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Plug In Hybrids :)

The Prius 3.5 Plug in Hybrid :)  $32,000
Plug in hybrids combine the best of electric vehicles, pure electric driving, with the benefits of a normal hybrid, tremendous gas powered range and great fuel economy. Some plug-in hybrids are already available to consumers, others are going to launch within the next couple of years. Lets take a peak at what is out there, how much they cost, and which plug in hybrids are going to be available shortly.

Pure electric cars are currently limited by long recharge time and limited range. The Nissan leaf is really the only practical electric car currently available to consumers all over the world. It can go between 46 and 114 miles per charge depending on the driver and conditions in which it is operated. Charging a Nissan Leaf takes 7 hours using a Level 2 car charger. Special high output Level 3 chargers can plug into the CHAdeMO port on SL trim Leaf's, and charge the battery with an %80 charge in 30 minutes: in either case the range and charging time is fine for most commuters: but these statistic and their real world impacts leave so much innovation to be desired. Fortunately, there is a lot of great innovation to come in upcoming electric vehicles like the Tesla Model S. One way or the other, plug in hybrids offer consumers a range of benefits over regular hybrids.

Regular hybrid vehicles are great, easily achieving 40MPG+ mpgs real world mixed driving, but their small batteries can not absorb all of your down hill regen capacity, and even a slightly larger battery would greatly improve the overal efficiency of these vehicles. Enter the Plug in Hybrid.

Plug in hybrids have a larger battery storage system. They can be plugged into the grid and charged completely within a couple of hours using a Level 2 charger. This gives the plug-in hybrid a limited by functional all electric range of 10-40 miles depending on which plug in hybrid we are talking about. When the main battery in the plug in hybrid is low, the vehicle reverts to normal hybrid mode, mixing brake regen, the battery power and gas motor to move the vehicle. 

The Chevy Volt : Range Extended Electric Hybrid $40,000
GM's coolest vehicle ever! The Chevy Volt is not officially called a Plug In Hybrid, GM likes to refer to it as a range extended electric vehicle: and for most intents and purposes, that description is fair. Technically the Volt is a Plug in Hybrid because the gas generator engine can connect (and does) to the final drive when the Volt driver floors the gas pedal for maximum power (passing on the highway, or racing). The Volt has an all electric operating range of about 35 miles (the 2013 model year gets 38mi EV), after which the Volt goes into range extending mode where it returns a reasonable 35MPG ( on premium fuel$ :| ) .... If the buyer of the Volt has a tax liability of more than $8,000, they are able to take advantage of the $7500 EV tax credit :), greatly reducing the final price to the consumer :) It launched in 2010, and each new model year will enjoy incremental improvements :) 

The 2012 Fisker Karma $103,000 
$103,000This subcompact luxury sports sedan is the produce of Fiskar Automotive. It offers 32 miles of all electric driving, followed by extended hybrid mode operation returning a dismal 20MPG's. It was designed my legendary automotive designer Henrik Fisker. Despite its large overall footprint and dimensions, the interior space gives the operator about as much usable interior as a subcompact sedan. The Karma has also unfortunately been a mixed bag mechanically, suffering a number of costly recalls: nothing too serious though, there are many perfectly happy Karma owners out there. Buys of this vehicle may also be able to take advantage of the $7500 EV tax credit. The Karma became available to consumers in 2011.
The 2013 Ford Fusion Energi Plug In Hybrid $? 
The Ford Fusion plug in hybrid is set to launch in Q3 2012, for a yet unknown price. With 20 miles of all electric range, it reverts to 47MPG hybrid mode for extended range. We will know more about this car when it launches later this year :) I would like to personally thank Ford's leadership for moving forward with drive-train choices for consumers. I completely agree with their sales model of allowing the consumer to choose between normal gas, turbo (eco-boost) gas, hybrid, plug in hybrid and full electric drivetrains in a given vehicle. That gives consumers a real choice that has long been absent in the free market! Thank you Ford! 

The 2014 BMW I8 Luxury Sport Plug in Hybrid Coupe $?
Part of the BMW efficient dynamics program, this amazingly cool concept car is currently in pre-production development, set to launch in late 2013 :) I will quote wiki for the rest of the stats: enjoy!

"The BMW i8 plug in hybrid unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show has a 7.2 kWh battery that allows an all electric range of 22 mi. Its top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h (160 mph) and is expected to go from 0 to 0 to 60 MPH in 4.6 seconds. Under normal driving conditions the i8 is expected to deliver 80 mpg-US ^^ A full charge of the battery will take less than 2 hours using 220V."

"The i8 combines two electric motors and a 3 cylinder diesel engine, that results in a combined output of 349 hp ^^. ! All four wheels provide regenerative braking. The location of the battery pack in the energy tunnel gives the vehicle a low centre of gravity, enhancing its dynamics. Together with the positioning of the motor and engine over the axles, the result is an optimum 50/50 weight distribution." 

PHEV's are Cool! 

I am very excited about these vehicles. They represent the first major step forward from the pure hybrid vehicle innovations that launched more than 10 years ago. My second generation Prius (Astro) has given me almost 90,000 miles of completely mechanically ideal (nothing other than oil and filter changes) fuel conserving miles :) My lifetime fuel economy in astro is 45.9MPG's, but that average is going to slowly clime as I now regularly hypermile and will be swapping out my less efficient tires with LRR models soon, along with removing my aero turbulence mud flaps: I also reinstalled the ugly wheel aero buffering rings today.... I took them off after owning astro for 2 days back in 2005, and never thought of putting them back on until I recently read how they very slightly improve highway fuel economy by reducing wheel turbulence...... the mud flaps were a far worse aerodynamic offender however, and they are about to come off too. The ~70lb muffler delete probably also helped out some as well ~

For more information, please visit wikipedia's article on Plug In Hybrids, the source where I got almost all of the information in this posting :)

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