Electric cars are regularly perceived as being slow and heavy. Recently, an Uber driver told me that he would consider buying an electric car only if the electric motor had better torque. He was confident that an internal combustion engine (ICE) has a better torque profile than an electric motor. I tried to explain that it is the combustion engine that is stopping today’s hybrids from performing better… but I failed miserably. I hope I do a better job now explaining why that is the case and why hybrids might be improving the perception of all electric vehicles (EVs) in future. There is some hope for EV perception outside battery electric vehicles (BEVs) like Tesla. It lies in a category called EREV (extended-range electric vehicle).
GM is trying to establish a differentiation between PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) and EREVs (like the new Chevy Volt). At first sight they might seem to be the same; both have an electric motor and a combustion engine; both have a battery pack with between 5 and 20kWh. The big difference, in simple terms, is that EREVs only use the internal combustion engine as backup when batteries are empty. The engine only starts when the battery is empty. Now, that might sound like a disadvantage (why would I only engage one motor instead of two?) but lets look at the data.
Sini Ninkovic analyzes the EV market and its customers since 2012. He helped bringing BMW's i3 and i8 to market and currently works as Product Planner for Lucid Motors.