What is a Plug-in Hybrid, and how do I get one?
A PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) has the following characteristics:
All HEVs (Hybrid Electric Vehicles) presently produced are ultimately just gasoline cars. They do reduce emissions, and they may improve fuel efficiency (compared to an equivalent, non-hybrid car). However, they are fueled exclusively by gasoline.
A Plug-in Hybrid car, in contrast, can also be fueled by electricity from an electrical outlet. Initially, a PHEV uses less gas than an HEV, because it can draw energy longer, from its larger battery. For example, a Toyota Prius' 50 mpg efficiency can be improved to about 100 mpg when operated as a PHEV. Eventually, when that storage of electrical energy is depleted, a PHEV is no more efficient than an HEV.
HEVs and PHEVs are rated by how far they can go just on electricity stored in their batteries. For example, a stock Toyota Prius is an HEV-2, meaning that its battery holds enough energy for about 2 miles. A Hybrids Plus Prius conversion is a PHEV-30, meaning that its battery holds enough energy for about 30 miles. Note that a Prius PHEV must still use some gasoline because, by design, its gas engine must operate when going 35 mph or more.
Presently, the best way to get a PHEV is to convert a production HEV. This entails:
Most PHEV conversions are done on the Toyota Prius because: