Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) appear to have outsold battery electric vehicles in California by about a two-to-one margin since the Toyota Prius Plug-in started US sales earlier this year, according to the state's Center for Sustainable Energy.

To date, the state has given out about 7,400 clean-vehicle rebates for EV owners, compared to about 6,500 for PHEV owners. That sounds like a clean with for EVs, but that lead is a result of virtually no PHEV rebates given out until this March. Since then, just 2,800 rebates have been distributed to owners of EVs such as the Nissan Leaf. PHEV rebate numbers were helped by the fact that the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in became eligible for them in February.

The numbers are a barometer of US demand for electric-drive vehicles because California is the most populous US state and by far the largest US market for alt-fuel vehicles. Through November, Toyota sold almost 11,400 Prius Plug-ins, while General Motors sold almost 21,000 Volts, compared to the 8,330 Nissan Leafs sold this year. Additionally, Ford sold 1,259 of its C-Max Energi PHEVs during that model's first full month of sales.

Folks can check out the state statistics here.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 22 Comments
      Smith Jim
      • 2 Years Ago
      There seems to be a lot of EV purists who believe PHEVs are a threat to the success of EVs. EV purists seem to think that PHEVs will keep us addicted to oil which will result in a delay of a pure EV future. I don't see it that way. I'll use the Chevy Volt as an example of why I think PHEVs will accelerate us toward an EV future. According to data collected by GM the average Volt is operating in EV mode 67% of miles driven. Any increase, however small, in the storage capacity of the Volt battery will increase the EV miles above 67%. Eventually, EV mode will approach 100%. At this point it makes no sense to keep the ICE as part of the vehicle. I believe this will happen faster than most people think, perhaps less than five years. There is another reason some EV purists believe PHEVs are a roadblock to pure EVs. Some people believe auto manufacturers cling to ICE technology because vehicles that need more repairs and maintenance result in more profits for manufacturers. Automobiles that require more repairs and maintenance might result in profits for dealerships but not for manufacturers who have to pay the cost of warranty coverage. Warranty coverage is a huge expense in the automotive industry and an enormous amount of effort goes into making products as reliable as possible to keep warranty costs down. (By the way, this is true for all manufactured products) I know this because I worked in the automotive industry as a quality engineer but anyone with common sense ought to understand this.
        JPWhite
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Smith Jim
        I don't see them as competitive at BEV's at all. They are training wheels for the uninitiated. When the PHEV comes up for renewal and drivers are accustomed to small distances on electric only then the range of a BEV will seem ample to them rather than inadequate. PHEV's will make BEV converts one day.
        brotherkenny4
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Smith Jim
        The key to either the EV or PHEV technologies is to get the cost of good batteries down. Currently the technology is adequate but expensive. More PHEV volume means more battery volume period, and thus lower costs for both PHEV and EV batteries. Just too bad US investors and politicians are so beholding to oil.
          Denver
          • 2 Years Ago
          @brotherkenny4
          The problem with getting the cost of Lithium Ion batteries down is that Exxon owns the patent. So they only feasible way to lower the cost would be to come up with a different kind of battery.
        pmpjunkie01
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Smith Jim
        I haven't met any EVangelists that directly oppose PHEVs. I've met a lot though that don't get excited about them one bit. I personally believe the biggest roadblock to EV development are the efficiency gurus in the field. There is just no way a EV can compete with an econobox type of car (especially with the prius around) for the penny pinching type customer. It can only be introduced trough the high end market where people focus more on soft factors than just cost. Just look at the Rimac Concept One. It seems to be sold out at $980,000 a piece, the T Roadster or the model S. None of them are cheap, yet they are highly successfull.
      Vlad
      • 2 Years Ago
      That's what evolution looks like. I am a firm believer in pure EVs (and backed it leasing a Leaf which I absolutely love), but as things stand today, switching to PHEV requires zero adjustment for 100% of ICE drivers, and suits the needs of 100% of drivers. Switching to a pure EV requires at least some adjustment from at least some people, and doesn't fit the need of everybody. Seems quite natural that PHEVs will sell more. My hope is that the spread of PHEVs will help building out charging infrastructure, and thus will pave the road for wider adoption of pure EVs.
        paulwesterberg
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Vlad
        If people buy a volt and drive it for three years and find that they only need to fill the gas tank a few times a year they might see that they can do their routine driving with a pure electric vehicle.
      usbseawolf2000
      • 2 Years Ago
      I had my PiP for about 2 months. 40% of my miles are on EV and 60% on HV. Majority of my trips are on EV. Fuel consumption for both electricity and gas are amazing! 264 Wh/mi (15% charging loss included) on electricity and 55 MPG on gas.
      ninjustin
      • 2 Years Ago
      I presonally think a plug in that can get you to work and back is the way to go. We can't all afford 300 mile per charge Teslas let alone get our hands on one if we could.
      Gabbo
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Toyota Prius is the automotive equivalent of gruel. You couldn't pay me to be seen in one. The Volt is light-years better looking.
