Putting aside the moral issues around climate change and if going to a pure electric car is better for the environment or not... I found myself inside my local Kia dealership who happened to have a couple of the PHEV cars parked outside, and me inside wondering if it would be smart to take my 1 year old Niro EX (hev) and change. BTW: i didn't.
But this thought got me wondering what does make more sense? I can't speak for everyone else with their driving habbits, conditions or rebates that they might get. I live in southern Ontario and we get really nothing in the form of insentives to go electric. So for us it is more based on cost and return for that investment.
The HEV, in my case I went with the EX that cost new around the $30k msrp. For this, I have gotten an average of 4.9L/100km and have done about 10,900km of travel over the past year. My total gas paid has been $588. This is about my usual average for any given year. Of that, there has been about 3500km of longer distance travel. The rest has either been around town or trips in and around the GTA that would likely fall into a plugin charge range. Now I know there have been some days that I drove more than others and if I was using a plugin other than the EV, I might have depleted the charge and had to switch to gas. As well, as there is a chunk in winter and winter does require an engine to heat the car, I would say that the amount of gas used might exceed the 3500km over the course of the year.
There is Niro EV and the most comparitable trim level to my Niro is the EX that sells for $47000 - $5000 in federal credit, giving a difference over the HEV of $11000.
There are also two models of PHEV here in Canada. The EX Premium get a price closest to my current car at $36000 msrp, but minus a federal tax credit for $2500, so the difference would be around the $3500.
The EV is hardest to quantify the actual cost or running it but even assuming zero cost, just the price difference alone puts it outside of any running. So that leaves the PHEV. This is where the interesting questions come into play. I would plan on keeping the car for 10 years, far more than most people, so what is the break-even point? As there are some longer trips, I know that even though those are in the summer time, that extra 3500km will be running on gas. as the trips were between 450~800km each. That is more than you get in a plugin EV so there will be gas involved. As well, during the 5 month period between December - April that is it the coldest here and you needed to use a heater, I purchased around $260 worth of gas during that time period in my Nero. Now assuming that I would get better than that with a PHEV, if I took 1/3rd of the cost towards the engine running to warm up the car, or about $50, and my long trips of [email protected]
/km = $192.50 would mean I could expect a savings of $445 each year in gas savings. But as the PHEV costs $3500 more than the HEV, the break-even is about 8 years to achieve.
But there is also the need to add in the cost of electricity that is the most expensive in the country, along with those days when you drive more than the 45km in a single day and cannot recharge. The cost of gas will go up if we vote in a Liberal, NDP or Green government. Right now gas prices are at quite a low compared to prior years where we have seen gas average the $1.34~1.40. Right now this past year has been an average of $1.13. But needless to say even if the cost of gas does go up, the break-even point will likely only move slightly closer. it would take quite a drastic change, like the cost of gas to double to make a sizeable change, and looking at what is going on in BC with their gas prices, I think there would be a civil war if gas prices jumped to over $2/L here.
So it looks like for me the cost of going PHEV was simply not worth it anyway I looked at it. And considering that I own the HEV, the trade-in value would be much lower than what I paid for the car, so selling it and buying a new PHEV would be even more of a loss.