ZEW - Centre for European Economic Research

04/05/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/05/2024 01:25

High Fuel Prices Boost Electric Mobility // ZEW Study on the Effects of Fuel Prices on the Charging Behaviour of Hybrid Car Drivers

ZEW Study on the Effects of Fuel Prices on the Charging Behaviour of Hybrid Car Drivers

The ZEW study shows that the lower-emission use of hybrid vehicles is not permanent. This means that the environmental benefits of plug-in hybrids are overestimated.

Plug-in hybrids, with their combination of combustion and electric motors, are considered a transitional technology on the path to full electric mobility. Yet, drivers of these hybrids are scarcely tapping into the emission advantages over conventional combustion engines: on average, they drive only 39 per cent of their journeys in electric mode. According to a study by ZEW Mannheim and the University of Mannheim, rising fuel prices lead to more electric kilometres driven. It shows that drivers of hybrid vehicles cover the same number of kilometres at higher fuel prices as before, but reduce their fuel consumption by using the electric mode more frequently. Shorter charging times also contribute to more hybrids operating in electric mode. For their study, the researchers used a mileage tracking app with around 70,000 users, whose data was cross-referenced with official surveys.

"Drivers of hybrid vehicles respond to rising fuel prices by covering more of their journeys in electric mode. However, this doesn't become a habit, so the environmentally friendlier usage is not lasting. Thus, the environmental advantage of plug-in hybrids is overestimated," emphasises Eunseong Park, a researcher in ZEW's "Environmental and Climate Economics" Unit and co-author of the study. "It's therefore crucial for policymakers to consider the actual share of electric propulsion and emissions when assessing manufacturers' compliance with emission regulations."