Plug-In Hybrids

   


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General Motors

General motors is now selling the Chevrolet Volt nation wide.  This car is a Plug-in Parallel hybrid, that is driven by an electric motor coupled to a grid chargeable battery pack.  There is also a small gas powered engine that drives a generator that can be used to power the volt when the pack voltage drops below a set limit.  A power Split device similar to the one in Toyota and Ford hybrids allows the engine to provide power directly to the wheels in some instances, normally when the car is travelling above about 70mph and the battery pack is depleted.

 

GM made some major improvements to the Volt for the 2016 model year and followed that soon after with further tweaks for the 2017 model year.  The battery pack capacity was increased from 16KWh to 18.4KWh and now provides an EPA estimated range of 53 miles of electric only propulsion and this is close to what drivers are reporting in real world driving.  The 1.4 liter 4 cylinder gas engine was replaced with a 1.5 liter 4 cylinder that now runs on regular gas, dropping the need to fill up with premium.  The gas engine is rated at a combined 42 mpg.

 

Charging is done via an SAE J1772 compliant charging port that allows the use of either a 220V or 110V outlet.  It is expected that most Volt buyers will have a 220V interface installed in their garage as a full charge at 110V takes about 13 hours while the onboard 3.3KW charger can fill up the car in about 4.5 hours at 220V.  The car also comes with regenerative braking.

 

The Volt, now has a third seat over the battery tunnel allowing the car to take 5 people although the middle seat in the rear would be very uncomfortable for a long drive, The top speed is 100mph with a 0-60 time of 8.4 seconds.  There is not going to be a European version of the 2016 version. 

 

The Volts base price is around $33,220 before Federal and State incentives. 

 

It has a bumper to bumper warranty of 3 years or 100,000 miles while the battery pack will be warranted for 8 years or 100,000 miles.  The car is rated at 93mpge in electric mode and 37mpg when the gas engine is running by the EPA.

 

Check out my Test Drive of the Chevy Volt

 

Orders can be placed directly with a participating dealer.  To find the closest dealer to you check out their Dealer Locator

 

To order the Opel Ampera version go to the Opel-ampera site or visit your local Opel/Vauxhall dealership


Cadillac

5/18/2016 - GM has now ceased production of the ELR

In December 2013 Cadillac began deliveries of its first plug-in hybrid called the ELR.  The ELR uses the same powertrain as the Volt with a 16.5 KWhr lithium battery pack driving the electric motor and the same 4 cylinder, 1.4 liter gas engine driving a generator when the battery pack is low on charge.

 

The body and interior is where the car differs, and it looks much more like a Cadillac with leather seating and a whole list of safety features such as collision warning that move the car up into the luxury category.  The change in body design increases weight and lowers the coefficient of drag by about .3 which gives the ELR slightly less all electric range and lower fuel economy than its down market sibling.

 

GM gives the electric only range at 35 miles which sounds about right Once the gas engine kicks in GM says the car will get a combined fuel efficiency of 33mpg.  This is a little lower than the Volt but pretty good for a Cadillac.  Top speed is expected to be around 106mph.  Like the Volt the ELR also requires premium gasoline.

 

It takes about 5 hours to fully charge the battery from a 220V (level 2) charger.  GM says that the time taken when using the supplied 110V charger is from 12.5 to 18 hours depending on outside temperature.

 

Cadillac ELR is $75,900 including destination chargers but before Federal and State incentives.


Audi

The A3 e-Tron Sportsback is now being sold both is Europe and nationwide in the US.  The car is a plug-in hybrid which has an EPA rated all electric range of 16 miles from its 8.8KWhr lithium-ion battery pack.  This pack can be charged in about 2.5 hours using a 220V 16amp outlet.  When more power is needed or after the pack is depleted the car's 1.4 Liter turbo charged 4 cylinder engine cuts in.

 

The gas engine can produce 150hp while the electric motor puts out 102hp but in combination they can power the A3 e-Tron from 0 - 60 in a little under 7.6 seconds.  Top speed for this car will be 138 mph. The EPA rates the car with an overall fuel economy of 86 mpg-e.

 

The system comes with several driving modes including Auto which lets the system try and determine the best combination of the gas and electric motors. electric only mode that allows the car to be driven all EV until the battery is depleted, Hold mode that holds the charge in the battery so that you can drive all electric when you get to your destination, and charge mode that uses the engine to re-charge the battery.

 

This 4 door hatchback can seat up to 5 people.  

 

The base price in the US is $37,900.


Toyota

Plug-in Prius

5/18/2016 - Toyota has now ceased production of the Prius Plug-in it will be replaced by the Prius Prime in 4th quarter 2016

Toyota Has begun delivering the Plug-in Prius in both the US and Japan.  In the US the car is now available in all states.

