Plug-In Hybrid Info

What is a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV for short)?

Plug-in hybrids are gaining in popularity, particularly among the wealthy who are more concerned about reducing their carbon footprint than they are about saving money. By definition, a plug-in hybrid is a hybrid vehicle that has been reconfigured to carry a larger battery pack than what it came with from the factory. Plug-in hybrids can be recharged with household electricity and using that charge, can operate somewhere between twelve and twenty five miles solely on electrical power supplied by the battery pack.

Should I convert my hybrid to a Plug-in?

If your first concern is saving money, with fuel prices below six dollars a gallon, the answer is a definite 'NO.' However, if your concern is to reduce the amount of fossil fuel you consume for some other reason, the answer may be 'Yes.'

Can I convert my Honda Hybrid to a Plug-in?

No, not now and probably never. The Honda IMA, while a fine and reliable system, does not allow for electric-only operation. At present plug-in hybrid conversions are being performed primarily on 2004-2009 Toyota Prius vehicles.

How much does a Plug-in hybrid conversion cost?

Two things have happened to greatly alter the hybrid conversion market. One is the fact that the most popular and well-known hybrid conversion was done by A123 Hymotion. The California Air Resources Board made the (rather bizarre) conclusion that the conversion increased vehicle emissions and revoked their permit to sell the conversions in California. The second thing that happened is that Toyota and Honda both began selling their own Plug-In hybrids, along of course with Chevrolet and the VOLT and the Ford Fusion and Ford C-Max plug-in hybrids. The availability of these factory produced plug-ins has pretty well eliminated the demand for aftermarket plug-in conversions.

Does Phil's Auto Clinic do plug-in conversions?

We are actually an approved installer for a plug-in conversion company called Enginer. However, we have never actually done a conversion for them and my own belief is that it makes more sense to buy a factory-installed and engineered plug-in now that they are readily available. I bought one myself, mostly in the desire to learn about its operation and costs. Here is what I have found out after 2,500 miles of operation on full-electric and 19,000 miles on regular hybrid operation:

In the winter time, when I do not run my house air-conditioner, I can 'fill-up' my car with electricity that costs 17 cents a kilowatt hour. At that price, compared to $4 a gallon gasoline, I can run my car at about half the cost on electricity. During the summer, when basic household demands including air conditioning use up the available lower-priced KWh, I have to fill up the car at the higher-priced, 31 cent a KWh electricity. At that price, it costs about the same to run the car on gasoline.

Should I buy a plug-in hybrid?

I like my plug-in Prius very much. I like driving the car on electricity since it is almost silent, and would be silent if it wasn't for the noise-maker mandated by congress to help blind people hear the car. However, if your motive is just money, I'd say the answer is NO. Toyota claims the battery will last the life of the car. I do not believe them, really, but perhaps someday I will be able to tell you. At present, the plug-in hybrid is about $7,000 more than the standard, non-plug in. You cannot save enough running on electricity to pay that back. Other considerations though (like if you already have solar panels on your house and have extra power) may influence your decision.