to take over ICE-powered cars, let's first take a look at the actual differences between the two types of electric vehicles. Both somewhat mainstream EVs and PHEVs first appeared over a century ago, with a number of Viennese Lohner-Porsches that were powered strictly by batteries.

Currently, EVs have three major disadvantages. They take forever to be charged, there's an obvious lack of charging stations around the world and their range is way too small. PHEVS on the other hand do not depend on having a charging station near you at all times, since they can create the electric energy on board, using the auxiliary ICE (Internal Combustion Engine).

Their main disadvantage relies on the fact that currently they're expensive as hell to manufacture. After all, they are cars using a completely new technology and have two engines on board, of which only one is used to actually power the wheels.

Given the present world situation and rate of battery technology development, I find it a bit unusual that almost everyone's attention is captivated by EVs instead of PHEVs. Let's take a look at two examples, since both vehicles are very near to their start of production.

The Nissan Leaf is an "old-school" electric car, which needs to be recharged in order to keep moving. The upcoming Chevrolet Volt is a plug-in hybrid vehicle, whose range doesn't necessarily depend on finding a power outlet for recharging its batteries.

Some would say that the price is the main detail to be considered when putting the two cars head to head. The Chevrolet Volt will cost $33,500 (with the $7,500 US federal tax included), so that's exactly $8,220 more than the Nissan Leaf. Quite a hefty amount of moolah, but you also get the freedom that comes with a 340 miles (547 kilometers) range instead of the 100 miles (160 km) the Nissan Leaf provides.

Not only that, but the cost difference between the two pretty much disappears considering the Volt can be yours in leasing with $350 a month/$2,500 down payment, while the Leaf is $349 a month with a $1,999 down payment. By the way, both cars have an eight years or 100,000 miles (162,000 km) battery warranty.

Other would argue that the Leaf will be much cheaper to run, since you can plug it in your own power outlet over night and only pay the electricity bills. Also, the Volt's range while not using a single drop of gasoline is only about 40 miles (64 km).

Both prior statements are correct, but let's look at them from a different perspective. According to some studies, the average American drives around 12,000 miles (about 19300 km) per year. That's about 1,000 miles (1600 km) per month, which in turn translates to about 250 miles (402 km) per week or approximately 40 miles (64 km) per day. What an odd coincidence, that's the same number of miles that you can drive the Volt and not using the gasoline ICE on board!

After that distance is covered (more or less, of course) or the Volt's battery level drops under 30%, the ICE kicks in to "manufacture" the electricity that powers the car on board. That will add another 300 miles (483 km) to the car's range, in case you want to use the Volt for more than just commuting to the office and back. Of course, in the future the internal combustion engines onboard PHEVs might become smaller, more efficient and use alternative, greener fuel.

So, with all this said, I would definitely choose a PHEV over en EV in the blink of an eye, but only after the last inline six, flat 6, V8, V10 or V12-powered cars would have left their factory. Of course, that's just me and I'm highly curious about your choice. Will you be an EV or a PHEV driver in the future?


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