What to consider when buying a PHEV

Discussion in 'General' started by Yanni, Sep 5, 2018.

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  1. Yanni

    Yanni Member

    Planning on getting a PHEV in the coming year.

    Each one seems to have a drawback...and since I have not owned a PHEV before I'm trying to figure out what should be most important to me since it seems like I won't get everything i want in one car.

    If you were buying one today, what would be the MOST IMPORTANT thing to YOU and WHY?

    What would you recommend steering away from???

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  3. jeff10236

    jeff10236 Member

    "I'm trying to figure out what should be most important to me since it seems like I won't get everything i want in one car."... That right there is key, what is most important to you. I'm not sure I'd say each has a drawback, just that they are different (you can see them as a drawback, but they, well everything, is a product of compromise between competing needs).

    The BMW- the 600cc engine/generator, and puny gas tank, can be seen as a drawback if you will often drive beyond the number of miles it can go on electric since it can't go far (and it would suck on a long trip). On the other hand, it is primarily an electric car, with the features generally seen on BEV electric cars (longer range, DC fast charging) while it still has a small (fairly unobtrusive) gas tank and engine that takes little space and adds little weight. Gas will separate out with long term storage so on a car that will be primarily driven as an electric car, a very small gas tank is a good thing.

    Cars like the Prius Prime, Kia Niro PHEV and Hyundai Ioniq PHEV don't go very far on electric only. However, they are nearly as efficient when driven as a hybrid as the regular HEV versions. They are absolutely terrific if your commute is within their range, as is the case for many drivers, with good gas mileage (when you switch over) on a trip or if you have a long commute. Of course, they are a little on the small side for a family car, but as a 2nd car, a commuter, or a car for a single person or small family they are terrific.

    The few family sedans with a plug in version (Kia Optima, Hyundai Sonata, Ford Fusion) and luxury sedans and SUVs (Volvo, BMW, etc) have the same range problem as above (and worse in some cases). However, it is still enough for many commutes. The sedans get slightly lower gas mileage than the regular hybrid versions when the range is expended (and much better than the 4cyl gas only versions), so you do get good gas mileage if you have a long commute or drive it on a long trip (not the case with the luxury brands). They are big enough for most American families. Though, all lose some (to quite a bit) of cargo space vs. the regular hybrid or the non-hybrid versions so you may be limited in what you can take (or have to pack very efficiently) if you have a family and you are taking a long trip.

    The Volt and Honda Clarity and somewhere in between. The Volt is smaller like the Prius or Ioniq, but gives you more than 50 miles of range. The Clarity is a mid-sized car with 50ish miles of range (EPA says 47, but I've had mine do 50-54 miles regularly, and many owners report up to 60). The tanks are smallish, but big enough to be useful (I just got gas whenever I stopped for a bathroom break on my 2200 mile round trip to MN from MD). You have a real trunk with decent cargo capacity, and room for a family (in the Clarity, or a young family with the Volt). The main drawback is that they are on the expensive side. They also don't get the stellar (50+ MPG) of the Prius or Ioniq when running as a hybrid.

    So, what do you want out of your car? Do you have a medium to long commute and want a primarily electric car that saves you the range anxiety? Then the BMW may be the way to go. If your commute runs more medium and you want a mostly electric car, go Volt or Clarity. Do you have a short commute but often take long trips so a decent range and the highest possible MPG on hybrid mode matter to you and it is usually just you, or you are a couple (or only have small children)? Then get the Ioniq, Prime or Niro. Need room for your family, go with the PHEV versions of traditional mid-sized sedans, or get the Clarity.

    When I made the choice, I mainly shopped the Ioniq, Niro, Prius Prime, and Clarity. I bought my Honda Clarity. Why? I didn't think about the Volt (I wanted the best reliability I could get so I was leaning Hyundai, which also owns/makes Kia, Toyota or Honda whether I went PHEV, HEV or regular gas car). The Ioniq was near impossible to find around here (most dealers here had one or two HEVs, a few had a PHEV version on order, one about 60 miles away had one in stock). I drove the Niro, but with the just under $5K tax credit and the unwillingness of local dealers to deal on it since it was high demand vs. the supply here, the Honda was cheaper (about the same quoted sales price since they took a lot more off the sticker price, but a $2500 larger tax credit). The better non-electric MPG of the Niro might have been nice (though it is only by a couple MPG, it wasn't as drastic as for the Ioniq or Prius Prime), but that was outweighed by the longer EV range since I'd likely use that more. When driving them both, there were some things I liked better about the Niro and some I liked better about the Clarity, but overall it was a wash. Between the Prime and the Clarity, I simply liked the Clarity better after driving both, and with the larger rebate (but higher price) it was only $1-2K more than the Prius Prime so it wasn't enough for the price to outweigh what I liked better about the Clarity.

