The Demand to Plug-In Your Car ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: The Demand to Plug-In Your Car

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Demand to Plug-In Your Car

Prius Plug InToyota is worried about the demand for plug-in hybrid cars. Of course, if the price is low enough, anyone would buy a plug-in.

"There is a consumer market at some price-point for plug- ins," Bill Reinert, national manager for advanced vehicle technology at Toyota's U.S. unit, said in an interview yesterday. "We just don't yet know the size of that market."
And I have to say, they may be right to be concerned.

How many people would be willing to spend 5, 10, or even 15 thousand dollars more for car, just for the honor of plugging it in every night? What are the cost savings in fuel and emissions? What about those large, expensive batteries?

The market place would be bigger than for electric cars, that's for sure. Limited in range, electric cars can only go so far without be recharged. Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHEV) are capable of continuing for longer journeys using the gas engine to recharge the battery. That sets their usefulness a lot higher. But still, you would want to find a plug at night, just to take advantage of what you have.

Can you do that when you're visiting with friends or on vacation? What if you leave the car behind for two weeks, what kind of shape will the battery be in when you get back? If you bring your car with you for two weeks and don't plug in your car at all, how will that effect the battery?

What if you live in an apartment building? How are you going to plug in your car?

Will you have to run electricity out to your garage or driveway? If you don't have a garage, what about weather protection for a plug?

If you get home at noon and plug it in then, can you set up a timer to start recharge only at night when the rates go down?

What if you forget to plug it in overnight, how will that effect your performance the next day?

These are practical issues that anyone who considers buying a PHEV will have to face, and as such, are practical considerations the carmakers have to address when trying to guess at how large a PHEV market will be.

To read more about others reaction; GCC and ABG address the same story.

Get Four Free Price Quotes From Yahoo! Autos Hybrid Research and Pricing at Edmunds.com

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The comments on demand for plug-in hybrid seem to be written to scare someone away from the plug-in idea. In my view, the plug-in will be the perfect solution for a large percentage of the population who: 1. Commute to and from the same place most every day, 2. Have the ability to plug in, and 3. Don't normally leave the car sitting for weeks at a time.

Plug-in hybrids have the promise to reduce green house gas impacts by fueling the car with electricity generated (we hope) at a modern facility that minimizes CO2 emissions per KW generated.

At one point in time, the phone company questioned the demand for mobile phones, calling it a niche market at best. Consumer perceptions change quickly when the benefits of a technology are clear.

Mike said...

Absotlutely true. Plug-in cars have a lot of potential for users who are willing to deal with the issues involved, and it would be wrong of Toyota, GM, et al to not address these issues first.

I like hybrid cars (hence the site) but what I like most about them is how little you need to do to keep them up and running everyday. I would not like to own an all electric car. If I'm going on a vacation, I don't want to have to worry about where to plug my car in when I get there, or if I can reach a plug before my charge runs out.

Plug-in Hybrids may bring the best of both worlds together, but I need to see some of the answers to most of these questions before I'll even consider it.

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