What is a plug-in hybrid?
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) utilise a combination of a petrol or diesel internal combustion engine (ICE) and an electric motor as a source of power. Expect an all-electric driving range of approximately 20 to 50 miles, with the BMW X5 Plug-in Hybrid achieving an outstanding 54 miles.
Whilst driving in pure electric mode, PHEV cars produce zero tailpipe emissions.
The car's engine will automatically engage and the vehicle will transition from fully-electric driving to hybrid, working in the same way as a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV), when battery charge is running low or more power is needed when travelling at higher speeds.
PHEVs need plugging-in to charge the battery to restore the ability to drive in all-electric mode. Charging can be completed at home or work using either a 3-pin domestic plug socket or a dedicated wall box. Alternatively, there are thousands of public charging stations located around the UK that can charge from 10 to 80 percent capacity in as little as 30 minutes, depending on the model of car.
Should I buy a plug-in hybrid car?
How does a plug-in hybrid work?
PHEVs have the ability to drive further than full hybrids in all-electric mode thanks to a larger battery. This battery can provide a range that is sufficient for the average UK commuter to get to work and back each day. Once the battery is depleted, the car can simply be plugged-in to charge ready for the next day.
Most short journeys can be completed in pure electric mode, which offers zero tailpipe emission driving.
Longer journeys are still possible, but if the battery is depleted the ICE will engage and work in conjunction with the electric motor to provide lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions compared to a traditionally powered car.
Intelligently, the battery can also gain charge from regenerative braking. During braking, the electric motor acts as a generator; capturing and storing energy that would usually be lost when decelerating. This energy is then stored in the battery and can be used to assist with powering the vehicle.
What are the different types of hybrid and electric vehicles?
Plug-in hybrid frequently asked questions
Charging a plug-in hybrid car is simple and can be completed at home, work or at one of thousands of public charging stations located around the UK.
PHEVs have a larger battery, than HEVs, which enables them to travel further in all-electric mode. Also, PHEVs need plugging-in to charge the battery.
- Significantly lower CO2 emissions
- Enhanced fuel economy
- More cost-effective to run (charging is cheaper than refuelling)
- Kinder to the environment
- Low or zero road tax (VED)
- Avoid paying charges for London's Congestion Charge or London's Ultra Low Emissions Zone
- The engine provides back-up to the battery so no 'range anxiety'
PHEVs tend to have lower rates of benefit in kind (BIK) tax than petrol and diesel alternatives so they make cost-effective company cars.
All-electric range varies across models but you can expect anything from about 20 to 50 miles, the BMW X5 Plug-in Hybrid has an impressive range of up to 54 miles.
If you buy a brand-new plug-in car for less than £35,000, the Government will provide a maximum grant of up to £2,500.
Find your perfect plug-in hybrid car
A future ban has been imposed by the Government on selling cars which run purely on petrol or diesel, which will come into place in 2030. Plug-in hybrids manage to avoid this ban as long as their all-electric range is considered a 'substantial distance', which has resulted in manufacturers expanding their existing range to include more PHEV models.