    So, I can't really say what you should do (at least not without more info about what you need). But I tried to lay out some of the pros and cons, and I told you why I bought what I did. I hope that is helpful.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2018
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  4. jeff10236

    jeff10236 Member

    I left out what I would avoid. I'd stay away from those with less than 20 miles of electric range for sure. Personally, I want more range. Also, those are primarily the luxury brands and I really can't spend that much right now. Of course, if you want a luxury brand, and you mostly drive short trips from your house, I suppose that may not be a bad way for you to go (I just wouldn't).

    Now, when some of the higher range all electric BEVs come out from Mercedes, BMW and others, and after I buy a house, I may consider leasing one in the future (lease only since I'm a teacher and can't afford a $700-1000 car payment).
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  5. interestedinEV

    interestedinEV Well-Known Member

    Great analysis for Jeff10236. Here is the continuum :Bigger Battery, smaller engine ..................smaller battery, bigger engine. To this you add in features like seating capacity, body style etc. If you commute 20 miles daily from home to work, then 30 miles on battery should do for you, quicker charging etc. So the emphasis is on you.

    One question is where do you live. Not all models are available everywhere.
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  6. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Liquid cooling and temperature control of battery. This preserves capacity and with 'preconditioning', the range in cold and charging time in the heat of summer.

    We have both a Prius Prime and BMW i3-REx. Here is a BMW i3-REx benchmark:
    • 463 mi - delivery drive home over Appalachia mountains
    • 700 mi - each way Huntsville to Oklahoma
    • 280 mi - round trip to see eclipse
    • 256 mi - benchmark round trip
    Bob Wilson
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2018
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  8. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    Looks to me like Jeff10236 has covered the subject pretty well.

    Yanni, if you could give us some details about what you intend to use the car for, then we could give you better advice. What would be the average daily driving distance for the car? Will you be using it to haul cargo, or children, or adults on a regular basis? Or will this be mainly for commuting? What is the climate like there, and do you have many hot summer days or cold winter nights?

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  9. Yanni

    Yanni Member

    This is a lot of great info! Since i haven't had an EV or PHEV car ever...I'm not sure what all the important factors are and you have so far given me a lot of things to consider.

    Have to run to meet with a client right now but will be back online later to explain more info.

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  10. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    I would suggest looking for an 'end of lease' car because they are well maintained when they come off and often have manufacturer warranty left. They depreciate very fast which more than makes up for no Federal tax credit.

    Bob Wilson
  11. Yanni

    Yanni Member

    Hi again! Yanni here. Thanks for all the great info!

    Before I read and digest everything you'all have written, here are the major factors I'm considering...
    (subject to change without notice, blah blah blah)

    I'm very price sensitive (medical issues in the family so not a lot of excess cash) so we can rule out the $$$cars like BMW and Audi, etc.
    Also, because of price sensitivity, I'm intrigued by the "lifetime warranty" that the Hyundai company talks about re: their battery replacement, but I have yet to see IN WRITING what that actually means (skeptical!). I don't want to pay big bucks for a car that has a $4,000 $6,000 or or more$$$$K battery replacement cost in the near-ish future. That's an unknown that makes me lean towards the Hyundai, but I've never owned a Hyundai. We're mostly a Volvo and Nissan family.

    Generally only 1 or 2 adults in the car. No need for hauling/towing, but I would like for it to have a trunk and 60/40 fold down seats with pass-through ability (Honda Clarity and the Ford *whatever* both fail on this one!). I hope I don't have to compromise on that...but am open to the idea if necessary.

