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Can a Plug-in Hybrid Save Money? Ask “My Plug-in Hybrid Calculator.”

Sections: Fuel Economy, Powertrain

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We have been documenting the large sway from fuel economy the manufacturer touts on the window sticker to what the average driver attains.  The numbers are all over the bell curve- well, mostly on the butt portion of the bell curve.  My enthusiast friend just purchased a new VW Jetta Hybrid.  The first few tanks were 36 MPG, and now he swears the last one dramatically dropped to 26 MPG.  He says his driving habits remain the same.  And the economy should be getting better as the weather turns warmer and those battery cells can hold more juice.

But, I digress.  To really throw a wrench into the mix, how do you calculate for a Plug-In Hybrid.  The answer is http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=phev1Prompt.  Read below for all the details…but, in short, it calculates the gas you would use from Gulf compared to the juice you use out of your outlet.  It mixes the octane and kilowatt hours to come up with how much money you’ll save (or spend) on your plug-in hybrid go juice.

One thing is for sure- our man Lyndon is going to love this when he reviews a plug-in hybrid!  Get ready mileage nerds…

Fueleconomy.gov has developed a new tool to help consumers who are thinking about purchasing a plug-in hybrid vehicle. The new tool, called “My Plug-in Hybrid Calculator” (http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=phev1Prompt) can help estimate personalized fuel use and costs for a plug-in based on a consumer’s driving habits, gasoline and electricity prices, and charging schedule. 

Most consumers are aware that their “mileage may vary” from the EPA fuel economy rating when purchasing a new vehicle. This applies to fuel costs, too. However, fuel costs for a plug-in hybrid can vary dramatically depending on how far the vehicle is driven between charges. Fuel costs for a plug-in hybrid are difficult to project since they cost much less to operate when they run on electricity rather than gasoline—less than half as much in many situations. So, the more electricity you use instead of gasoline, the more money you save. However, the amount of electricity you can use depends on the length of your daily commute, how often you can charge your vehicle, and other factors that vary significantly from person to person.

 My Plug-in Hybrid Calculator estimates the fuel cost, fuel used, and mileage for both electricity- and gasoline-powered driving and allows the user to view estimates for a week, a month, or a year. It even estimates the number of times they’ll have to visit a filling station for gasoline (see Figures 1 and 2 below).

 The calculator is easy to use, and users can choose from two estimation models: one with a simple form that requires minimal driving information and another that allows them to enter more information about their driving habits. Both allow the user to customize fuel cost and charging information. The simple form only requires the number of miles driven on a typical day and the number of miles driven each year. The other form allows the user to provide information about weekday driving, weekend driving, and long trips taken throughout the year.

 My Plug-in Hybrid Calculator makes it easy to see how personal driving characteristics can affect fuel cost savings (and number of trips to the gas station). For example, consider a driver living in New York, driving a 2013 Ford Fusion Energi Plug-in 20 miles per day and 7,300 miles per year, and having a 220-volt charger at home (but no charger at the office). Their estimated annual fuel cost would be $444 ($67 for gasoline and $377 for electricity), and they would likely fill up the gas tank once that year (see Figure 1 below).

 However, if they drove twice as far (40 miles per day and 14,600 miles per year), the estimated annual fuel cost would increase by a factor of 2.5 to $1,094 ($663 for gasoline and $431 for electricity) because they would rely more on gasoline. Similarly, they would have to visit a gas station about 13 times that year (see Figure 2 below).

My Plug-in Hybrid Calculator (http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=phev1Prompt) is part of fueleconomy.gov’s commitment to provide the most current and accurate fuel economy information on all light-duty vehicles available for sale in the United States since 1985, including plug-in hybrids. Look to fueleconomy.gov for more new information on plug-in hybrids in the near future, including fuel-saving driving tips and a cool animation showing how plug-in hybrids work.

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