California PHEV Owners Return to Gas Power


Electric vehicles are one way to carbon neutrality. Yet 20 percent of California PHEV owners have gone back to gas-powered vehicles.

Published in Nature Energy on April 26th by the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, the study found that PHEV buyers in California were abandoning the technology at a rate of 20 percent, as were 18 percent of battery electric vehicle (BEV) owners.

According to the researchers, dissatisfaction with charging convenience, and not having level two, 240-volt charging at home, were the primary reasons.

The National Center for Sustainable Transportation (NCST) funded the analysis. The US Department of Transportation supported the University Transportation Centers program. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) paid for the questionnaire portion. They are one and the same agency that sniffs tailpipes for excess emissions.

Researchers Scott Hardman and Gil Tal had a premise: In order for EVs to be successful, it meant buyers needed to repurchase EVs. Abandoning the technology would prevent EVs from reaching 100 percent market share. They methodically surveyed California households who had purchased PEVs between 2012=2018. EVs’ success relied on adopters continuing to purchase EVs. 18 percent of EV owners and 20 percent of PHEVs were dissatisfied enough to return to gas-powered vehicles.

As noted by, the problem centers around at-home charging. Level 2, 240-volt charging, or a lack thereof, is what led to discontent. Without the ability to recharge your EV at home, all the benefits of EV ownership go out the window. The lack of fast public chargers is a problem. Chargers that aren’t fast enough in comparison to refueling your car also diminished the EV experience.

Half the owners who bought another EV had Level 2 charging access, yet 30 percent who had access to Level 2 charging still decided against buying another EV. Their conclusion? It was pretty much even whether California PHEV owners decided to buy another EV or not. As the technology improves and charging installation is bundled with the purchase of an EV, it should help the green movement grow.

[Image: Mercedes-Benz]

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