A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHV), or plug-in hybrid is a hybrid electric vehicle that utilizes rechargeable batteries or another energy storage device that can be restored to full charge by connecting a plug to an external electric power source (usually a standard electric wall socket).

A PHEV shares the characteristics of a conventional hybrid electric vehicle, having an electric motor and an internal combustion engine (ICE), and an all-electric vehicle, 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. The cost of electricity to power plug-in hybrids for the all-electric operation has been estimated at less than one-quarter of the price of gasoline in California.

Compared to conventional vehicles, PHEVs reduce local air pollution and petroleum dependence. PHEVs may reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming compared with traditional vehicles. PHEVs also eliminate the range anxiety associated with all-electric vehicles because the combustion engine works as a backup when the batteries are depleted, giving PHEVs a driving range comparable to other vehicles with gasoline tanks.

Plug-in hybrids use no fossil fuel at the point of use during their all-electric range. Greenhouse gas emissions attributable to the operation of plug-in hybrids during their all-electric range depend on the type of power plant used to meet additional demand on the electrical grid at the time and place where the batteries are charged. (See Greenhouse gas emissions below.) Greenhouse gas emissions are essentially zero if the batteries are charged directly from renewable sources off the electrical grid.

Other benefits include improved national energy security, fewer fill-ups at the filling station, the convenience of home recharging, opportunities to provide emergency backup power in the home, and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) applications.

Several countries, including the United States and several European countries, have enacted laws to facilitate the introduction of PHEVs through grants and tax credits, emissions mandates, and financing for research and development of advanced batteries and other related technologies. Chinese battery manufacturer and automaker BYD Auto released the F3DM to the Chinese fleet market in December 2008 and began sales to the general public in Shenzhen in March 2010.

General Motors began deliveries of the Chevrolet Volt in the United States in December 2010, becoming the first plug-in hybrid available for retail sales in the American market. The number of series production highway legal plug-in hybrids available for retail sales is limited to over 15 models, including some limited production luxury sports cars, and available mainly in the United States, Canada, Western European countries, Japan, and China. Over 260,000 highway-capable plug-in hybrid, electric vehicles have been sold worldwide since December 2008.

The Chevrolet Volt family, including its siblings Opel/Vauxhall Ampera, is the world’s best-selling plug-in hybrid, combined sales of over 87,000 units up to November 2014.

The Toyota Prius PHV is the second top-selling plug-in hybrid with global sales of over 65,300 units, followed by the Mitsubishi Outlander P-HEV with about 33,000 units. The United States is the market segment leader, with over 126,000 plug-in hybrids delivered, followed by the Netherlands with more than 32,000 units and Japan with about 31,000 units.

Leave a Comment