Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) are hybrid cars with an added battery. As the term suggests, plug-in hybrids - which look and perform much like "regular" cars - can be plugged in to a 120-volt outlet (for instance each night at home, or during the workday at a parking garage) and charged. Plug-ins run on the stored energy for much of a typical day's driving - depending on the size of the battery up to 60 miles per charge, far beyond the commute of an average American - and when the charge is used up, automatically keep running on the fuel in the fuel tank. A person who drives every day a distance shorter than the car's electric range would never have to dip into the fuel tank.
Electricity instead of gasoline
Most of the energy used by plug-ins comes from electricity and not from gasoline. That electricity can be generated efficiently and cleanly from America's abundant domestic energy resources, thus greatly reducing our dependence on imported oil. Unlike in the 1970s, when much of our electricity was generated from oil, today only 2% of our electricity is generated from oil. (Watch)
The plug-in hybrid drive system is compatible with all vehicle models and does not entail any sacrifice of vehicle performance or driver amenities. A mid size plug-in can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour at less than 9 seconds, sustain a top speed of 97 mph and maintain 120 mph for about two minutes even with a low battery.
Plug-ins estimated retail price is higher than that of corresponding conventional vehicles. The
difference in price depends on the size of the battery. Every additional 10 miles of vehicle
range in electric mode adds about $1,000 to the cost. Battery costs are the primary reason for
this incremental cost, and battery prices are likely to fall with increased production. The
price difference is partly offset by lower operating costs of plug-ins. Fuel costs for
conventional vehicles stand on 6 cents per mile while for plug-ins the cost is only 3 cents
per mile including the cost of electricity. The remaining difference can be covered by
federal and state tax credits and rebates designed to reward consumers for social benefits
such as low emissions and low consumption of petroleum-based fuels. Today, HEV owners qualify
for a one-time $2,000 Clean-Fuel Vehicle Federal tax deduction. Some states, New York for
example, offer additional tax credits as well as a partial refunds of the sales tax paid
upon purchase. In addition, since most drivers have easy access to the electricity grid, the
infrastructure costs for transitioning to plug-ins are significantly lower than for any other
next-generation fuel system.
Daimler Chrysler's plug-in hybrid electric Sprinter van.
Environmental impacts of plug-ins should be compared with those of conventional vehicles on the basis of emissions over the entire fuel-cycle ("well-to-wheels",) meaning the emissions associated with the extraction, processing, distribution and final use of the energy that propels the car. While for conventional vehicles these include emissions that result from extracting and processing crude oil as well as tailpipe emissions, for plug-ins we must take into consideration emissions produced by power plants providing the electricity for charging the vehicles' batteries. All told, a plug-in that is fully charged every night can reduce emissions by 50% due to the improved fuel economy and the non-production of tail pipe emissions during the electric driving phase.
Consumer surveys indicate strong market potential for
plug-in hybrids. Potential will grow over time as public
familiarity with the technology increases. The majority of
those surveyed preferred being able to charge their car at home over
having to fuel it at a gasoline station.
A study by the
Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI,) found that consumers like plug-ins because they would offer
the best of both worlds: the gas savings and emissions reduction benefits of battery powered electric
vehicles, and the range of a "normal" car.
America has a great many domestic resources, not the least of which is the
determination of the American people.
American ingenuity has always come through. We put
a man on the moon. We can become energy independent. Plug-in Hybrid vehicles allow us to
use made-in-the-USA energy for most of our driving, breaking the yoke of our dependence on oil.
It's time to set America free.
CalCars: Frequently Asked Questions
PNNL: IMPACTS ASSESSMENT OF PLUG-IN HYBRID VEHICLES ON ELECTRIC UTILITIES AND REGIONAL U.S. POWER GRIDS
EPRI: Comparing the Benefits and Impacts of Hybrid Electric Vehicle Options for Compact Sedan and Sport Utility Vehicles. Includes consumer acceptance survey results.
Comparing Hydrogen and Electricity for Transmission, Storage and Transportation
Using Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles to Dramatically Reduce Petroleum-Based Fuel Consumption and Emissions
NREL: Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles
Plug-In Hybrid Development Consortium
Plug In America