What is a Plug-In? A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), also known as a plug-in hybrid, is a hybrid vehicle with rechargeable batteries that can be restored to full charge by connecting a plug to an external electric power source. A PHEV shares the characteristics of both a conventional hybrid electric vehicle, having an electric motor and an internal combustion engine; and of an all-electric vehicle, also having a plug to connect to the electrical grid. Most PHEVs on the road today are passenger cars, but there are also PHEV versions of commercial vehicles and vans, utility trucks, buses, trains, motorcycles, scooters, and military vehicles.
In an all-electric car, high performance batteries store cleaner, cheaper, domestically produced electricity, and an electric motor provides propulsion with zero emissions. In a plug-in hybrid, which has more batteries than a conventional hybrid allow local all-electric, zero-emission driving with an internal combustion gas engine for longer distances.
Electric cars are very reliable. No oil changes, no tune ups. EVs have fewer than 1/10th as many parts as a gas car. There's no engine, transmission, spark plugs, valves, fuel tank, tailpipe, distributor, starter, clutch, muffler or catalytic converter.
The best way to reduce carbon emissions is to utilize the ever cleaner, greener, more renewable grid to power transportation. Only grid-rechargeable cars can attain the end goal of zero-emissions and ensure fuel price stability.
Today's Plug-Ins Use Batteries and Gas - They're more efficient than non-hybrids because they don't idle, they use smaller engines, and they recapture braking energy into a battery for later use. But tapping the full potential of hybrids can save much more gasoline and bring many other benefits.
Short trips? Zero Fossil Fuel Burned - PHEV's use no fossil fuels during their all-electric range. Taking a longer trip, then the car will switch over to gas burning. If your batteries have a longer range than your average daily commute, you'll rarely need gas. But if you forget to plug in or you have to go on a longer trip, you still have the same extended range you've always had from the gasoline engine -- while still driving a relatively clean and efficient hybrid.
Neo-cons and Greens Agree - Using electricity for your daily local travel improves "energy security." PHEVs have been endorsed by an alliance of environmentalists and national security conservatives who see it as the best way to rapidly reduce consumption of imported oil. They want car makers to add the "flex-fuel" feature (at a cost of $150) so PHEVs can run on biodiesel or cellulosic ethanol. That's how PHEVs could get 500 miles/gallon of gasoline (+ electricity + biofuels).
Emergency Home Backup Power - Suitably equipped hybrids and PHEVs can serve as mobile electricity generators after disasters and outages, providing low-emission 120-volt power for days to emergency centers and individual homes.
Electricity: Key Helper on Global Warming - Even though over half of the nation's electricity is produced from coal, when you count all the emissions from the oil well or mine to the car's wheels, an electric vehicle produces about half the greenhouse gases of a gasoline car. These excellent numbers improve as utilities are increasingly required to use cleaner and more renewable energy. California's new law requires 30% greenhouse gas reductions in new vehicles within 10 years; PHEVs could double that goal starting in two years.
Save Money in the Long Run - Mass-produced PHEVs can pay for themselves in higher fuel savings and reduced maintenance costs. In high volumes, car makers could sell PHEVs for $3,000 more than current hybrids, and $5,000 more for hybrid SUVs. Early adopter buyers will pay extra for this "green feature," just as current car buyers pay for larger engines or leather seats without expecting a return. The bonus? Projections based on real-world experience from electric car fleets demonstrate that PHEVs have a lower lifetime cost of ownership than any other vehicle type.