The pros and cons of plug-in hybrids and your guide to buying one - MarketWatch

The pros and cons of plug-in hybrids and your guide to buying one – MarketWatch

A lesser-known electric vehicle option – the plug-in hybrid – combines the best of gas and electric vehicles. PHEVs operate like electric vehicles around town and gasoline-powered vehicles on road trips.

This guide will explore the basics of PHEVs. We’ll cover the pros and cons, the best way to ship hybrid plugins, and everything you need to know to decide if one is right for you.

Hybrid core components

Before introducing the plug-in hybrid car, we first need to tell you about hybrid cars.

Hybrids hit the US market when the first generation Honda HMC quirked,
+ 2.17%
Insight rolled its covered wheels for the first time in dealership kits in 1999. Toyota TM,
+ 1.40%
The Prius followed in 2000. Most Americans have a good understanding of what hybrid cars have to offer.

Conventional hybrid cars use a gasoline engine and a small electric motor fueled by a small battery. They can operate their electric motor at neighborhood speeds. But as soon as the car accelerates past 30 mph, the gasoline engine starts to drive.

Hybrid vehicles recharge their batteries by capturing some energy from their brakes. This process, called regenerative braking, gives them excellent gas mileage.

Hyundai HYMTF,
The compact Elantra, for example, gets 33 mpg in the city and 43 mpg on the highway in its conventional fuel form. But the Elantra Hybrid manages a more impressive 53 mpg in the city and 56 mpg on the highway.

PHEVs work differently. A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) also uses a gasoline engine, electric motor, and battery. But its electric motor is more powerful. The plug-in hybrid battery is much larger – closer to the battery found in a pure electric vehicle (EV) like the Tesla TSLA,

Learn more: What are EV, BEV, HEV, PHEV? This is your guide to the types of electric cars

A Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) can accelerate to its maximum speed with electric power alone. The plug-in gasoline engine starts as soon as the battery runs out. The exact distance they can travel using electric power alone varies depending on the vehicle, weather and driving conditions. But most manufacturers advertise an electric-only range of 25 to 35 miles. Most drivers, in practice, get a slightly lower but similar number.

According to the US Department of Transportation, most Americans drive less than 25 miles per day. So, owning a PHEV is a bit like having an electric car from day to day. Your results may vary, but many of us can commute to work, take the kids to school, and do our daily errands in a PHEV without using a drop of gasoline.

But PHEV owners don’t need to worry about range restrictions the way electric vehicle owners do. You can take a weekend getaway or a road trip without complications on your PHEV. You’ll only feel the gasoline engine running somewhere around 27 miles.

PHEVs can’t get all the electricity they need from regenerative braking. They recharge using an outlet as electric vehicles do.

What type of PHEV should I buy?

In 2022, you can find plug-in hybrids available in most vehicle classes, from compact SUVs to luxury SUVs.

Are you looking for a family car? A Toyota Prius Prime or Hyundai Ioniq PHEV will likely do the trick.

Do you need a compact crossover? How about Toyota RAV4 Prime (Kelley Blue Book’s .) Award winning Best Buy among PHEVs) Or the all-new Hyundai Tucson PHEV? If you’re buying your own household stuff, the Ford Escape PHEV has a battery range of just 37 miles.

If you need a larger SUV, the Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring comes with a PHEV drivetrain and can tow up to 6,700 pounds.

The Chrysler Pacifica PHEV covers minivan buyers.

Going off-road? The Jeep Wrangler 4xe (Jeep says it’s called a “4-by-E”) offers an electric-only 22-mile range, and driving off-road in near-silent electric drive brings an almost mystical experience. You can hear the currents crossing it. The sound of your car engine does not scare the wildlife.

BMW and Audi make PHEV versions of many of their cars and SUVs among the luxury automakers. Even makers of ultra-luxury cars build PHEVs. The Bentley Bentayga PHEV gets 46 mpg equivalent — better than the 18 mpg in the standard Bentayga.

PHEVs can be as inexpensive as the Ioniq’s starting price of $26,700 or as expensive as a Ferrari RACE, if you have to ask it,
SF90 Stradale (986 horsepower and a whopping 8 miles of electric range).