    This car will be used primarily for commuting, but I have variable driving needs through the week. Not driving to the same place/back every day. Within a year or two, it will be the only car I own so I feel the pressure to buy the RIGHT ONE and we keep our cars for a looong time. It is for this reason that I'm not comfortable getting an all electric. I wouldn't be able to take it on long trips without paying for charging...and at home I can charge for free (see below).

    RANGE/MILES/ELECTRICITY I'm a numbers person, and the # I'm focusing on is the excess solar that we generate at our home. It's roughly 4500/KWh annually, which amounts to 4500/ 365 = 12.3 KWh available every day. So I could just go for the biggest battery, but is that wise?

    Ideally I'd like to be able to load all those KWh into the gas tank because we get more value for it as 'gas' versus what the utility company pays us at the end of the year for our excess generation (peanuts). So basically I have 12KWh daily to load into a plug-in hybrid.

    I'm not a fan of small cars (bigger = safer) but test drove an Ioniq to give it a try and (ack!) I really don't like having that visibility-blocking bar in the rear-view mirror.
    Have not driven a Sonata--they're all sold out here (Southern California) and am waiting for the 2019's to arrive. Hoping that *maybe* they have a bigger battery than their 2017s did (8.9KWh I think).

    Since I'm in So. Cal and this will be garaged at night, I don't have to worry about extreme cold, but I DO have to worry about extreme HOT and I don't know which "kinds" of systems work better when I need to have the AC pumping. We have a family member with a medical condition and they need to stay under under 75-80F, so if it is going to kick on the gas usage just to run AC, that may be a dealbreaker. I read somewhere (before I was seriously looking) that using the AC or Heat in some car/s REQUIRES the gasoline engine to turn on, but can't remember which car/s they were talking about, or if that is even an issue anymore in "today's" cars.

    I've also read that some cars have free phone apps that help you monitor the battery and miles driven and ??? I have no idea if I care about that, and if I did, what I would want to monitor anyway....your info on that would be much appreciated. Off the top of my head, I think that I'd like to know how many gasoline miles vs electric-only miles I have driven the car so that I don't go in for oil changes when I don't need to. Seems like the overall mileage # wouldn't really indicate when the gas motor needed maintenance, since I'm hoping to be using a lot of electric miles. (I see this problem of not knowing what I want as kind of like how nobody knew how much they wanted an iPod before they were invented, then they had all kinds of things on their wish-list!)

    The Chevy Volt has a big battery re: KWh and mileage, but it's a hatchback and I prefer a trunk.

    I need to draw up a spreadsheet and track all this since I'm a serious buyer now.

    Thanks again for all your insight!

    More info = better outcome!
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2018
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  13. jeff10236

    jeff10236 Member

    I'm on my phone and not my computer so I'll try to keep this short (for me anyway :) ).

    The Clarity does have a 60/40 fold-down seat and trunk pass through. The space in that pass through is a little tight IMO, but I've thought that of every sedan I've had. Don't rule it out because you don't think it has a useful pass through, check it out at the dealer and decide for yourself.

    It is true that a battery replacement will be pretty expensive. With the 17 ish KWh battery on my Clarity, I'm guessing a $8-10k replacement cost. However, quite a few electric cars and hybrids go 150-200k miles without needing a battery change. At that rate I do not expect the likelihood of me needing a new battery early to be any greater then my chances of needing a transmission or engine on a regular car ( also extremely expensive car parts).

    A few of the plugins out there do require the engine for the heat to turn on, at least the Hyundai and the Kia. I don't know if any current ones off hand that need the gas engine for the air conditioner.
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  14. jeff10236

    jeff10236 Member

    Almost forgot about the app. I think they pretty much all have that now I know for sure my Clarity does
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  15. marshall

    marshall Well-Known Member

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  16. marshall

    marshall Well-Known Member

    My list is as follows:
    1. The cargo size, and interior size and comfort.
    2. A large enough battery range that allows me to run in EV mode without using the gas engine for 80 to 85 percent of my daily travels.
    3. The vehicle has an electric heater to heat the interior of the vehicle in the fall, winter, and spring.
    4. A liquid cooled battery is a plus.
    5. A large enough battery so that with capacity loss over time the vehicle can still allow EV mode travel for 80 to 85 percent of my daily travels.
    6. A long warranty on the hybrid parts is a plus.
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  17. marshall

    marshall Well-Known Member

    Hyundai/Kia is the only manufacture that I know of that doesn't have an electric heater to heat the interior of the vehicle in fall, winter, and spring. So they are really only California climate cars.
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  18. interestedinEV

    interestedinEV Well-Known Member

    Reading this thread has generated some ideas. I like to categorize criteria. Here are the categories I have some up with: This just my first cut and others may better ideas. This could almost be made into a decision framework. For example you could use a Go/No Go method. For example, if I decide I need at least 40 miles on the battery, then I can eliminate those that fall below. No car will meet all criteria and one may not find some of these criteria important. So this type of checklist may help in deciding the trade offs.

