Driving Green: What are plug-in hybrid (PHEV) cars?

Charging ahead

What is a plug-in hybrid

THE PROBLEM with conventional hybrids is that they rely largely on an internal combustion engine for motive power. One of the selling points has been a hybrid’s ability to run purely on electric power but this was only possible a handful of miles at low speeds

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Enter the plug-in hybrid (or PHEV); a car with a larger battery that you could recharge from your home socket to give a much better electric-only range. The result is an electric-only range of more like 30 or 40 miles — probably good enough to get you to work without burning a drop of petrol or diesel.

However, this assumes that you have somewhere convenient to charge your car – and the same applies to E-REVs and pure-electric vehicles. If you have to park your car out on the street, you’ll not be able to trail a charging cable into the house and will need to find public charging points to keep the battery topped up. If you don’t charge up, the efficiency is massively reduced as you’re using your petrol or diesel engine to both move the car and generate electricity for the battery.

If you can charge up easily, there are benefits beyond emitting less pollution: the official CO2 figure will mean the tax man loves you and company car drivers will have massive Benefit in Kind reductions. You will likely be exempt from the London Congestion Charge, too.

In other words, it’s horses for courses: for some a PHEV will be ideal, for others it will be a waste of time.


Driving Green contents


Introduction to green driving

  1. What is a “green” car?
  2. What does Euro 6 mean when it comes to emissions?
  3. Why have green cars been developed?
  4. Nine tips for eco-driving

Choosing a green car

  1. What are hybrid cars?
  2. What are plug-in hybrid (PHEV) cars?
  3. What are extended-range electric vehicles (E-REVs)?
  4. What are hydrogen fuel cell vehicles?
  5. Are pure-electric cars suitable?
  6. Whatever happened to LPG (liquid petroleum gas)?
  7. What are biofuels?

Green car buying guides

  1. Driving’s top five electric cars
  2. Driving’s top five hybrids and E-REVs

Financial, environmental and practical implications of green motoring

  1. Electric car UK public charging point maps
  2. The truth about real-world mpg and fuel costs
  3. How much is VED (road tax) for green cars?
  4. Are electric cars expensive to insure?


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