 

The Plug-in Prius is basically a traditional Prius with a large lithium battery replacing the NiMH pack on the conventional hybrid version.  The battery weighs in at only 330lbs and is enough to drive the Prius in EV mode for about 11 miles.  Charging can be done from a standard 110V outlet in just 3 hours and from a 220V charging station in half that time.  The pack will take approximately 3KWhrs to fully charge.

 

The EV only range is intended for use in city driving and the engine will come on when the speed on the Prius exceeds 62mph such as when driving on the freeway.  Once the battery charge reaches a preset level, or when the car goes faster than 62mpn, the car functions like a conventional hybrid offering EPA highway fuel economy of 51mpg.  I have also been given to understand that the car can also start the internal combustion engine under harsh acceleration.  

 

The Plug-in Prius is meant for people with short commutes, say 10 miles or less each way, where the conventional hybrid is often at its worst.  With lots of short trips, and frequent recharging, the Plug-in Prius should be able to run using very little gasoline while still giving very good fuel economy numbers on a long trip.

 

The Plug-in Prius is available in two trim levels, the base trim will start at around $32,000 with the advanced trim starting at about $39,000.  It can be found at Toyota dealerships nation wide.

 

Check out my Test Drive of the Plug-in Prius

 

Prius Plug-in long term test:

  1. Plug-In Prius the First week

  2. Plug-in Prius the First Month

  3. Plug-in Prius Month 2

  4. Plug-in Prius Road Trip

  5. Plug-in Prius First Service

  6. Prius Plug-in Second Road Trip

  7. Prius Plug-in First Year               


Ford

Ford is now selling the C-MAX Energi, a plug-in hybrid version of their C-Max crossover.  The C-Max Energi is driven by a 7.6 KW Lithium battery pack that gives it an EPA estimated all electric range of 21 miles.  Once the battery pack is depleted the car switches to hybrid mode. The 2.0L Atkinson cycle engine which returns an average of about 43mpg once the.

 

Like the C-Max hybrid the car is driven through a transmission that consists of two electric motors and planetary gears.   Stopping is accomplished by regenerative braking coupled with front and rear power assisted disk brakes.  The car also features power assisted steering

 

The car has seating for 5 adults in comfort.  The large battery pack that sits under the floor behind the rear seats reduces luggage capacity from 24.5 cubic feet in the C-Max Hybrid to 19.2 cubic feet in the C-Max Energi.  The C-max Energi also features a larger gas tank.  At 14 gallons capacity it holds half a gallon more than the tank in the hybrid.

 

Ford began selling the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid version of their Fusion sedan in February, 2013.  The Fusion Energi is driven by a 7.2 KW Lithium battery pack that gives it an EPA estimated all electric range of 21 miles.  Once the battery is depleted, or the maximum EV only speed of 85mph is exceeded, the car switches to a 2.0 liter 4 cylinder Atkinson cycle engine and the car functions like a conventional hybrid. 

 

Like the Fusion hybrid the car is driven through a transmission that consists of two electric motors and planetary gears.   Stopping is accomplished by regenerative braking coupled with front and rear power assisted disk brakes.  The car also features power assisted steering. When in HEV mode the car is EPA rated at 44 city, 41 highway, for a combined consumption of 43mpg.  Overall the EPA rates the Fusion Energi at 108 mpge city, 92mpge highway, for a combined total fuel economy of 100mpge.

 

The battery pack takes up quite a bit of room in the trunk dropping available trunk space from 12 cu ft. in the Fusion Hybrid to just 8.2 cu ft. in the Fusion Energi.  Interior volume for the passengers remains at 102.8 cu ft. so it should be able to seat 5 in comfort.

 

Like the Ford Focus EV the C-Max Energi and Ford Fusion Energi will only be available through a limited number of dealerships, currently about 200 but expected to grow to 900 dealerships in 50 states by the mid-2013.  Prices start at $37,995 for the base SE version.

 

To find a dealer use the Ford Dealer Locator page


Honda

Honda is recently shown a Plug-in Hybrid version of its popular Accord Sedan.   The Honda Accord PHEV is different from ealier Honda hybrids.  Instead of the Integrated Motor Assist drive train that has been in all ealier Honda hybrids the Accord PHEV features a dual mode hybrid system similar to that found in the Toyota and Ford hybrids. The Accord Hybrid offers an EPA estimated 13 miles of EV only range before the internal combustion engine kicks in.  This probably means that the Accord is less suseptible to turning on the ICE during heavy accelleration than the Prius PHEV.

 

The Honda PHEV will be the first car to meet California's new SULEV20 standards and is EPA rated at 115 mpge.  Fuel economy in HEV mode is 49 mpg city, 45 mpg highway, and 47 mpg combined.