      pmpjunkie01
      • 2 Years Ago
      If you are looking for efficiency a PHEV is probably hard to beat. If it enables drivers to go over 60% of the mileage in electric mode, that's great too. Another nice side effect is that they are pushing electrification of car components along too, ultimately helping to lower prices for EVs as well. For the car enthusiast however my new gold standard is the kind of experience a Tesla delivers. None of the PHEVs come even close.
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      Mitsubishi is switching its emphasis to hybrids: http://www.caradvice.com.au/205381/mitsubishi-aims-electric-vehicle-price-leader/ 'Hattari-san argues that a business case for pure electric vehicles in the light and small car classes is weak, despite the company currently selling the i-MiEV. He believes models such as the Mirage light car and Lancer small car would better work as series hybrid, plug-in electric vehicles, similar in style to the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV to be launched next year.' And: 'Batteries are currently the single biggest additional cost for an electric vehicle compared with a similarly sized petrol or diesel offering. The costs are so high they make selling pure-electric vehicles prohibitively expensive overall – that’s why the i-MiEV will cost around the same money as the much larger Outlander PHEV that supports its two electric motors with an internal combusion engine.' If only they were going to do the Outlander plug in at the same price as the iMiEV! But somehow I doubt it! ;-)
        Actionable Mango
        • 2 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        I would love an Outlander PHEV, provided they price it where I can afford it. My main fear is Mitsubishi's ultra-tiny market share in the US (0.4% I think?). The closest dealer is 4 cities away and unless things pick up, they may go the way of Suzuki.
          JPWhite
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Actionable Mango
          The Outlander PHEV has much promise. We have two dealers close by. I just wish they would bring it to market!! It would a perfect supplement to our LEAF.
      usbseawolf2000
      • 2 Years Ago
      And recharge it about 5,000 hours to run the rest of 14,400 miles (600 miles on gas).
      Marcopolo
      • 2 Years Ago
      Early adopters are no doubt shaking their heads in amazement at the numbers of posters who suddenly have "always known" that Hybrids, PIEV, EREV's would outsell pure EV's ! Where have all those fierce WKTEC and other purist fanatics of yesteryear disappeared ? They would appear to have developed a remarkable degree of hindsight ! Oh well, it doesn't matter. What's important, has always been the adoption of some form EV technology as an inherent factor in automotive design.
        SVX pearlie
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Marcopolo
        I backed EREV technology from the get-go, as you are well aware. The others, I don't know where they came from. Pure BEVs will have a place, but they will always be a challenged sale as one's only car.
      mycommentemail
      • 2 Years Ago
      PHEV's remind me a bit of Apple's fusion drive or Intel's hybrid drive. In these cases, a small, fast solid state disk (ssd) is used to hold the most frequently used data, and a large, cheap, slow hard drive holds anything that is used less often. The the end user, the result is a seemingly huge amount of data stored (well over 1TB) but, most of the time, with speeds approaching that of a pure SSD. Until the cost of SSD's come down, this is an excellent transitional technology. PHEV's allow us to get a lot of the advantages of the pure EV, but at a price point that allows for broader adoption. Different versions have different amounts of crossover (i.e. the Volt, as far as mainstream PHEV's go, has the most EV range, while the Toyota and Ford have less). So it doesn't surprise me that they are outselling pure EV's. But over time that will change. Just like traditional hard drives will eventually be surpassed by flash technology (SSD's), PHEV's will eventually give way to pure EV's. (Other than range and cost, pure EV's have a lot of advantages - less maintenance, cheaper fuel, simpler design, more flexible design, etc.) But till that time, PHEV's are the natural stepping stone and sales bear this out.
      JakeY
      • 2 Years Ago
      It was always predicted from the start (when only conversions existed) that PHEVs would outsell BEVs significantly since they should be cheaper and are a clear "stepping stone". The Volt kind of turned that on its head given it's actually more expensive. The PiP follows that original idea more closely (although its price was a disappointment for most people and it's not as good a value if you count $/kWh). But it's only getting started. There's a bunch of PHEVs coming (Energi, Accord, Sonata). There's also more lower end BEVs coming (Fit EV, Spark EV, i3).
        brotherkenny4
        • 2 Years Ago
        @JakeY
        GM set the price too high. As typical, they are missing some key male parts. They are so afraid of that market and any possible imaginary liability that they shrink like the neuters that they are. Very weak.
          SVX pearlie
          • 2 Years Ago
          @brotherkenny4
          "GM set the price too high." No, GM charged what it cost. Price is what it is.
      SVX pearlie
      • 2 Years Ago
      PHEVs and EREVs are simply the natural evolution into massively strong hybrids. Once you have a battery and motor for efficiency, and those parts become relatively cheap compared to the rest of the car, you might as well start adding a plug at marginal cost as it carries a price premium. They have virtually no downsides in utility, with all the regular capability of a "regular" car, but a big potential mileage boost at a relatively modest price premium. But the real thing is the HOV sticker. That's what's driving things in California. Everybody can afford such a car has time which is far more valuable than whatever gas is saved.
    • Load More Comments