Can I own a plug-in hybrid if I live in an apartment?

The Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid concept car is displayed at the international motor show IAA in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
The Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid concept car is displayed at the international motor show IAA in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. See more pictures of plug-in hybrids.
Miguel Villagran/Getty Images

A plug-in hybrid seems like an ideal car for city dwellers -- you can go short distances on electric power alone. If you live and work in the same city, that means you could commute and run errands without using a drop of gas or releasing any polluting emissions from your tailpipe. But, most urban dwellers tend to live in apartments, and plug-in hybrids, well, need to be plugged in to charge. Unless your building doesn't mind you driving up to your apartment every night to plug in, living in an apartment can be a significant roadblock to owning a plug-in hybrid.

While you can charge a plug-in hybrid from any 120-volt outlet, most manufacturers recommend that you don't use extension cords. So, unless you can park your plug-in hybrid next to an outlet, it looks like you're out of luck.


But, lots of cities are getting behind charging stations that can charge plug-in hybrids faster than standard 120-volt outlets. In some cases, level three charging stations can fully recharge a plug-in hybrid in as little as 30 minutes. Some retailers, like Starbucks and Best Buy, have started putting charging stations at some locations, and some cities have begun installing them as well -- currently, there are 45 charging stations in San Francisco alone. The U.S. Department of Energy also has a charging station locator, and some employers are putting charging stations in their parking garages. While people in houses can charge their plug-in hybrids overnight, apartment dwellers may just have to do it during the day. And, even if your plug-in hybrid runs out of juice before you make it to a charging station, you're still okay: The plug-in hybrid's gasoline engine will kick on and you can still get where you need to go.

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