Not Quite Ready for an All-Electric Car? What About a Gas-Electric PHEV?

After 17 years and 200,000 miles in the same SUV, Central Lincoln customer Wayne B. went shopping. He knew he wanted an affordable electric car, but needed one large enough to carry his wife’s wheelchair and walker without lowering the back seat. After researching and test-driving the Chevy Volt and the Toyota Prius Prime, he picked the Honda Clarity, and it’s been an excellent fit.

man standing with hands on top of Honda sedan
Wayne B. with his PHEV — plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

The Volt, Prime, and Clarity are all PHEVs—plug-in hybrid electric vehicles with batteries, an electric motor, a gasoline tank, AND an internal combustion engine. Some PHEVs operate primarily on electricity until the battery is nearly empty, then burn gas in the engine. Other PHEVs—sometimes called “blended mode” PHEVs—use both gasoline and electricity to power the vehicle while the battery is charged on the go.

The average American drives about 40 miles a day, meaning most PHEV drivers rarely need to buy gas. Wayne gets about 48 miles on his car’s battery power—and at about three miles to the kilowatt hour, a full charge at home costs him about $1.30. For road trips to the Willamette Valley or beyond, Wayne’s gas tank holds “only” about 7 gallons of gas, but when using blended mode, he can get about 97 miles to the gallon for a range of more than 650 miles on a tank of gas—and the electricity used to charge his PHEV’s batteries. “It is like a game to me driving in EV mode as long and as often as I can,” Wayne writes.