    A: EV usage/Range
    1. How many miles can I get out of pure Battery before ICE kicks in
    2. How many miles do I think I need on a daily basis out of battery operation and what percentage should it be of battery range (80%, 100%, 120% etc)
    3. Charging time for full charge based on mostly likely charging method (wall socket, home charging system, system at work....)
    4. ..............
    B: Style and features (can be applied more generically than just to EV's but some features you need may not be available with current crop of EV's)
    1. Body type (sedan, hatchback, SUV)
    2. Storage capacity (including fold back of seats)
    3. passenger carrying capacity
    4. Ergonomic design
    5. ..........
    C: Convenience elements (can be applied more generically than just to EV's but some features you need may not be available with current crop of EV's)
    1. Heated seats
    2. Lane assist/assisted driving
    3. Navigation
    4. ......
    D: EV Technology
    1. Battery type (cooling etc)
    2. Battery maintenance ability
    3. Charging method
    4. Other EV technology features
    5. ................
    E: Maintainability and serviceability
    1. Availability of service techs who can handle EVs (the local VW dealer told me that VW had not trained the local dealerships hence they could not service cars if bought in another state)
    2. Warranties
    3. Charging stations
    4. .......
    F: Total Cost of ownership
    1. Initial cost of car
    2. Rebates and incentives including Govt. incentives
    3. Cost of maintenance over a period of time
    4. Battery replacement costs
    5. Resale value
    6. Financing alternatives
    7. Operational costs (cost of fuel, charging etc)
    Adding under Total Cost of Ownership is the cost of charging and any incentives from the utility. If you have solar and no cost for home charging, then it comes under operational costs.

    Again this is just a first cut and not designed to be exhaustive or complete. Others can weigh in with better ways of presenting this.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018
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  19. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    It may make more sense in 5-7 years to buy newer battery technology than replacing one that old.

    Bob Wilson
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  20. interestedinEV

    interestedinEV Well-Known Member

    So the question that comes into play for the analysis is the time frame. If you are like me who wants to run cars to the ground before I get a new one (just donated out my 2006 Sentra), then it may be a consideration. If you believe that you are looking for the Total Cost of Ownership for only 5 years, and the battery warranty is say 7 years, then eliminate it as a criteria. Not all criteria apply to all situations and people may have different views on the same criteria. But you make a good point on having a time frame for the analysis.
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  21. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    In my case, these came to mind:
    • 18650 (NMC) -> 2170 (NCA) - reports are these are nearly 50% higher energy density yet cheaper.
    • prismatic cells - Toyota managed to keep their NiMH modules consistent enough that 2001 Gen-1 traction battery rebuilds could use Gen-2, Gen-3, and 2018 Gen-4 NiMH modules. The Toyota format did not change until their LiON cells. As for the other vendors, every dang LiON module/cell/pouch looks different. I'm OK with change but there is no commonality so I can't pickup a Bolt salvage pack to fix my BMW i3. This proliferation of incompatible battery parts makes a future change impractical.
    Bob Wilson
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2018
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  22. marshall

    marshall Well-Known Member

    If you live in a CARB state, then many of your hybrid and emission parts are covered with a longer warranty. For example, the battery is warranted for 10 years or 150,000 miles. Other hybrid parts are covered for 15 years or 150,000 miles.
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  23. interestedinEV

    interestedinEV Well-Known Member

    You bring up another point, on location of usage. Based on location, some criteria may or may not apply or there may be new criteria based on location. One additional change based on location is the cost of charging, some utilities have discounts or incentives for EV charging. So I have added operational costs to the Total cost of ownership as they will change. As you point out, warranties change based on location.
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