All Electric Vehicles

The Plug In Hybrid: Plug In Hybrids - Advantages and Disadvantages

"The Plug in Hybrid is an Electric Car with an Insurance Policy".

When it comes to Plug in Hybrids - the idea is simple: A combination of a battery-powered motor that can be recharged at home and an internal combustion engine. The first for short - and sweet-smelling trips, the other for longer mess-up-the-planet trips!

plug in hybrid

The idea of Plug-in Hybrids as the "stepping stone" between today's gas-guzzlers and All-Electric Plug in and Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars seems to have gripped the imagination of major Car manufacturers.

You'd get the impression from most motor shows:
  • In a few years we'll have Plug-in Hybrids EVERYWHERE - a mere option on LOTS of todays vehicles.
  • They'll kickstart the car industry all over - and help save the planet too!

plug in hybrid

So - how do they work anyway???

Right - simply put, they have a normal (but often rediced-size) internal combustion engine - with electric bits added. I have put more about How Electric Vehicles Work here which give more on just the electric side of things.

They certainly sound promising - especially when you look at Which All-Electric Cars are available now - and as I search for the right Electric Transport for my family.

So - I think I can take it for granted that there isn't much out there at the moment. However, it looks like the future is CHOC-A-BLOC with promise when it comes to a Plug In Hybrid.

To put it in perspective - Toyota's goal is to sell one million gas-electric hybrids a year in the next few years.

With that in mind - what plug-in Hybrids should we expect to see on the roads between 2010 and 2012??

plug in hybrid

Let's start with Toyota. It looks like Toyota is FINALLY going to put the Plug-in Prius into production. Hoping to have it sometime in 2012 and already have a trial with the government here in Ireland. The big challenge there seems to be switching from Nickel-Metal Hydride to Lithium Ion Batteries. They'll also be launching a plug-in Lexus around the same time.

Have a look at the plug-in prius at the 2011 Dublin motor show below.

One of the most non-descript plug-ins is the BYD F3DM (now there's a sexy name!) - which is ALREADY FOR SALE IN CHINA for about 20000 USD.

plug in hybrid
I think we need a LITTLE BIT OF SPICE after that! In early 2009, Henrik Fisker, the ex BMW and Aston Martin designer and CEO of Fisker Coachbuild introduced his production-ready Fisker Karma plug-in series hybrid luxury car at a price of $87,900 USD.

plug in hybrid
The BMW i8 concept is another plug-in hybrid sports car due out in the next few years. It's so futuristic you wonder if you will be driving it or if it's going to be your robot butler driving you!

plug in hybrid
Finally - the last in a short extract from a long list of promised plug-ins is the Chevy Volt. Feels like it's being put forward as the Saviour of Detroit - I's been on sale in the US since December 2010 and it'll be available in Europe as the Opel Ampera in 2011.

OK - so what are the downsides of plug in hybrids (apart from not really being around yet)? There's a few that I can see:
  • They seem to be competing head to head with Gas Guzzlers. Will they be watered-down engines to accommodate all the Electrics?
  • Lots of unproven technology with Lithium Ion batteries - at least in mass production. A big recall could do lots of bad PR.
  • Could be a problem finding a place to chargeup - which means you take the "lazy" option of petrol power most of the time.
  • Price! Price! - are they going to be way more expensive than just the one type of motor. This was a problem with the Prius for many years.
  • Are they too little, too late - when it comes to really reducing emissions?

In conclusion: It seems to me that out of all the options for Electric Car Transport for me and my family - the Plug-in Hybrid is probably the best way to go - especially compared with full Electric Cars. But we'll be waiting a couple of years if we want any sort of choice. In the meantime, I must get my hands on those Electric Scooters and Electric Bicycles on the market at the moment!

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