All You Need To Know About Plug-in Hybrids

BMW X5 Hybrid luxury SUV driving down a windy road with the ocean and hills in the background blurred

Alternatives to traditional petrol and diesel cars are no longer an eccentric trend – they’re essential to the sustainability of our environment. For example, electric-powered vehicles are helping to ease the pressure on our natural resources, whilst also saving on harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

The key difference between a plug-in hybrid and any other vehicle is the way it’s powered. Whilst traditional cars will have an internal combustion engine (ICE), and EVs have a battery, PHEVs benefit from the best of both worlds with dual-engine technology.

With the demand for electric vehicles (EVs) continuing to grow at a rapid rate, manufacturers are investing more money into different models to suit different needs. From fully electric models to hybrid alternatives, there are so many greener options available to suit your lifestyle and driving preferences.

Who is This Type of Vehicle For?

For many drivers, the leap from a traditional petrol/diesel-powered vehicle to an all-electric model is too drastic a switch. Not only is the way you top up an electric vehicle different, but the all-around driving experience will likely differ vastly from what you’re used to.

Enter the plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). Designed to bridge the gap between traditional cars and 100% electric, PHEVs stand as a viable alternative, providing many of the benefits that both types of cars offer.

In this guide, we’ll highlight some of the key differences between standard EVs and plug-in hybrids, and explore both the benefits and challenges associated with this type of tech.

EV charging station sign on the floor of the parking lot

Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV)

In a plug-in hybrid vehicle, both an ICE and a battery-powered motor work in tandem to power the car. These models run off both electricity and traditional fuels, so when the battery runs out of charge, the ICE will take over to ensure you’re never caught short. Thus benefiting from both worlds.

What benefits do they offer?

  • Reduced petrol use – With the inclusion of a battery-powered motor, there is less reliance on petrol or diesel to power the car. This ultimately also means that tailpipe emissions will be reduced too. In fact, when driving using the battery’s power, you’ll be producing no emissions at all, making shorter journeys inherently cleaner in a PHEV.
  • Bigger battery than a standard hybrid Batteries in a hybrid car are powered through regenerative braking, but as PHEV batteries are able to be plugged in, they’ll typically have a greater capacity and can go further on electricity alone.
  • Discounts, grants, and tax breaks – An added bonus to owning a plug-in hybrid is that you could be eligible for certain discounts, grants, and even tax breaks from the government. There is a range of models available that come with financial incentives, so with a little research, you’ll be sure to find the right fit for you and your budget.
Blue Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrid PHEV getting charged at an EV charging station close up
Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model getting re-charged

Challenges

  • Charging – Though PHEVs aren’t as reliant on charging as all-electric models, it’s still important to get into the habit of regularly topping up your battery. If you don’t, your car will be far more inefficient and could be causing more harm to the environment. To combat this, you will need to install a home charging point, and will also have to be aware of the local electric charging stations.
  • They may not be the best long-term alternative – With PHEVs currently viewed as a stepping stone for drivers between petrol power and electric, they’re set to be phased out to coincide with the upcoming ban on new petrol/diesel vehicles. Investing in one now may be a good short-term solution, but it may not provide the best value for money in the long run.
Close up of a gas station pump that is old dirty and greasy with the sign blurred in the background and bright blue sky

How do they compare to all-electric cars?

  • Maintenance – More moving parts mean they can be more difficult to maintain than EVs, with both the added inconvenience and cost becoming a factor.
  • No more range anxiety – One survey found that range anxiety was one of the primary barriers to buying an all-electric vehicle for 66% of respondents. But plug-in hybrid drivers need not worry about running out of charge, since the ICE will take over when the battery runs out. This will be a key determining factor for many drivers.
  • Highway driving With EVs able to travel much further on electricity alone, they’ll always be the cleaner option for long journeys. But, a downside to all-electric cars is long journeys will be dictated by the availability of public charging stations, which can be sparse in remote areas. PHEVs can help you take longer journeys with fewer stops.
  • Cost – PHEVs will typically be cheaper to purchase than standard EVs, but their price will depend on the make and model you choose. With a lower upfront cost and reduced maintenance costs, PHEVs stand out as the better choice financially.
Red Toyota Prius Prime 2022 at a free charging station in Pasadena, Los Angeles, California
2022 Toyota Prius Prime Plug-in Hybrid

Conclusion

Plug-in hybrids can be a suitable choice for your transportation needs. It all depends on circumstances such as the cost of maintenance, how many EV charging stations are in your area, and what type of vehicle you need.

The majority of PHEVs offered, come in the form of a four-door sedan or SUV. Hopefully, this article has shed some light on the world of PHEVs. You can find more EV-related articles here. If you liked this article drop a comment below.

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References:

U.S. Department of Energy

How Do Plug-In Hybrid Electric Cars Work?

AutoTrader UK

Understanding the sustainability of electric cars

Steve Sharp

I am a digital consultant with a passion for global and local environmental issues. Since graduating from university, I have worked in various industries, but am now focusing on helping businesses harness the power of digital marketing to improve their bottom line, whilst sharing my knowledge about sustainable living.

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