The Definitive Guide to Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles (PHEVs)

Mild hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and battery electric vehicles are a way of providing more energy-efficient transportation while lowering emissions, diminishing noise, and reducing operating costs. All 3 variations available are very different from their petrol and diesel counterparts so it’s important to fully understand the benefits and disadvantages of each before choosing to opt for an electric vehicle.

After offering the ultimate guide to battery electric vehicles, it’s only right that we continue this discussion with a definitive guide for plug-in hybrid vehicles. If you’re thinking that it’s time to commit to a greener car, but have a few anxieties around going fully electric – then a plug-in hybrid could be the car for you.

What is a Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV)?

A plug-in hybrid car, also known as PHEV, bridges the gap between BEVs and a conventional car with a petrol or diesel engine. These models use a rechargeable battery to power an electric motor and another fuel, such as petrol or diesel, to power an internal combustion engine.

At Donnelly Group, we have many PHEVs available including:

Toyota Prius Plug-In HybridVauxhall Grandland XRenault Captur Plug-In HybridCitroen C5 Aircross Plug-In HybridRange Rover Evoque PHEV.

How does a plug-in hybrid work?

PHEVs will typically run on electricity until the battery is depleted and once that happens, rather than having to stop and recharge mid-journey, the vehicle will automatically switch over to the internal combustion engine for the source of power. From listening to the radio to powering the wheels, plug-in hybrids harness energy from both the combustion engine and electricity.

The range will generally be around 20-30 miles, but some of the latest PHEVs have an official pure electric range of more than 50 miles depending on your driving style. This means, if you have a plug-in hybrid car you will be able to do most of your short journeys on solely electric power with no tailpipe emissions. One thing to consider is that the batteries can be heavy, so fuel economy when running on the combustion engine may not be as good as the non-plug-in alternatives. 

How do I charge a plug-in hybrid vehicle?

In terms of charging your PHEV, you can do it with either a conventional 3 pin plug, a wall charger or using a public charging point. Using the 3 pin plug is one of the slowest options for charging your plug-in hybrid, with a full charge taking anywhere up to 6 hours depending on the size of your car’s battery.

One of the most common methods of charging is installing the wall charger at your home, with a complete charge taking on average 3 hours, depending on the size of your car’s battery. Many EV owners opt for the at-home wall charger because it is more cost-effective than using the 3 pin plug or taking regular trips to public charge points.

Alternatively, there are many rapid charging points throughout the UK and Ireland and they will be able to charge your PHEV at a faster speed, these faster charging points are designed to make electric vehicles more appealing to drivers. 


Are there any advantages to driving a PHEV?

One of the main advantages of opting for a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is that it will lower CO2 emissions and have better fuel economy than conventional petrol or diesel cars. The main benefit is that you will be able to do shorter journeys using all-electric power, as long as you remember to charge the battery in between each trip. Electricity is much cheaper than petrol or diesel, so when you opt to run your car on electricity only it will cost you substantially less to run your car month to month.

Many people will opt for a plug-in hybrid as they take away that range anxiety that comes with a battery-electric vehicle because you won’t suddenly run out of charge, plug-in hybrids have the backup combustion engine meaning if you run out of charge – the car will automatically switch over to that power source and you can continue driving as normal.

Despite the battery adding additional weight to the car, many drivers still enjoy the instant torque that comes with driving a plug-in hybrid vehicle. Other benefits include running silently in towns and cities, limiting noise pollution.

Are plug-in hybrids suitable for company cars?

Hybrids are attractive to many companies as they use less fuel and produce fewer emissions, but they can also do wonders for a company’s reputation because it shows that they are conscious of the environment and actively doing their bit to make a change.

When it comes to running costs, they are less than diesel and petrol cars meaning companies can also save additional money because electricity is much cheaper than fossil fuels. Hybrids have lower fuel costs as they have a high fuel economy, using less fuel per mile than traditional cars, making them perfect for those employees who spend a bit of time out on the road.

Plug-In hybrids are also an affordable option for a company car because the rates of benefit in kind (BiK) payable on them are going to be significantly lower than that for petrol and diesel alternatives.

What’s the difference between a mild hybrid and a plug-in hybrid car?

There is a lot of terminology surrounding electric cars and with that, many people can become confused with the differences between a mild hybrid and a full hybrid (PHEV) vehicle. Firstly, all hybrid cars are powered by internal combustion engines and electric motors.

But, when it comes to a mild hybrid the two power sources operate completely independently of each other. Mild hybrids will only ever use the electric motor to support the engine during acceleration and cruising, you can’t actually use the electric motor to power the car on its own.

Plug-in hybrids then offer the best of both worlds in that you can run on electricity only if you wish, but always have that backup combustion engine. With a plug-in hybrid if you want to continue using the benefits of the electric motor you need to recharge regularly.

Is a plug-in hybrid right for me?

Many buyers find that PHEVs are the perfect combination of electric driving performance and efficiency without range anxiety. Depending on the make and model of the plug-in hybrid you purchase, you could get from 20-60 miles on an electric range, which is convenient for those doing a commute or city driving with access to a charging point either their workplace to charge in between journeys or at home. Determining whether or not a PHEV is right for you all depends on how you’re going to use your car, but for many people now it’s the perfect middle ground.

If you’re ready to start your plug-in hybrid journey but are unsure of where to start, get in touch with Donnelly Group today and talk to our experts – find a showroom near you!