GreenCars 101
Plug-In Hybrids

Benefits of Plug-In Hybrid Cars

Dave Nichols
Mar 2024
Plug-in hybrid vehicles save you money on gasoline, are more environmentally friendly, and eliminate the “range anxiety” some feel with all-electric cars. For some drivers, that means they combine the best of many worlds.
Hybrid car driving down street

Understanding the Benefits of Plug-In Hybrid Cars

Plug-in hybrids offer a balance between gas-saving, environmentally friendly travel and the ability to go anywhere without the range anxiety that some feel with EVs. Because PHEVs can travel from 28 to 60 miles (depending on the make and model) on electric-only power, they help you extend your mileage and use less gasoline. Most Americans can do their daily driving, going to work and back or to the grocery store and back on electric power alone.

A fast-moving evolution is taking place in the world of personal transportation. We are moving from gasoline-powered internal combustion engines to more efficient, zero emission all-electric cars for a greener future. High gas prices are pushing this revolution and even people who don’t find EVs appealing are embracing plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) in record numbers.

Hyundai Plug-in Hybrid and Kia electric Vehicle

Plug-In Hybrids vs Electric Cars

With a plug-in hybrid, drivers can run errands on battery power alone, but the gasoline engine comes into play for longer trips, working with the electric motor for better fuel consumption. As with all hybrid cars, the transition from electric to gasoline power is seamless to the user.

Once you are back home, your PHEV can charge up in just a few hours and you are ready to head out on all-electric power once again. Lift the hood, and you’ll see an internal combustion gasoline engine and an electric motor nestled together, just like all hybrid cars. Outside the vehicle, you’ll find two small doors that open for fueling; one is for gasoline and the other is for plug-in electricity.

On the other hand, an all-electric car has no gasoline engine at all. Most EVs today have a range of 200 miles or more before they need a recharge. That’s plenty of range to drive on a typical day. By plugging in your car at home overnight, it is like having a full tank of fuel every morning. Plus, new EVs are pushing the range limit to over 300 miles and some vehicles such as the Lucid Air claim a range of over 500 miles.

Both PHEVs and all-electric EVs allow you to charge with Level 1 or 2, but only EVs include the ability for Level 3 DC fast charging at charging stations.

Toyota Prius Prime in snow with couple

Benefits of Owning a Plug-In Hybrid

The biggest benefit of owning a plug-in hybrid is that you can travel anywhere without stopping for time-consuming charging time as with all-electric cars. A PHEV drives just like a traditional hybrid car once you have depleted the battery pack. You are still saving fuel over a conventional gasoline-only car.

PHEVs are also eligible for local, state, and federal tax credits which helps to lower the cost of your new or used vehicle. Today’s PHEVs are available from most automakers including luxury models by BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Audi, and Volvo.

Mainstream car companies also offer a wide array of PHEV sedans, crossovers, and SUVs. Toyota calls its PHEV line Prime models and includes the Prius Prime and popular RAV4 Prime models. These include 48 miles of EPA estimated all-electric range, and all-wheel drive.

Ford PHEVs include the Fusion and Escape, Hyundai has the Tucson and Santa Fe, Kia has the Niro and Sorento, Subaru offers the Crosstrek, Jeep has the Wrangler 4xe and Grand Cherokee 4xe, and Chrysler even has the big Pacifica minivan.

Plug-in Hybrid Engine

Lower Maintenance Costs

Since PHEVs have internal combustion engines, the gas components of the car will share the same maintenance requirements of traditional gas vehicles. However, the electrical components of the car will be a lot cheaper to maintain because there are fewer moving parts in an electric motor than in a gasoline engine. The electric motor’s regenerative braking function will also help EV owners save money by significantly reducing the wear and tear of the braking system, specifically the brake pads.

Man purchasing gas

Lower Fuel Costs

Fuel costs will largely depend on how consistently the internal combustion engine remains unused. Electricity has the benefit of being more price stable and a cheaper fuel source than gasoline. Most utilities offer residential electric rates that cost only a few cents per hour, with some even offering special off-peak rates or time-of-use rates to lower fuel costs even further.

Family driving car

Is a PHEV Right for You?

Many buyers find that PHEVs are the perfect combination of electric driving performance and efficiency without the “range anxiety” of an electric-only vehicle.

PHEVs enable some drivers to perform their daily commute and errands around town solely on electric power, functioning almost as if there wasn’t a gasoline engine under the hood at all. The same PHEV would also let them go on a hassle-free cross-country road trip by using the gasoline engine.

Determining if a PHEV is the right choice for you really depends on how you plan to use your car, but for many buyers, it’s the perfect middle ground.

A young couple admiring the forest and trees next to their RAV4 Hybrid

Join the sustainable transportation evolution.

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