Here Comes the Flood of Plug-In Hybrids


Last week, the Biden administration made this point: American cars are really going away electronics.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has finalized a rule, which has been in the works, that will require car manufacturers in the United States to significantly improve the number of battery-powered vehicles sold this decadecausing great trouble in the country carbon dioxide in the way. By 2032, more than half of new cars sold should be electric.

Automakers will have a choice in how to meet the government’s new emissions targets, thanks to changes made between when the regulations were first introduced in their form nearly a year ago and now. One big, important change: Plug-in hybrids is part of the picture.

By writing the law, the auto industry can only meet emission targets by selling more electric vehicles. But at the behest of automakers and unions, all of whom argued that the EPA’s proposal was unworkable, manufacturers are now allowed to use plug-in hybrids to meet the standards.

This means that automakers can now meet federal regulations by ensuring that two-thirds of their sales by 2032 are battery electric—or that battery-electric vehicles make up more than half of their sales, with plug-in hybrids accounting for 13 percent. .

Expect automakers to use these kinds of hybrid vehicles—powered primarily by electric batteries but powered by an electric motor when the batteries run out—as they race to meet the nation’s most ambitious climate goals.

There will be more about this down the road. But the technology has a climate problem: It’s only as airtight as its drivers.

Gateway EV Medicines

In recent months, executives from manufacturers including Audi, BMW, Chinese EV-maker BYD, General Motors, Mercedes, and Volvo. they have suggested that “connected” cars can be the spring that causes more cars and customers in the transition to electricity. And the policy change can be Toyota confirmationwhich is betting that customers will flock to gas-electric hybrids and plug-in hybrids instead of following Tesla down the electric road.

Globally, sales of plug-in hybrids are growing faster than electric cars (although this is because hybrids are expected to catch on). Sales of plug-in hybrids jumped 43 percent between 2022 and 2023, to about 4.2 million, according to figures provided by BloombergNEF, a market research firm. Sales of electric vehicles rose by 28 percent during the same period, to about 9.6 million.

This technology has powerful enhancements. Most US drivers only drive about 30 miles per day, meaning most can get by most days using a plug-in hybrid electric battery, and using gas for longer trips.

Plug-in hybrids also give automakers a bit of a scare, design-wise: They’re more expensive to make than battery-electric vehicles (all things for two cars), but the technology can sometimes be adapted to existing, gas-powered cars. This means a short, short, exciting prospect for a company that needs to restart how it makes its cars and how it makes devices that can make their batteries go in the next few years, as they move towards electricity.



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