Should PHEVs offer a choice of battery pack sizes?

Would plug-in hybrid buyers be interested in having a choice of battery pack sizes? The authors of a new study seem to think so, recommending that manufacturers should develop a modular design for PHEVs and EREVs, allowing them to offer a choice of storage capacity to meet individual customer requirements.

The study, written by a team from the Institute of Vehicle Concepts, German Aerospace Center (DLR) and published in the journal Energy Policy, focuses specifically on the German market. It suggests that OEMs offer (for example) three different battery sizes for drivers with low, average and high mileage.

The DLR team analyzed the effect of different driving profiles, and found that battery size has a significant effect on total cost of ownership. For a German EREV owner who drives 15,000 km per year, a battery capacity of 6 kWh would be cost-optimal by 2020. However, the optimal size changes to 2 kWh if the annual mileage is halved, and to 13 kWh if annual mileage is doubled.

SEE ALSO: Are most drivers are better off with an under-100-mile EV range?

“Two of the most promising powertrain technologies are plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and extended range (EREV),” writes lead author Martin Redelbach. “However, the battery is still a very critical component due to the high production cost and heavy weight. Therefore, the right sizing of the battery is the key for electric powertrains to meet customer expectations and become cost-competitive against conventional technologies.”

Of course, as automakers are well aware, the logical conclusions of academics do not always line up with car buyers’ behavior. “This paper assumes a rational customer who has objective to minimize the total cost of ownership,” writes Redelbach. “In reality, the behavior of consumers may not be fully rational. Consumers may prefer high electric range due to several reasons.”


Source: Energy Policy via Green Car Congress

  • disqus_lSZTklmvO1

    Call me irrational. I’d pay another $10-20K just to eliminate the last 7-10 gallons of gas that I still have to use in a month. It’s not just about money, it’s about leading the way. I know not everyone shares my priorities and that’s OK.

    • Michel

      I’m with you on this .it’s should have an option . (A battery pack instead of a combustion engine on the volt) likr the new BMW i3 have the combustion engine generator in option.

  • brian_gilbert

    Bearded man wants a socket he can lock. If it is for home use he can have an isolation switch inside his house.

  • DWilson

    I have the Honda Accord PHEV and my wife has the Leaf. For us, it made sense to get a short and mid range battery. The Honda goes 15-17 miles, then becomes a hybrid with 50 mpg. Net effect, we drive 24K miles/year but use about 120 gallons of fuel. I’m confident in a few years, I’ll be able to replace the Honda battery with at least a 40 mile Leaf battery. I have a quote for 5K to do so from a company that does Hybrid to PHEV upgrades. As we generate the electricity with solar, we’ve cut out 85% of the fuel needs. Perfect world, I could buy a battery to add to either the Leaf or Accord to add another 10-20 miles range, that would cut the remaining fuel consumption by 50% and still have no range anxiety. But for now, it makes no sense to add more as the fuel savings over 10 years wouldn’t pay for the additional battery. At $3K, would upgrade to the 40 mile range.