Many real-world optimization problems have more than three objectives, which has triggered increasing research interest in developing efficient and effective evolutionary algorithms for solving many-objective optimization problems. However, most many-objective evolutionary algorithms have only been evaluated on benchmark test functions and few applied to real-world optimization problems. To move a step forward, this paper presents a case study of solving a many-objective hybrid electric vehicle controller design problem using three state-of-the-art algorithms, namely, a decomposition based evolutionary algorithm (MOEA/D), a non-dominated sorting based genetic algorithm (NSGA-III), and a reference vector guided evolutionary algorithm (RVEA). We start with atypical setting aimed at approximating the Pareto front without introducing any user preferences. Based on the analyses of the approximated Pareto front, we introduce a preference articulation method and embed it in the three evolutionary algorithms for identifying solutions that the decision-maker prefers. Our experimental results demonstrate that by incorporating user preferences into many-objective evolutionary algorithms, we are not only able to gain deep insight into the trade-off relationships between the objectives, but also to achieve high-quality solutions reflecting the decision-maker’s preferences. In addition, our experimental results indicate that each of the three algorithms examined in this work has its unique advantages that can be exploited when applied to the optimization of real-world problems.