 

The car is powered by a 6.7 KWhr Lithium-ion battery pack that can be recharged in about 3 hours from a standard 110V outlet or in about half that time using a 220V J1772 EVSE.  The onboard charger is the same 6.6KW charger that is used in the Fit EV so charging in as little as an hour is possible.

 

The car is driven by 124KW electric motor in EV mode which is suplemented by  a 2.0 Liter, 4 cylinder Atkinson cycle engine in HEV mode.

 

The 2014 Accord Plug-in went on sale in California and New York starting on January 15, 2013 and will be rolled out nation wide some time in the Summer starting at a base price of 39,780.  This price includes lots of features like adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring.


Porsche

Porsche has a plug-in hybrid on sale, the Panamera S E-Hybrid.  This four seat sedan is built off the same platform as the standard wheelbase Panamera S.

 

It is designed as a hybrid rather than a range extending EV so if you punch the accelerator too hard the gas motor will kick in.  To make it easier to keep the car in electric only mode the accelerator pedal gets harder to push as you approach the point where the gas engine turns on

 

It offers an electric only range of about 22 miles from the 9.4KWhr lithium battery at speed up to 83mph after which the electric motor will kick in to push the car up to its top speed of 167mph.  The car can go from 0-60 in 5.2 seconds.

 

It takes about 2.5 hours to fully charge the battery from a 220V (level 2) charger.  Porsche also offers the E-Charge mode that will charge the batteries as you drive.  This means that you can choose to charge the battery from the gas engine while cruising on the freeway for around 23 miles so you can drive electric only when you reach your destination.  This comes at a cost in terms of lower fuel economy.

 

Base price for the Panamera S E-Hybrid is $99,000


Fisker Karma

Note: Fisker has a new owner who is planning to restart production. 

Fisker is a start-up company based in Southern California that has developed a plug-in hybrid called the Karma.  The Karma is a serial hybrid which offers an all electric range of around 50 miles from its 22KWHr lithium-ion battery pack, after which a small gasoline engine will start up to keep the batteries charged 

 

Fisker's Q DRIVE technology gives the  car a top speed of 125 mph and will go from 0-60mph in under 6 seconds.  There are two driving modes, economy mode that offers reduced power to provide maximum range, and sport drive mode that allows full power to kick in.  The car also offers regenerative braking and an optional full sized solar roof.  To enhance their green image, no animal products are used on the Karma, and the wood used in the interior will come from trees damaged by California wild fires.

 

The initial vehicle is a 4 seat sedan, which will be built in Finland.  It is targeted at the luxury market and will be followed by a convertible version.  The car sells at a base price of around $103,000.  

 

Fisker has already started development of a lower cost sedan under a project dubbed Nina but that isn't expected until toward the end of 2012.

 

The Fisker Karma is being sold through a group of about 45 retailers but 2011 production is already sold out.

 

In Santa Monica, CA they are available through Fisker of Santa Monica

In Irvine, CA the can be purchased at Fisker of Orange County

 

In Canada they can be found at Fisker of Calgary and Fisker of Toronto


BYD

Chinese battery maker BYD has started selling a plug-in Hybrid based on its F3 model.  The car, called the F3DM uses BYD's Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries to give the car an electric only range of 100KM (62 miles) and a top speed of 160kph (99mph).  The battery pack is expected to provide about 2000 cycles (about 120,000 miles) before it needs to be replaced.  

 

Once the battery capacity runs low the 1 liter three cylinder gas engine fires up and the car will operate like a conventional hybrid.  BYD calls this serial/parallel system Dual Mode.

 

The F3DM is a four door compact sedan that looks a lot like the Toyota Corolla.  The car went on sale to government agencies in China in December 2008 but only about 80 vehicles were sold, and I have heard rumors that build quality was quite poor on these cars.  The car went on general sale to the public in China during April 2009.  The price of the car is 109, 800 Yuan (about $16,000).  It is expected to go on sale in Europe and the USA in 2011.

 

To purchase a BYD F3DM see your local DBD Dealer


If any owner out there would like to email evfinder  and tell me their experience I would love to pass on the information to prospective buyers.  I would also like to hear about any full sized EVs that are not listed here, or send any questions you might have about EVs.


Now for the fine print - remember always read the fine print.  

 

The information contained in this web site is based on information I have received about the availability of vehicles both new and used.  I attempt to keep the information here as current as possible but I would appreciate being notified of any inaccuracies you may find.  The appearance of a vehicle on this site does not imply any endorsement of that vehicle, or any implication that the vehicle will be suitable for your needs.  As always you should investigate the vehicle and the seller before shelling out your hard earned money.