Electric cars

Plug-in hybrid vehicles

Plug-in hybrid vehicles

On the horizon of the automotive industry, hybrid and plug-in cars shine with a promise of efficiency and sustainability. These electric vehicles represent a convergence of technologies, fusing the traditional power of the internal combustion engine with the innovation of electric propulsion.

In this article, we will address the operation, benefits and trends of hybrid and plug-in cars with a comparison table with some prominent models present on the market.

What are hybrid and plug-in cars?

Hybrid cars combine two propulsion systems: a conventional internal combustion engine and one or more electric motors. These vehicles can operate using only the gasoline engine, only the electric motor or a combination of both, which optimizes fuel consumption and reduces polluting gas emissions.

On the other hand, plug-in cars, also known as PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles), are an evolution of conventional hybrids. These vehicles have larger batteries that can be recharged by plugging them into an external electricity source. This allows them to travel longer distances in fully electric mode, further reducing their dependence on fossil fuels.

Technical operation

The operation of a hybrid car is based on a complex energy management system that uses both the internal combustion engine and the electric motor to propel the vehicle. When the driver accelerates gently, the electric motor is primarily responsible for providing the necessary power. However, during hard acceleration or at higher speeds, the internal combustion engine kicks in to provide additional power.

The combustion engine can be used to charge the electric battery while driving, provide additional power when needed, or to work in conjunction with the electric motor to maximize fuel efficiency.

On the other hand, plug-in cars offer the possibility of recharging their batteries through an external power outlet. This allows the vehicle to operate in fully electric mode for a set range of kilometres, resulting in zero emissions and quiet driving.

Once the battery charge is depleted, the vehicle automatically switches to hybrid mode, using the gasoline engine as the primary power source.

Electric motor

Hybrid and plug-in vehicles use synchronous or asynchronous alternating current electric motors.

Synchronous motors stand out for their high efficiency and ability to generate high torque from start-up, while asynchronous motors are known for their constructive simplicity and low cost. The location of these engines can vary, being commonly placed in the wheels, the rear axle or next to the internal combustion engine in the transmission.

Additionally, some vehicles may incorporate more than one electric motor to improve traction or efficiency. These motors are controlled by energy management systems that regulate the amount of energy drawn from the battery and combustion engine.

Internal combustion engine

The combustion engine of a plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) is similar to that of a conventional car in many ways, but is integrated into a more complex propulsion system that includes additional electrical components. Typically, these engines are four-stroke Otto cycle engines, which operate by igniting a fuel-air mixture in a combustion chamber.

This internal combustion engine can be gasoline or diesel and is designed to operate efficiently over a range of driving conditions. It is often smaller than a conventional car engine as it is designed to work together with the electric motor to provide propulsion.

Advantages and benefits of hybrids and plug-ins

  • Energy efficiency: By combining the internal combustion engine with electric propulsion, hybrid and plug-in cars achieve greater efficiency in fuel consumption, which translates into lower operating costs and a smaller carbon footprint.
  • Reduction of emissions: The ability to operate in electric mode significantly reduces emissions of polluting gases, thus contributing to the improvement of air quality and the mitigation of climate change.
  • Reduced dependence on fossil fuels: By offering the option to run on electricity, plug-in vehicles reduce dependence on fossil fuels, providing a more sustainable alternative compatible with the transition to a low-carbon economy.
  • Improved driving experience: Combining the power of the electric motor with the smoothness of electric propulsion offers a quieter, smoother driving experience, as well as greater acceleration response.
  • Incentives and subsidies: In many countries, owners of hybrid and plug-in cars can benefit from tax incentives, toll discounts and free parking, making the purchase and use of these vehicles even more attractive.

Comparison between plug-in and non-plug-in hybrid vehicles

Below we offer you a comparison between plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) and non-plug-in hybrid vehicles (HEV) in several key aspects:


PHEVs are typically more efficient than HEVs due to their ability to run on electricity for certain distances. This allows them to reduce fuel consumption and emissions compared to HEVs on short journeys.

In contrast, plug-in hybrids (HEVs) are less efficient than PHEVs due to their inability to run solely on electricity. However, they are still more efficient than conventional vehicles, using technologies such as energy regeneration during braking to improve fuel efficiency.


PHEVs tend to produce fewer emissions than HEVs, especially when driven in electric mode. However, if the battery is depleted and the vehicle operates solely on the combustion engine, emissions may be similar to those of an HEV.

Non-plug-in hybrids emit less polluting gases than conventional vehicles, but more than PHEVs, especially in heavy traffic situations where the internal combustion engine is more active.

Electrical autonomy

Plug-in hybrids (PHEV) offer a limited electric range that varies depending on the model and battery capacity. They can typically travel short distances in electric mode, which can range from a few kilometers to more than 50 kilometers, depending on the model.

On the contrary, non-plug-in hybrids (HEV) do not have electrical autonomy, since they cannot be plugged in to recharge their batteries. They depend solely on the energy generated by the internal combustion engine and the regeneration of energy during braking.

Fuel costs

Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) typically have lower fuel costs than HEVs, especially if they are frequently used in electric mode. However, if the battery runs out and the vehicle operates solely on the combustion engine, the costs can be similar to those of an HEV.

Non-plug-in hybrids typically have higher fuel costs than PHEVs, as they cannot be recharged from an external source and rely exclusively on the internal combustion engine.

Maintenance costs

Maintenance costs for plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) can be slightly higher than non-plug-in hybrid cars due to the additional complexity of the electric propulsion systems and the need to keep the battery in optimal condition.

In contrast, maintenance costs for non-plug-in hybrids (HEVs) are typically slightly lower than PHEVs, as they do not have the added complexity of a rechargeable electric propulsion system.

Comparison between hybrid and plug-in models

Below we present a comparison table of different plug-in hybrid models with their indicative prices and main characteristics.



Indicative price (USD)

Indicative price (EUR)

Charging speed (kW)

Electric range (km)

Toyota Prius Prime


$28,000 - $34,000

€25,000 - €30,000



Chevrolet Volt


$33,000 - $38,000

€29,000 - €34,000



Honda Clarity Plug-In


$33,000 - $38,000

€29,000 - €34,000



Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In


$26,000 - $31,000

€23,000 - €28,000



Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV


$36,000 - $42,000

€32,000 - €37,000



BMW 530e


$54,000 - $60,000

€48,000 - €53,000



Audi A3 e-Tron


$39,000 - $44,000

€34,000 - €39,000



Volvo XC60 T8


$53,000 - $59,000

€47,000 - €52,000



MG HS Plug-In Hybrid


$30,000 - $35,000

€27,000 - €31,000



BYD Qin Plus


$30,000 - $35,000

€27,000 - €31,000



KIA Niro Plug-In Hybrid


$29,000 - $34,000

€26,000 - €30,000



Peugeot 3008 Hybrid


$35,000 - $40,000

€31,000 - €36,000



Citroën C5 Aircross Hybrid


$33,000 - $38,000

€29,000 - €34,000



Volkswagen Passat GTE


$38,000 - $43,000

€34,000 - €39,000



Data de publicació: April 11, 2024
Última revisió: April 11, 2024