Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV)
PHEVs take the hybrid story further.
Like a regular hybrid, they have an internal combustion engine and a fuel tank.
They also have an electric motor/s but get a bigger battery pack than a plain old hybrid.
That means they can be recharged externally to travel further on electricity, usually between 40km and 100km.
So, if you want you can run a PHEV almost entirely on electricity.
But there’s a petrol engine there to allow you to take off on the big road trip and treat them the same as you would an internal combustion engine car. Your only constraint is the location of the next service station.
Keep in mind that once the battery pack is depleted, you’ll be running solely on petrol and typically using more of it than a regular hybrid. That’s because that large battery pack is heavier, making the engine work harder.
PHEVs are also less efficient when running in electric mode. That’s because the electric motor has to move an engine and gearbox that are at that moment contributing nothing to the forward motion of the car. They’re a temporary dead weight.
PHEVs can also be expensive, often bringing a $10-20,000 price premium over a similar model without the hybrid bits.
That means the payback in fuel savings could be a decade or more away.
Keep in mind, too, that they need to be serviced just like a petrol car, even if you’re running yours primarily on electricity.
Throw it all into the mix and it’s no surprise some are predicting plug-in hybrids will be the first of the electrified tech to be phased out.
Sure, PHEVs are playing a role now, but they’re arguably more relevant in Europe, where some cities demand vehicles that are zero-emissions while in the CBD.
PHEV benefits will also be diluted when the EV fast-charging network expands. Even today some EVs can add a few hundred kilometres of range after just 15 minutes of charging. Once those charging stations become more prolific – and future EVs charge even faster – the argument for a PHEV will be further diminished.
Pros: All-electric driving range without the range-anxiety.
Cons: Expensive, compromised as an EV and compromised when running on petrol.