How Often do you Need to Charge Plug-in Hybrids?
How often you'll need to charge your plug-in hybrid depends on how far you intend to drive it each day. For regular commuting purposes, you'll probably need to recharge daily. The Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid is designed to travel about 40 miles (64.4 kilometers) per charge, so if your round-trip commute, including shopping and any errands you need to run, is less than 40 miles (64.4 kilometers), you'll need to charge every evening. It's best to do this overnight, because that will give you both the necessary time to recharge and will use the electric grid during off-peak hours, when kilowatts are cheap and you won't be straining the local power company's electric capacity. Also bear in mind that the Volt can run 300 miles (482.8 kilometers) per charge by using the built-in internal combustion engine to recharge the depleted battery on the fly, so in an emergency you can go a lot longer between charges. However, this defeats the purpose of having a plug-in hybrid in the first place. If you regularly need to travel such distances, a plug-in hybrid probably isn't for you.
The plug-in version of the Toyota Prius is projected to have a range of 12 miles (19.3 kilometers) per charge. Although this could change by the time the vehicle is available for sale, you'll probably mostly use it as a standard hybrid with an all-electric option. The Hymotion Plug-in conversion module for the current Prius might work better for the average commute; its advertised range of 40 miles (64.4 kilometers) per charge is comparable to the Chevy Volt.
At present plug-in hybrid vehicles aren't ideal for long trips. If you can't plug in frequently, you'll be using the internal combustion engine most of the time. Yet for a plug-in hybrid like the Chevy Volt, this is still more cost effective than an ordinary internal combustion engine alone, as we'll see later in this article. Next, however, we'll look at how long it will take to recharge a plug-in hybrid.