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Electric vehicles

Plug-in hybrids a dying breed as carmakers favor battery EVs

Auto parts makers also favor BEVs over PHEVs as battery-powered cars use more expensive components

By Oct 14, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Plug-in hybrid EVs are making way for battery electric cars
Plug-in hybrid EVs are making way for battery electric cars

A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) was once touted as the next-generation automobile technology as such models carry the strengths of both a combustion engine car and a battery-powered vehicle.

But with the advancement of technology related to fully electrified vehicles using batteries, PHEV models are quickly becoming a dying breed.

According to the auto industry on Thursday, a total of 33,655 battery electric vehicles (BEVs) were sold in Germany, the largest EV market in Europe, last month, up 59% from August.

In comparison, 22,842 units of PHEVs were sold in Germany, up 13.5% in the same period.

BEVs accounted for 17.1% of the German auto market in September, while PHEVs took an 11.6% share.

Battery-powered vehicles were also selling more than PHEV models in other European countries such as Norway, France and Sweden, as automakers are ditching plug-in models to make way for fully electric cars.

For many automakers, plug-in hybrid powertrains were deemed a transitional, stop-gap technology until battery technology reached a certain point of development.

PHEV's battery pack is usually smaller than battery packs in all-electric vehicles as a PHEV has to accommodate a combustion engine as well as a hybrid drivetrain, thus a relatively shorter range per charge.

With a growing number of charging stations installed around the world and the speedy rollout of longer-range battery vehicles, automakers have begun halting plug-in hybrid models.

Hyundai Motor's all-electric IONIQ5
Hyundai Motor's all-electric IONIQ5

NO FURTHER PHEV DEVELOPMENT

During the IAA Mobility Show 2021 in Munich last month, Mercedes-Benz Chief Operating Officer and Daimler executive Markus Schafer said the manufacturer won’t develop new plug-in hybrid powertrains in the future.

“No further new developments are planned,” he told German newspaper Handelsblatt in Munich. “The investments have been made, to that extent, we are using them.”

According to Schafer, the complexity of having two drive units in one vehicle is an inherent flaw, calling it a “cost burden for the vehicle.”

The newspaper said even EV parts makers also favor BEVs over PHEVs as battery-powered cars use more expensive components.

Daimler’s decision comes as a number of European and other major countries are tightening rules to ban the sale of combustion engine vehicles. The Netherlands and Norway will ban such sales from 2025, Germany and the UK from 2030, Canada, China, Korea and the US from 2035, and France from 2040.

2022 Audi e-tron GT by the Volkswagen Group
2022 Audi e-tron GT by the Volkswagen Group

In South Korea, Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Corp. have nearly halted developing new plug-in hybrid models due to the declining popularity of such cars.

In the first nine months of this year, BEVs and PHEVs in Korea accounted for 4.3% and 1.4% of the auto market, respectively, widening the gap from 2.1% and 0.4% in the year-earlier period.

Write to Hyung-Kyu Kim at khk@hankyung.com

In-Soo Nam edited this article.

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