Car shoppers may not be buying huge numbers of all-electric cars yet, but they largely understand how they work.

It's a car, you plug it in to charge a battery, it runs on the battery, end of story.

Plug-in hybrids are far harder to explain—are they short-range electric cars? are they hybrids?—and no maker has yet cracked the marketing code on that thorny issue.

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But close to half of all plug-in cars sold globally are in fact plug-in hybrids, and the technology is spreading throughout the lineups of European carmakers.

Are plug-in hybrids the "gateway drug" that will get owners hooked on electric driving, leading them to purchase a long-range electric car?

Or are they only a transitional technology that will ultimately be supplanted by much less expensive, long-range, fully electric cars?

We decided to ask our Twitter followers what they thought on the topic, in another of our weekly polls.

The results were split, indicating little consensus among participants about the future of plug-in hybrids.

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The survey asked how important plug-in hybrids would be in 2025, now just seven model years away.

The most popular answer, at 36 percent, was that they would represent "about half" of all plug-in car sales—which is to say, roughly the status quo.

2017 Toyota Prius Prime Premium

2017 Toyota Prius Prime Premium

After that, 25 percent said they would be "a minority" of plug-in sales, which would indicate a steady rise in the proportion of all-electric cars.

Almost as many respondents, 22 percent, suggested that plug-in hybrids would be "irrelevant by then"—a remarkably optimistic view, we'd suggest, even given steadily falling battery prices.

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But only 17 percent of respondents suggested that plug-in hybrids would be "a majority" of all sales of vehicles that plug in.

Overall, the survey results seem to suggest that over time, respondents believe plug-in hybrids will slowly lose share to battery-electric vehicles.


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