To hybrid or plug-In hybrid?

Sections: Fuel Economy, Powertrain

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Ford's C-MAX Energi Plug-In Hybrid has no shortage of dealers wanting to sell it.

You can get it in Vanilla Hybrid, or Cookies and Cream Plug-In Hybrid known as Energi.  Just expect to pay more for the cookies.

For that is the question.  I pondered this myself when looking at my C-Max.  I really liked the tech of the Plug-In version, but it unfortunately boiled down to money and color choice (the dealer only had bad colors on the Energi plug-in).  Retrofitting my garage and wiring it for 240V and a J1772 charging station on the wall also would have run a few extra thousand.

Where can you check the data if it makes sense to take the plunge for plug-in?  To help you decide if a plug-in hybrid might be right for you, this website provides a plug-in hybrid calculator that estimates gasoline and electricity costs for any available plug-in hybrid using your driving habits, fuel costs, and charging schedule.

Remember the Plug-Ins typically have:

  • high-capacity batteries that allow them to operate on electricity from the outlet for significant distances—electricity typically costs less than half as much as gasoline
  • a larger electric motor than regular hybrids, which typically allows them to use electricity at higher speeds than regular hybrids; and
  • regenerative braking to recover energy typically wasted when you apply the brakes.

Plug-in hybrid designs differ, and your driving habits, especially the distance you drive between re-charging, can have a big effect on your fuel bill.  YMMV, but hybrid for me!

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