Why Are There No Commercially Available Plug-in Hybrids?

Yes, indeed, why aren’t there any mainstream car maker commercial plug-in hybrids, PHEV, or extended range electric vehicle, EREV available?

The gist, the only way to drive in a PHEV or an EREV is to modify a hybrid, HEV.  No commercial car makers offer one at this moment, even if some talk of it.  Toyota said they would release a PHEV/EREV version of the Prius for 2010 but that looks to be delayed for now.

The Road To Conversion.  In the meantime, many drivers with extra cash on their hands or just eager to squeeze more fuel efficiency out of their HEVs have taken the leap to forgo the factory warranty and upgrade their HEV to PHEV/EREV with available kits.  Anyone, from you local neighbor to Consumer Report in their last January issue are reporting doubling gas mileage improvements, some claim above above 100mpg, and AFS Trinity has proven 150mpg.

The Reluctance Of Car Makers.  So why are car makers dragging their feet?  Surely the tooling is not that different and plenty of prototypes are out there.  Could it be the question of which type of battery needs to be used?  Is it the famous lithium vs NiHM vs lead acid debate raging over the internet?  The answer could be in this trivial Toyota interview on the great RAV4/EV when a company manager said they built it too well and couldn’t make enough money.  But the question now is, are they making enough money in this situation?  Obviously not.

So why aren’t there PHEV/EREVs available from mainstreambrands today?  It would mean a complete overhaul of the business model which depends heavily on maintenance.  A PHEV/EREV and an EV require very little maintenance.  Car companies have to figure out a way to make them profitable.  One thing is certain, this is a huge paradigm shift.

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