Plug-In Hybrids

Gas: Optional

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) are outfitted with a battery pack sufficient to power the vehicle from 20 to 60 miles on battery charge alone. Considering that half the cars on America’s roads are driven 25 miles a day or less, a plug-in with a 25-mile range battery could eliminate gasoline use in the daily commute of millions of Americans. The cost of an equivalent electric gallon of gas is estimated to be less than $1.00.

PHEV technology is already available and functioning. DaimlerChrysler is producing a Sprinter Van prototype with an all-electric range of 20 miles. Also on the road are existing standard hybrids that have been converted to plug-ins.

The Difference Between Standard Hybrids and Plug-in Hybrids

Basically, PHEVs use the same technology as the popular hybrids on the road today, but have a larger battery that can be recharged by plugging into a standard home outlet.

Key PHEV Attributes:

  • Gets about twice the fuel economy of a conventional vehicle and 30-50% better fuel economy than a standard hybrid
  • Plugs into a standard (120-volt) home electrical outlet to receive charge
  • Depending on design and battery size can be driven 20 to 60 miles without the use of gasoline

Flexible Fuel PHEVs

PHEV technology can also be combined with existing flexible fuel technology to increase fuel efficiency even further as well as further reduce greenhouse gases and imported oil.

Technical Details

Both standard hybrids and PHEVs are powered by a combination of electricity and liquid fuels; however, PHEVs draw their charge not only from the engine and captured braking energy but from the electrical grid as well when they are plugged into a standard electrical socket. PHEVs have liquid fuel tanks and internal combustion engines, so they do not face the range limitation posed by electric-only cars.

Want to know more about PHEVs? Visit our Resources section. Or, see “All About Plug-in Hybrids” at, a California-based initiative working to promote the adoption of these efficient, non-polluting autos.

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