California PHEV Owners Return to Gas Power

Jason R. Sakurai
by Jason R. Sakurai
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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  • PandaBear PandaBear on May 06, 2021

    I bought one just to get on the carpool lane for free, and now that deal is over I am no longer going to buy an EV / plug in. If the price is right I might consider in the future but at the moment I like my gas car better.

  • FormerFF FormerFF on May 06, 2021

    I have a PHEV, and my next car is going to be a gasser, because I want to do some track driving. But, I'm certainly an edge case. I may keep the PHEV to use as an additional car, because it's been such a good car and I won't get that much money for it. If I didn't want to drive on the track, I'm not sure what I'd get. EVing around town is so much nicer than driving a gasoline powered car, it would be hard to give that up, but I don't see an EV that I'd really like. Since what I have has been so reliable and cheap to run, I'd probably just keep it for a few years and see if something else I really liked came along.

  • Bader Hi I want the driver side lights including the bazl and signal
  • Theflyersfan One positive: doesn't appear to have a sunroof. So you won't need to keep paper towels in the car.But there's a serious question to ask this seller - he has less than 40,000 miles on some major engine work, and the transmission and clutch work and mods are less than 2 months old...why are you selling? That's some serious money in upgrades and repairs, knowing that the odds of getting it back at the time of sale is going to be close to nil. This applies to most cars and it needs to be broadcasted - these kinds of upgrades and mods are really just for the current owner. At the time of sale, a lot of buyers will hit pause or just won't pay for the work you've done. Something just doesn't sit well with me and this car. It could be a snowbelt beast and help save the manuals and all that, but a six year old VW with over 100,000 miles normally equals gremlins and electrical issues too numerous to list. Plus rust in New England. I like it, but I'd have to look for a crack pipe somewhere if the seller thinks he's selling at that price.
  • 2ACL I can't help feeling that baby is a gross misnomer for a vehicle which the owner's use necessitated a (manual!) transmission rebuild at 80,000 miles. An expensive lesson in diminishing returns I wouldn't recommend to anyone I know.
  • El scotto Rumbling through my pantry and looking for the box of sheets of aluminum foil. More alt right comments than actual comments on international trade policy. Also a great deal of ignorance about the global oil industry. I'm a geophysicist and I pay attention such things. Best of all we got to watch Tassos go FULL BOT on us.
  • El scotto No one and I mean no one on here is a UAW member or a salaried employee of the Big 3. Then again if someone identified themselves on here they would pilloried every time they posted.The comments on here are like listening to the overgrown children who call into sports radio shows.