Toyota Prius Prime Plug-in Hybrid

Range Anxiety? Try a Plug-in Hybrid!

Concerned all-electric cars do not have enough range to go from point A to B? You are not alone. This is known as range anxiety and it occurs to many electric vehicle (EV) curios shoppers. Those who are just not ready for an all-electric car look to plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). 

What is a Plug-in Hybrid?

A PHEV has both an on-board, rechargeable battery as well as a gas engine. Combined, a PHEV is the perfect blend for those looking to use electric range for commuting or around town trips and gas for long trips. Typically, a plug-in hybrid has around 20-40 miles of electric range and 300+ miles of gas range. 

BMW i3 - No Range Anxiety
BMW i3

Since a PHEV has both electric and gas, range anxiety is non-existent. Once the electric range is depleted, the car automatically begins to use gas. Charging a PHEV can be completed overnight at home using either a 120 volt outlet (regular house outlet) or a 240 volt outlet (like an electric dryer outlet).

Charging with 120 volts is known as Level 1 charging and charging with 240 volts is known as Level 2 charging. Fueling up the PHEV’s gas tank is just like any other gas car. 

Since electric power is by far more efficient than gas, PHEV drivers get to enjoy the low cost of operation during the vast majority of trips via EV mode.

For example, the Honda Clarity is EPA rated 110 MPGe on electric mode and 42 MPG on gas mode. And since the vast majority of trips are under 40 miles, most of the vehicle operation uses electric power and, therefore, is incredibly low cost compared to gas. Even when gas is used, because of the hybrid power, PHEVs are still more efficient than a regular gas car despite carrying two different powertrains. 

A Case for All-Electric Cars

Today’s all-electric cars (BEVs or Battery Electric Vehicle) provide 200-400 miles of range. For many, this is easily enough range to get them where they need to go. In fact, there have been many BEV drivers, such one with a Chevy Bolt per Cleantechnica and one with a Tesla Model 3 per Out of Spec Motoring, traveling across the United States.

Out of Spec Motoring: Cross Country Road Trip With a Tesla Model 3

With over 3,600 nation-wide DC Fast Charging (DCFC) stations (14,000 plugs/chargers), BEV drivers are just as capable as traveling long distances than with conventional gas cars (Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles or ICEV).

In fact, nearly all new DCFC stations are capable of over charging at 150-350 kW! In other words, a charge to 80% takes around 30 minutes. During these charging sessions, EV drivers grab a bite to eat, use the restroom, or stretch the legs.  

Nissan Leaf In Snow
Nissan Leaf

Nevertheless, some individuals still believe all-electric cars are just not for them yet. And that’s ok! PHEVs are a great stepping stone in the world of EVs. It is often said amongst PHEV owners that they wish they had more electric range. Once you experience the joy of an EV, you’ll wish you had more!

What Are Some Popular Plug-in Hybrids?

At the moment, the most popular PHEVs include the following:

ModelElectric RangeTotal RangeCost (After EV Tax Credit)
Toyota Prius Prime25640$24,028
Honda Clarity47340$26,820
BMW i3126200$41,795
Kia Niro PHEV26560$25,952
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid32520$34,240
Ford Escape PHEV (2020 Release)
Toyota RAV4 Prime (2020 Release)39300+$29,000

In just a few months, Toyota will release the RAV4 Prime and Ford will release the Escape PHEV. Both of these crossover plug-in hybrids are sure to be incredibly popular. Specifically, the RAV4 Prime is anticipated to cost less than $29,000 (after the EV tax credit) and provide nearly 40 miles of electric range.

On the other hand, the Escape PHEV is speculated to cost less than $28,000 (again after the tax credit) and provide over 30 miles of electric range. One big difference between the two is the RAV4 Prime will have AWD while the Escape PHEV will not. 

Closing Thoughts

Plug-in hybrids easily dispel range anxiety due to their electric/gas combo. As stated previously, PHEVs have electric range for short trips like the work commute and gas for long trips like road trips. Many PHEVs are available for less than the conventional gas or hybrid version after considering the EV tax credit. Check out Which Kia Niro Is Best: Hybrid, PHEV, or BEV? or Toyota Prius vs Prius Prime for more information about this. 

Personally, this is the reason why my wife and I bought our Chevy Volt. During the time, we believed there was not an all-electric car that met our needs. Therefore, we selected the Chevy Volt since it could cover all of my wife’s work commute on electric mode and still has gas for long road trips.

Range Anxiety - Chevy Volt
2016 Chevrolet Volt

In just a few short years later, there are now a lot more BEV offerings with more range and faster charging. Additionally, the number of DCFC stations have grown immensely. Still, PHEVs are a great way to avoid any lingering range anxiety. 

If you are thinking about electric cars (either BEVs or PHEVs) check out the Comprehensive Electric Car List, You can also download a PDF version by signing up for the monthly newsletter. The newsletter includes top articles, electric car news, notable graphs and charts, and more!