Hybrids Defined Part Two: PHEVs and REEVs

In the last article of this series, we discussed the differences between mild and full hybrids. While the two vehicles are quite different from one another, they share one similarity: they’re both closer in form and function to internal combustion-driven vehicles than they are to full electrics. Now, let’s explore two hybrid options that bear more resemblance to the more earth-friendly electrics, while still relying on gasoline to some degree:

Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs)

Plug-in hybrids are exactly what they sound like: hybrids with a larger battery than the average full hybrid, which can be charged through the usual means of regenerative braking, as well as by plugging in to a power source. At city speeds (up to around 40 miles per hour), most PHEVs can run entirely on the electric motor, with the internal combustion engine only kicking in if its needed for quick acceleration.

When a PHEV’s electric range runs out, the gasoline engine can take over, thereby eliminating the possibility of running out of fuel with no electric charging stations nearby and being stranded. Despite this added gasoline protection, a hybrid-savvy driver with a short to moderate city commute could do the majority of their driving in electric-only mode — a big draw for those who want to save their pennies and the planet.

Range-extended electric vehicles (REEVs)

A range-extended electric vehicle, also called a series hybrid, serves a similar purpose to a plug-in hybrid, with an internal combustion engine to help increase the vehicle’s range. The difference is, with a range-extended electric, the vehicle never actually drives in “internal combustion mode.”

Instead, when battery runs low on the power it stored while plugged in, a small internal combustion engine inside of it begins powering a generator, which in turn charges the battery. The gasoline engine is never actually responsible for turning the vehicle’s wheels, making this type of hybrid closer to a battery-powered electric than an internal combustion-powered vehicle.


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