Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) is a hybrid vehicle with batteries that can be recharged by connecting a plug to an external electric power source. It shares the characteristics of both traditional hybrid electric vehicles (also called charge-maintaining hybrid electric vehicles), having an electric motor and an internal combustion engine; and of battery electric vehicles, also having a plug to connect to the electrical grid (it is a plug-in vehicle). Most PHEVs on the road today are passenger cars, but there are also PHEV versions of commercial vehicles and vans, utility trucks, buses, trains, motorcycles, scooters, and military vehicles. They are sometimes called grid-connected hybrids, gas-optional hybrids, or GO-HEVs.

The cost for electricity to power plug-in hybrids for all-electric operation has been estimated at less than one quarter of the cost of gasoline. Compared to conventional vehicles, PHEVs can reduce air pollution, dependence on petroleum and fossil fuels, and greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.[ Plug-in hybrids use no fossil fuel during their all-electric range if their batteries are charged from nuclear or renewable electricity. Other benefits include improved national energy security, fewer fill-ups at the filling station, the convenience of home recharging, opportunities to provide emergency backup power in the home, and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) applications.

Chinese battery manufacturer and automaker BYD Auto released the F3DM PHEV-68 (PHEV109km) hatchback to the Chinese fleet market on December 15, 2008, for 149,800 yuan (US $22,000.) Toyota, General Motors, Ford, California startups Fisker Automotive and Aptera Motors, ] Volkswagen,and Volvo have scheduled the introduction of production PHEV automobiles. The PHEV-6 (PHEV-9.7 km) Toyota Prius will be offered beginning with commercial fleets in 2009. The luxury Fisker Karma PHEV-50 (PHEV-80 km) sports car is slated for late 2009, and GM's PHEV-40 (PHEV-64 km) Chevrolet Volt and Saturn Vue and the Volkswagen Golf PHEV-50 km plug-ins are expected in 2010. Ford's PHEV-30 Escape SUV is already being used in utility fleets, and due out to the general public in 2012.

As of 2009, most PHEVs on the road in the US are conversions of 2004 or later Toyota Prius and Ford Escape models, which have had plug-in charging and more batteries added and their electric-only range extended.Several countries, including the United States and several European countries, have enacted laws to facilitate the introduction of PHEVs through tax credits, emissions mandates, and by financing research and development of advanced batteries and other related technologies. Introduction of PHEVs also benefits from laws and regulations enacted for hybrid vehicles.