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Person opening charging door on Jeep Wrangler plug-in hybrid

Plug-in hybrids

Full EVs may get all the news, but plug-in hybrids (or PHEVs) offer a variety of benefits.

Available as sedans, crossover/SUVs, minivan, and wagons, PHEVs can operate on only the engine, only the battery, or both together for optimal efficiency and/or added performance.

Plug-in hybrids. The best of both worlds.

What to know about PHEVs

Officially called plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), but more commonly just “plug-ins”, they essentially operate like they have two motors—one runs on electric power, and one on gas. You can opt to use one, or the other, or both. Here's more detail on how they work.

PHEVs

HEVs

Motor

Uses a combo of both gas and electric

Uses a combo of both gas and electric

EV mode

15-40 miles (depending on model) before gas motor kicks in

1-2 miles (depending on model) before gas motor kicks in

Driving

Provides drivers ability to choose whether to run on gas, electric, or both

Some models allow ability to choose whether to run on gas, electric, or both, but some do not

Charging

Can plug in, leverage regenerative braking and/or draw excess power from gasoline engine

Never plug in; can leverage regenerative braking and/or draw excess power from gasoline engine

Battery

Larger battery with more EV power and higher weight

Smaller battery with less EV power and lower weight

† As noted, PHEVs provide drivers the ability to choose whether to run on gas, electric, or both. If you're not into guesswork though, you're in the clear—all PHEVs feature software to optimize which power source you use to provide the most efficient driving.

Pros & cons of plug-ins

A PHEV truly is the best of both worlds. With the benefits of an electric vehicle for short trips near home and the perks of a gas-powered engine for driving farther, you've got your bases covered. This means you can commute or run daily errands using only electric power, plus take a road trip to see family without concern for charging station.

Pros

  • EV-only for daily tasks

  • Fallback to gasoline for long drives or road-trips

  • Don't need to worry about charging stations (unless you want to)

Cons

  • Usually priced more than gas-only counterparts

  • Higher complexity could result in higher long-term maintenance costs

If you're looking for a deeper comparison of compare hybrid, electric, and gas, explore fuel types & powertrains to learn more about the engine choices for your next vehicle.

Research plug-in hybrid vehicles

FAQs about plug-in hybrids

If you typically drive 15-40 miles per day, you should consider a PHEV as they provide you the experience of driving an EV but with the fallback of a gasoline engine. Most PHEVs can fully recharge from a standard 120V wall-socket in 6-8 hours, so if you plug-in at home each night you will have a full charge by morning.

Helpful Tip: Even if you can get away with electric-only use, it is wise to use the gasoline engine from time to time to keep it operating smoothly. Plus, the gasoline engine can provide additional heat to warm the car in colder climates.

Understanding plug-in hybrids

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