When it comes to plug-in hybrid range, is it always better? – .

When it comes to plug-in hybrid range, is it always better? – .

The Volvo XC60 Recharge plug-in hybrid.Jason Tchir/The Globe and Mail

We’re debating getting a plug-in hybrid SUV and we’re stressed and confused about how much range we’ll need. It is important to use it to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and we want to drive it as much as possible purely electric. How much scope do we really need for this? The one we’re looking at has a range of around 30 km. Is it sufficient or is it better? I think we need more, and my partner thinks we would be okay with it. We would eventually like a pure battery electric vehicle, but that makes sense for now as we want to make longer journeys. – Anita. Ottawa

There has been an increase in electrical options, so it’s easy to get a little, uh, bothered when figuring out how much battery power you’ll need.

But to determine your ideal range for a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), keep track of how much you’re driving now, experts say.

“If that was me, I would think of my typical daily commute – if your commute is 40 km round trip, you would want at least that much range,” said Cara Clairman, President and CEO of Plug n. ‘Drive, a non-profit that promotes electric vehicles. “You want it to cover what you drive around town – you wouldn’t want to tap into gasoline for your commute or local errands. “

Unlike conventional hybrids, which only let you run a block or two on pure electric power, PHEVs have a bigger battery that you plug in.

While most new battery-electric vehicles offer at least 300 km of electric range, PHEVs offer much less. But when a PHEV’s battery runs out, the gasoline engine kicks in.

Of the 38 PHEV models sold in Canada, the displayed electric range varies from 98 km in a 2021 Karma Revero to 24 km in a 2021 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-hybrid.

With regard to PHEV SUVs specifically, of the 15 listed on the Natural Resources Canada website, only four offer more than 40 km of range. Toyota’s RAV4 Prime has the best range among PHEV SUVs – 68 km.

The average Canadian travels 30 or 40 km per day.

“A lot of plug-in hybrid vehicles can do this,” said Jim Vanderwal, director of climate change programs at Fraser Basin Council. “It gives people the flexibility to take longer trips. “

The Volvo XC60 Recharge PHEV, which has an MSRP of $ 66,650 and an 11 kWh battery, is not eligible for any government incentives.Jason Tchir/The Globe and Mail

Range may vary

This indicated range may be higher or lower depending on how you drive.

Scorching, freezing weather, a heavy foot on the accelerator, and steep hills can undermine the range faster.

To test this, I drove a 2021 Volvo XC60 Recharge PHEV for a week in Vancouver, which included a 128 km round trip to Squamish on the Sea to Sky Highway.

The indicated range of the XC60 is 30 km, but I have driven around 35 km in the city. I didn’t accelerate quickly and drove it in B mode. This basically lets you downshift to maximize regenerative braking – which gives energy back to the battery – when slowing down or driving. ‘stop.

While driving in the city, the battery has never been zero. But he got closer – up to about 5 km. I needed to plug it in at night to recharge. From 5 km to 35 km took about 3 hours at a normal 120 volt outlet.

Most PHEVs, including the XC60, have settings that allow you to recharge the engine battery while you are driving. Many also allow you to set them to an engine-only mode that won’t drain the battery that much.

This is useful if you are on a long highway drive but want to leave the autonomy to use EV mode when you reach your destination.

Useless if it is not plugged in?

If you don’t plug in your PHEV regularly, you won’t get much electric range. You will emit CO2 – and it may be more than you think.

A 2020 study by Transport and Environment and Greenpeace found that in the real world, PHEVs emit up to two and a half times more emissions than automakers reported in official tests.

“You won’t get the manufacturer’s claim if you don’t charge it,” Vanderwal said. “You can still use it as a hybrid. “

If you’re looking to produce the least amount of emissions while driving, your best bet is still a pure BEV, Vanderwal said.

“But a PHEV could still make a significant reduction for someone if 80% of their driving is urban,” Vanderwal said. ” It’s a big problem. “

Another thing to consider when buying? PHEVs with larger batteries and an MSRP of up to $ 55,000 for up to six seats or $ 60,000 for seven or more may be eligible for the full federal rebate of $ 5,000.

In addition to that, the vehicles could also benefit from a rebate of up to $ 1,500 in British Columbia or up to $ 8,000 in Quebec.

That’s why it makes sense to compare vehicles, Clairman said.

For example, a Toyota RAV4 Prime PHEV, which has an MSRP of $ 44,990 and an 18 kWh battery, is eligible for full federal and provincial discounts.

But the Volvo XC60 Recharge PHEV, which has an MSRP of $ 66,650 and an 11 kWh battery, doesn’t qualify for any government incentives.

In addition, the Volvo uses premium gas, which will cost you more.

If you don’t regularly take trips across the country and can tune in at home, a BEV might make more sense to you than you think, Clairman said.

“I would recommend to go with [a BEV] because you’ll end up saving a lot of money on fuel and maintenance, ”Clairman said. “But PHEVs have a role for people who are really not ready – they’ll get either a PHEV or a regular gasoline car. “

A question about driving? Send it to [email protected] and put “Driving Concerns” in your subject line. Emails without the correct subject line may not be answered. Canada is a big country, so let us know where you are so we can find the answer for your city and province.


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