Sorry Tesla: Why I still think a plugin hybrid is better than a full electric vehicle

plugin hybrid car in california

Alternate Quirky Title: “Here is why I would buy a plugin hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) instead of an all electric car (EV) and I work for a solar company.”

The “all things should be electric” mantra is great until you live in the Sierras.

We have the full spectrum of issues when it comes to reliable energy.

We experience:

  1. PSPS’s – warm weather
  2. Fires – warm weather
  3. Snowmageddons – cold weather & snow

Our energy and transportation challenges happen in warm and cold weather, therefor our solutions have to be more complex than “let’s electrify everything.” 

With that said, for our homes, I still believe in the energy trifecta. Solar + batteries and a backup generator. However, transportation introduces a different set of challenges.

Electric vs hybrid vs combustions vehicles in 2023

As I contemplate my next vehicle purchase, I can’t help but consider several scenarios:

  1. What happens when your electric is out, but you need to charge your car?
  2. What if a fire breaks out and your EV’s battery is depleted from driving all day, and you don’t have time to charge? To top it off, PG&E decides to preemptively cut the power.  *Suddenly your EV becomes an immovable object at a very crucial time.
  3. What if the nearest charging station is “out of order,” and there are no others within your car’s range?
  4. What if you’re stuck in the snow, the road’s impassable and your EV’s battery runs out? With a hybrid or gas-powered vehicle, a gas can could save the day.
  5. For combustion-only vehicles, what if a fire forces evacuation and your car’s low gas mileage creates an emergency scenario when you find out gas stations are out of service, out of gas or closed?
  6. On the flip side, there is also a benefit to being able charge a car at home, especially if gas pumps are out of fuel which can happen before/during emergencies. 

All of these scenarios are possible, and unfortunately they happen in our area.

internal combustion engine vs electric engine california cars

How about range?

Heard this question before?

A fully charged Tesla can travel approximately 300-360 miles, nearly enough to reach Los Angeles.

However, a fully charged and filled 2023 Prius Prime plug-in hybrid car (which employs both electric motors and gas combustion engines) can cover an impressive range of 600-660 miles.

Simply put, you could travel twice as far on a full charge plus a full tank of gas in a 2023 Prius PHEV than you can in a Tesla EV.

To break it down even further:

  • A fully charged Tesla EV could potentially take me as far as Oregon and Nevada.
  • A fully charged Prius Plugin Hybrid could take me to Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona.

When I buy a vehicle I like to consider the extremes and unfortunately these scenarios have become all too real in our community.  Recent fires and snowmageddons along with Covid, created a need to evaluate what our vehicles can do. 

snowmaggedon northern california

This is why we at SEG we focus on appropriate AND sustainable technology. That is why we install solar, batteries AND generators.

In Conclusion

Given all these factors, and with the reasonable prices of these cars currently in production, I personally would buy a plug-in hybrid over any other type of vehicle.  The plugin hybrid can be charged by my home’s solar panels and the electric battery is big enough to get me to work and back without gas. Also because they also have a gasoline engine, which I can fill up anywhere and they can get over 100 mpge!

I will be writing about the Prius PHEV in a future article because it also has solar panels built into the roof as an option! Imagine that, even if all the power was down, I could still keep on going, indefinitely, even it I could only charge up to 6 miles a day. 

Read our article about the 2023 Prius Prime PHEV, to be published in late August 2023 here or subscribe to our newsletter for more (see the side bar or below). 

Also, if you were wondering… there is such a thing as a Solar Electric Vehicles or SEV’s. These concept cars insert solar cells everywhere they can, to gain the most chargeable miles per day. The Lightyear SEV claims it can charge about 44 miles in full sun, per day, which is exciting! But I still believe the extra combustion engine makes a PHEV a more appropriate form of technology for transportation at this moment, in Northern California.

solar electric vehicle SEV california lightyear

The Lightyear SEV