The difference between a plug-in hybrid vehicle and a conventional hybrid is quite simple: the first hybrid can be connected to an external power source to charge its battery, the second hybrid cannot.
Connected: So you want to buy a hybrid car: 6 things you should know
Plug-in hybrids – also known as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles or PHEVs – generally have a larger, more powerful battery than their plug-free hybrid counterparts, so they can run entirely on electricity like an all-electric vehicle without an electric petrol engine . Like an electric car, plug-in hybrid vehicles can be charged from any 120-volt socket in the household. However, charging time is much faster with a 240 volt charger at home or in some rest stops, parking garages, or other work locations.
With much smaller batteries than pure electric vehicles, many PHEVs get by without a 240-volt charge. They simply require less power and can be charged overnight. However, if you want to preheat or precool the cabin before unplugging it – a recommended step to maintain your electric range – a 240 volt connection will be more effective. However, their added complexity and larger batteries make PHEV models more expensive than their regular hybrid counterparts Federal tax credits can make at least part of the difference (and government incentives may also be available depending on where you live). In addition, the fact that plug-in hybrids can at least temporarily be used as pure electric vehicles can lead to an increase in range for some drivers while at the same time minimizing range anxiety through the support of gasoline engines.
Just don’t see a plug-in hybrid emblem and assume that you can get this far with electricity alone, as the ranges are very different. The 2021 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid has one of the shortest electric-only ranges with an EPA estimated 14 miles before the gasoline engine has to start. The 2021 BMW X3 xDrive30e, 2021 Land Rover Range Rover Sport PHEV, 2021 Mini SE Countryman All4, and 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid all have a range of less than 20 miles, and several other models drive just over 20 miles.
The current champions of electric stoves include the 2021 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid with a rated power of 47 miles; the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime, rated 42 miles; the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivan, rated 32 miles; and the 2021 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid, rated 29 miles. But we should also focus on the 2021 BMW i3, which stands out as an extended-range electric car (126 miles) and offers an optional extended-range gas-powered generator that essentially turns it into a PHEV.
Aside from their all-electric range, which normally allows for highway speeds, plug-ins are pretty similar to traditional hybrids that they can live and drive with. Some models, such as the Hyundai Ioniq, Toyota Prius, and Prius Prime, offer a choice between traditional hybrid or plug-in hybrid drives. The Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid is also available as a battery-electric and fuel cell model. But it seems that most plug-in hybrids are versions of models that are otherwise only sold as regular gas-powered cars and SUVs, with many more to come.
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