Plugin Electrics vs All Electric Battery EVs, Epic Throwdown?

I get this every time I discuss EVs.  Something along the lines of oh, you shouldn’t be including PHEVs in with EVs, they don’t count, or are not real EVs, just a stopgap etc.

I tend to think PHEVs may be better product.  At least for now.  And I follow the GM’s Chevy Volt vs the Nissan Leaf with interest.

The main arguments on each:

Plug in Hybrids

  • No range anxiety
  • Still need gasoline
  • Can fuel up at either electric charging station, your home or gas station
  • Depending on driving patterns, may not need MUCH gasoline at all
  • Expensive because:  need both gasoline and electric systems, and batteries are still pretty expensive, even with a fraction of the amount that’s in an EV
  • Get all the torque and quiet and acceleration punch of an EV without the short range hassle
  • But not really an EV, after a few miles it’s “just a hybrid”
  • Future is just a stop gap until EV batteries get cheap? Or just a better car with all the benes and no cons?


Electric Vehicles

  • No gasoline at all (fueled by a mix of 50% coal,20% gas, and the rest nuke and hydro with a little wind :) )
  • Amazing torque and acceleration
  • Dead quiet no emissions
  • Fairly slow to charge compared to gas
  • Lack of charging stations is getting solved, but still somewhat an issue
  • Switching one fuel for another, no extra flexibility on fuel
  • Expensive because lithium ion batteries are still pricey and way a lot
  • Future is cheaper better batteries?  Or they never get there and the future never arrives?

I tend to think the combination of plugins and EVs has actually worked together solved range anxiety.  As a consumer, I get to pick from a full basket when I buy, Leaf, Volt, Prius, Model S, lots of pricey batteries to deal with range anxiety, a plug in that gets me almost there with zero range issues, or a Leaf in between.  Whatever range anxiety I had disappears into consumer choice, just like it should.  I don’t think pure EV is any better or worse than a plugin, just a different choice.  They work together in the fleet, too, plug ins help drive demand for EV charging stations that are critical to electric car success, and EVs drive the cost down on the batteries that brings the plugin costs into line.  Unlike with the Prius over a decade ago, it’s not a single car changing the world, it’s the combination that’s working well for us.

China Plans 220,000 EV Charge Points and 2,351 Battery Switch Stations

China leads the world with over 100 million riding e-scooters, e-bikes, and light-electric vehicles. By December 2015, China plans to have 500,000 electric vehicles that can travel slow streets to fast highways. Those EV will be supported with 220,000 charge points and 2,351 battery swap stations in the nation’s latest plans. China’s 12th Five Year Plan is summarized in a new Deutsche Bank (DB) report.

China will move to a more efficient lower carbon economy not only with electric cars and electric scooters. China is expanding electric transit and rail. For example, electric high-speed rail is targeted to expand by 29,000 miles between now and 2015. China high-speed rail is already more extensive than the mid-speed U.S. Acela system that supports daily riders in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC and other Eastern cities.

Over the next five years, China will reduce its percentage of transportation that requires foreign oil for gasoline and diesel. China will also reduce the percentage of electricity generated by coal. By 2015, China will add:

  • 70 GW wind
  • 120 GW hydro
  • 5 GW solar
  • 40 GW nuclear

China plans to lead the world in using renewable energy. Although the Japanese nuclear disaster occurred as the 12th Plan was being drafted, China appears to be moving ahead with Generation IV nuclear which it views as safer than the Japanese plants built over 30 years ago. For example, Huaneng, China, is proceeding with the construction of a 200MW high-temperature gas-cooled reactor according to the DB report. More cost-effective natural gas plants, however, may yet be substituted for half of the planned nuclear expansion.

China Wind 150x150 China Plans 220,000 EV Charge Points and 2,351 Battery Switch StationsChina is likely to easily meet its 70GW wind 5-year target. It installed 25GW of new wind power in 2010, in comparison to only 5GW in the U.S. China’s wind installations grew faster than grid connection, with 10 percent of new wind not being grid connected. China Wind Renewable Energy World Report

$76.7 billion will be invested in new ultra high-voltage grid transmission to support the added capacity of new power according to the 12th Plan.

These investments will directly benefit China and support Chinese ambitions for Chinese global leadership in technology of the future. The 12th Plan identifies 7 Strategic Emerging Industries:

  • Clean Energy Vehicles
  • Energy Conservation and Environmental Projection
  • New Energy
  • New Materials
  • Biotech
  • High-end manufacturing equipment
  • Next-gen IT

Free DB Report

Disclosure: author owns stock in Chinese wind, solar, and HSR companies Trina Solar (TSL), Goldwind (2208.HK), Ming Yang Power (MY), CSR Corp (1766.HK), China High Speed Transmission (CHSTY), and Zhuzhou CSR Times Electric (3898.HK).