Hybrid cars have long been considered the most efficient alternative to driving a petrol or diesel powered car, without running the risk as you do in a fully electric vehicle of running out of charge.
Now, however, there are more plug-in hybrids on the market and these are believed to be even better in terms of fuel efficiency as they can provide all-electric power to the car.
As well as working in the same way as hybrid cars, plug-in hybrids can also be connected to external electricity supplies and power the car via the electric motor only. In some versions, the driver can choose to switch manually between different driving modes. For example, you can choose to use the gasoline engine for highway driving as this is the most efficient time to use the gas engine, then switch to electric mode when queuing in traffic in town.
The Toyota plug-in Prius was launched in the autumn of 2011 and deliveries will take place in the States during the first half of this year. The Prius plug-in should achieve 112 mpg (US) according to Toyota, with CO2 emissions at 49g/km.
Honda showcased its first plug-in hybrid at Detroit in January, and the Accord 2013 plug-in hybrid will be available from the latter end of 2012.
Honda’s plug-in hybrid will be capable of ten to fifteen miles in electric mode. It will also have the standard gasoline-electric hybrid mode and direct drive, which is when only the fuel engine provides the power.
One car that stands alone as neither an electric vehicle nor a hybrid is the Chevvy Volt. Some reviewers see it as a plug-in hybrid as it has an electric motor and a gasoline engine. However the gasoline engine doesn’t provide power per se; instead it acts as a gasoline generator to produce more electricity to power the electric motor when required.
Regardless of its category, the Chevvy Volt and the plug-in hybrid cars are the most efficient vehicles on the market today.