With the UK government set to introduce major new 'Green' initiatives, and increasing concern over petroleum prices as well as pollution issues, the plug in hybrid car is fast becoming the star of new generation vehicles.
The following guide will explain what plug in hybrid technology is all about as well as describe its current pros and cons.
Introducing the Plug In Hybrid Car
Hybrid vehicles were first produced as early as 1899. Early hybrids could be charged from an external energy source before operation, but the term 'plug-in hybrid' has come to mean a hybrid vehicle that can be charged from a standard electrical wall socket.
A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, termed PHEV or PHV for short, has rechargeable batteries that can be restored to full charge by connecting a plug to an external electric power source, just as with other electronics we so frequently use.
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 officially defines a plug-in electric drive vehicle as a vehicle that can be recharged from an external source of electricity for motive power and draws this motive power from a battery with a capacity of at least 4 kilowatt hours.
A PHEV shares the same characteristic as conventional hybrid electric vehicle in that it has an electric motor and an internal combustion engine. It is superior to hybrid cars however in range of distance before a refill is needed because its combustion engine works as a backup when the batteries are depleted - this gives it the same range reliability as a traditional petrol operated car.
Manufacturers are increasingly turning their attentions to this eco-friendly form of transport - we are seeing more and more PHEV passenger cars, and in the future we can also expect to see them in the form of commercial vans, trucks, buses, motorcycles and scooters on the roads.
Main Benefits of PHEV Vehicles
The cost of electricity to power plug-in hybrids for all-electric operation is estimated at less than one quarter the cost of petrol. Total fuel economy of a PHEV depends on the amount of driving between recharges. The beauty of this technology is that PHEVs have the potential to be even more efficient than conventional hybrids because the reduced use of the PHEV's internal combustion engine allows the engine to be used at or near its maximum efficiency.
Compared to conventional vehicles, PHEVs reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Plug in hybrid cars also remove our dependence on petroleum, which has become a major political and pollution issue in our times.
Power Source Convenience
In time, we are likely to have the convenience of home recharging, which means less trips to fuelling outlets. This would also mean your car effectively becomes an emergency backup power for the home if there's an electricity cut.
Disadvantages of Plug In Hybrid Cars
Currently, the initial cost of a lithium battery for a PHEV is fairly pricey. Experts predict however that by 2020 the cost will have dropped by 35%.
Fuel Source for Electricity
If PHEV's become massively popular, it will significantly reduce carbon emissions in urban areas, however the more rural places that produce the fuel that produces electricity, especially when generated by coal, will experience increased pressure for production and thus a raised carbon emission level. Thus, for this technology to provide the best advantages for all, electricity production also needs to be streamlined and made more efficient.
Tiered Electrical Charges
If electricity companies charge on a tiered scale, you could end up with a fairly hefty bill for charging your plug in hybrid - the way to avoid this is to try to always charge it during off-peak times.
Currently, there are not enough recharge points for PHEV's to match major consumer demand. This is due to change in the UK however - see the following information of the Governments new scheme.
Government Electric Car Grant Schemes
This year the UK government has launched a major new scheme which will see consumers given a 5,000 grant to buy and electric car, along with plans to build alot more charge points throughout the country.
While there has been some debate over the roll out of grant money, 2011 is set to be a 'breakthrough' year for electric cars, with most major car manufacturers racing to introduce new models.
The government proposals are part of a 250m strategy which aims to revolutionise Britain's road transport network based on ultra-low carbon vehicles. Currently, as a first phase, it is putting 20m towards regional partnerships to install 4,000 points by 2015.
Around the rest of the world, other governments are increasingly introducing similar schemes to slash their carbon emissions.
While the plug in hybrid car is still very new to public roads, we are sure to see an increasing amount of new models being released and charge points built. Quite simply, PHEV's are a major way forward if we want to achieve lowered carbon emissions for future generations.