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A Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) is a car or van powered by a battery and traditional fuel. These vehicles combine a conventional engine with an electric motor and a battery to support travelling longer distances, whilst not impacting the environment as much as fuel-based only vehicles.

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About PHEVs

Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles (PHEV) have all the functionality of full Hybrid technology, with the added advantage that they can be charged from an external electricity supply. The larger capacity of the battery makes them capable of zero emissions while driving for ranges of up to 30 miles, with the ability to switch to Hybrid mode to conserve battery life and to use petrol or diesel-only for longer journeys.

A Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle is sometimes also described as a:

  • Plug-in
  • Plug-in Hybrid

A Plug-in Hybrid is charged from an external power supply and, using regenerative braking, seamlessly selects and blends the engine and electric motor to deliver optimum performance and efficiency. Unlike their conventional counterparts, PHEVs also have an ‘inlet’ socket allowing them to be charged directly from an external electricity supply.

PHEVs offer a longer range and greater fuel flexibility, meaning they can be refuelled using petrol or diesel, or they can be charged directly using any suitable source of electricity. 

Capable of being used as a zero-emission vehicle, Plug-in Hybrids have been very popular as they offer both conventional and electric driving experiences.

However, with smaller battery backs, PHEVs are unable to match BEVs for electric driving range. They are often heavier and far more complex as two powertrain technologies have to be accommodated within the vehicle. Learn more about electric vehicles and the different types

The performance of Plug-in Hybrids is very similar to a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) or a Conventional Hybrid (HEV), depending on which vehicle ‘mode’ is selected. 

PHEVs tend to offer at least two driving modes: 

  1. ‘zero-emission’ which forces the vehicle to run on electricity (if charge is available)
  2. ‘eco’ during which the car decides how to most efficiently use conventional and/or electric power. 

A downside to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles is most models are unable to utilise the growing network of rapid chargers, resulting in longer journeys reverting to using conventional fuel.

Popular PHEVs

Some of our favourites include the:

Other Electric Vehicle Types

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Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV)
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Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV)
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Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicles (MHEV)
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