If drivers of plug-in hybrid vehicles do not charge their vehicles frequently, they are, in effect, driving gasoline-powered vehicles that are burdened with additional battery weight that does not automatically help cut emissions. The EPA is currently making adjustments to account for that.

According to information that was presented on a website that was set up by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), a proposed regulation that was posted by the EPA on April 12 would decrease the approximate amount of electric driving for PHEVs for the purposes of calculating the emissions of greenhouse gases.

To this point, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated plug-in hybrid vehicles to have the advantage of the question when it comes to rules. Certain laws have been drafted with the presumption that drivers will frequently plug in their vehicles and enhance their electrical range.

Utilisation of the PHEV electric drive mode (photo courtesy of the Worldwide Council on Clean Transportation)

However, an assessment conducted by the ICCT in 2022 found that in most cases, you should not. Using self-claimed fuel information from the website Fuelly.com and information for motor-off distances travelled sourced from the California Bureau of Automotive Fix (BAR), the outcomes confirmed that genuine-globe electric powered miles driven by plug-in hybrids may be 25%-65% reduce, and fuel intake may be 42%-67% higher, than what is indicated on the window-sticker labels sanctioned by the EPA.

Because of this, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is going to begin presuming, sometime in the near future, that consumers do not plug in their plug-in hybrids nearly as frequently. This will result in a lower “utility element” in fleet emissions calculations than there is today. For example, a plug-in hybrid vehicle with an electric array that can travel 35 miles would be considered to have 45% of the way to go before reaching zero carbon emissions, down from 57% at the present time. The proposed regulation is currently in the midst of the public comment process, which will remain open until July 5th.

2023 Volvo XC90

It has been discussed in the past that plug-in hybrid vehicles produce an excessive amount of pollution. According to a study that was published in the year 2020 by Transportation & Setting, plug-in hybrids produce more pollution than they claim to due to the fact that they are not entirely useful as electric vehicles due to a lack of ability, range, and functional charging periods.

Because of the limited availability of electric power, many plug-in hybrid vehicles are no longer effective at reducing emissions. To address this problem, California has proposed new laws that will require plug-in hybrid vehicles to have an equivalent of 50 miles of electric range by the year 2035. These plug-in hybrids will essentially be the only new passenger vehicles that are allowed to be sold in the state at that time since they meet the requirements.

As a result of the ambiguous effects that plug-in hybrids have on the real world, Europe is seriously considering putting an early end to the time of plug-in hybrids and shifting its focus entirely to electric vehicles. If something like this were to change in the United States, do you think it’s possible?