A hybrid pickup truck or cargo truck has not yet reached the US market, but a persistent rumor is spreading within the auto industry that Ford F says,
The Ranger PHEV pickup will be introduced in a year or two.

Do PHEVs Get Tax Credits for Electric Vehicles?

When considering the price, remember that many PHEVs can get a federal tax deduction of up to $7,500.

The incentive begins to set in after the automaker sells 200,000 eligible vehicles, so not every PHEV on the market qualifies for the lump sum. Still, most of them do.

State, local, and other incentives designed to encourage you to buy a more fuel-efficient vehicle can help you pay the costs. Some electric companies even offer incentives to buyers of plug-in hybrid electric cars — after all, they want to buy more electricity and less gasoline.

Do I need a charger for electric vehicles?

PHEVs come with chargers, and you’ll want one. They can charge from a regular wall socket, but they will do so slowly.

Since they come with so many different battery sizes, it is impossible to give a simple estimate of how long an average PHEV will take to charge and under variable conditions. Most manufacturers only reveal how long it takes to charge the battery with a Level 3 fast charger if they post the charging time. These use direct current, and it is not possible to install one in your home.

ChargePoint, an electric vehicle charging network designed for commercial companies, has conducted a test on the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. Their results indicate that Mitsubishi fully charged from a standard household wall socket, or level 1 charger, in about eight hours. Using a level 2 charger, or an outlet similar to the kind you might use for a clothes dryer, Mitsubishi MMTOF,
Fully charged in less than four hours. Plugged into a commercial level 3 charger like the one you see outside malls and other retail and grocery stores, the EV charges 80% of its batteries in 25 minutes.

You may be satisfied with recharging the PHEV overnight using a standard wall socket. But, if you want the ability to recharge quickly, you will need to install a level 2 charger. Most car dealers can arrange for this as part of the sale and add the cost to the purchase price.

Apartment dwellers can ask their management company to install one if the building has not already provided them. Some building owners may be happy to offer it as a convenience, and programs offered by electric companies can drastically lower the cost for them.


1. Driving cost

Electricity costs less than gasoline. Driving a PHEV allows you to use the cheapest driving fuel available for most of your everyday needs.

2. Reduce your carbon footprint

Many car shoppers choose EVs because they like to reduce their daily emissions. Every little bit helps.

3. Gets you ready to move to EV

Most automakers plan to move to the entire or mostly EV range within the next decade. But America’s shipping infrastructure needs to catch up. Choosing a PHEV as your next vehicle means you can easily drive through today’s heavy-duty gas station infrastructure but still be ready for a decade from now when chargers will be more common than gas pumps.

4. Survive from power failure and gas shortage

Electric vehicle owners worry about losing transportation during extended power outages. Gas car owners worry about rising gas prices, which will be with us in and out of the country for the rest of our lives. PHEV owners can use any of the fuel sources that are cheaper and available at the time.

5. Get this huge tax cut

Most new PHEVs for sale remain eligible for a federal tax deduction of up to $7,500. When you file your taxes, you get some money, and the credit helps put off the rate hike for PHEVs.

See: Toyota will soon maximize its tax credits on electric vehicles


1. Initial cost

A hybrid version of the car can cost thousands more than a gas-powered car. The Lincoln Aviator, with a 3.0-liter V6, starts at $51,780 (plus $1,195 destination fee). Pricing for the Aviator Grand Touring PHEV starts at $68,680. Significant price differences are not unusual.

2. Complexity

More parts means more breakage. Electric motors and batteries offer very low failure rates, but repairing a two-part engine can cost more than repairing a simple gasoline transmission system as your vehicle ages.

3. You may want to install a fast charger

PHEVs can be charged from a standard wall socket. But not fast enough for many drivers. You may need to factor in the extra cost and hassle of installing a fast charger at home or work with your landlord or building manager to access one.

4. Unknown about PHEV’s resale value

PHEVs are a new technology that has not yet been popular in the used market, so its resale value is difficult to predict. However, we must note that skeptics raised this concern in the early days of hybrid technology, and hybrid cars have proven to hold their resale value at nearly normal levels.

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