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Why plug-in hybrids are the best bet for road trips in 2024

by Staff

According to a Forbes Advisor Survey, 34% of Americans plan to take a road trip in 2024, but what is the best vehicle for the voyage?

Yahoo Finance Reporter Pras Subramanian joins the Live show for the latest edition of Travel Guide 2024: Industry Insights breaks down the best, most cost efficient vehicle options for different types of road trips.

For more expert insight and the latest market action, click here to watch this full episode of Yahoo Finance Live.

Editor’s note: This article was written by Nicholas Jacobino

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: 34% of Americans who are vacationing this year plan to take a road trip. Now there are so many options for consumers out there. Outside of the usual gas powered car. Joining us now, as part of Yahoo Finance’s travel guide 2024 industry insights, is our very own Pras Subramanian. Pras, something tells me you’re going to stick to plug-ins. Not necessarily EVs for our road trip.

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: Yeah. I think so.

AKIKO FUJITA: Plug-in hybrids, I should say.

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: Well, yeah, I mean, you have hybrids that are plug-ins and not plug-ins, and have more electric power compared to others. But yeah, I mean, traditionally speaking, a road trip, look, with an EV, it’s going to be a bit more difficult in terms of finding those charging stations across the highway. With Tesla, you might have a better opportunity there with the supercharger network.

But yeah, looking at cars like in that hybrids and plug-ins. Consumer reports, they had a big report out yesterday talking about these cars and noting that hybrids and plug-in hybrids have been getting better over the years. Better technology, quieter more performance, better efficiency and things like that. And they broke down a comparison here. You can see this right now with an EV versus an equivalent plug-in hybrid.

So in case, we’re looking at, I believe the Kia Niro right. And when they did a study on how people actually travel and what their fuel costs or electrical costs would be. In this case, the plug-in hybrid, the PHEV Niro beats out the EV when it comes to actually running costs. So we see that there. The next example is the Hyundai Tucson which you’ll see in the next screen. And that’s a hybrid, traditional hybrid versus a PHEV.

And guess what? In this case, the hybrid is beating the PHEV. Now I will say that this has to do with how the car is being used. So if you’re doing a lot of highway driving, the PHEV will probably run out or probably not be going electric so much and that hybrid will actually give you more efficiency. But if you’re doing a lot of city driving, the PHEV is going to be an all electric mode most of the time and you’ll really save there in terms of energy prices.

And finally the last example is the BMW 3 Series. The standard bearer there in the sedan market. The PHEV again beats out the traditional gas powered car here. Not surprising, you’re going to get that extra efficiency that electric boost that’ll improve or help your mileage there.

AKIKO FUJITA: Pras, do we have any idea how available these cars are through rentals? And we’ve talked a lot about companies like Hertz really slashing their fleet around electric vehicles. Road trip typically requires– typically you’re out renting a car first before you head out on the road. What’s the availability like?

PRAS SUBRAMANIAN: I would argue that there’s probably more EVs than PHEVs on the rental fleets currently. And now you said, you mentioned Hertz cutting their fleet. They still have several 1,000 EVs in their fleet. But I think prior to that, most traditional car rental companies were buying gas powered cars. Maybe a hybrid PHEVs were a bit more expensive and a bit more finicky with how you deal with it.

You’re not going to see or trust a car rental consumer to plug that in at night. Where are they going to do that? So I think you might see more traditional hybrids and maybe even more EVs now. But the plug-in hybrid was not part of the traditional car rental fleet. And I think you maybe you might see that change a bit as people become more accustomed to how those things work.

Akiko, it’s funny you mentioned one of the best selling plug-in hybrid is the Jeep Wrangler, PHEV and also the Grand Cherokee. It turns out a huge percentage of those users do not even know that you can plug-in that car to actually flip the battery. I’m telling you that’s what dealers have told people like me and others. So there needs to be some education too.

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah. Education certainly key in that transition to electric. Pras Subramanian, thanks so much for that.

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