Can I drive a plug-in-hybrid without the gas engine kicking in?

Hybrid vs electric cars: key takeaways

Hybrid cars have features of both conventional cars and newer electric vehicles, with many of the advantages— and disadvantages— of both. But, being “the best of both worlds” doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best for you. 

Disadvantages of hybrid cars

Less power: Hybrids combine both an electric motor and a gasoline engine, with their gasoline engine primarily operated as the power source. Therefore, neither the gasoline engine nor the electric motor works as strongly as they do in conventional gasoline or electric cars. But Hybrids work just fine for “normal” drivers who usually drive around the city.

Pricey to buy: The initial cost of hybrids is more expensive than conventional vehicles’ in most cases.

Higher running costs: Due to their engine and continuous development in technology, it may not be easy to find a mechanic with the required expertise. And they would likely charge you a little more for maintenance and repairs. Moreover, the highest running cost occurs when replacing the battery.

Poor handling: Hybrids have more machinery than conventional cars, which adds extra weight and reduces fuel efficiency. So, hybrid car manufacturers have had to make smaller engines and batteries to cut down on weight. But this results in reduced power for the vehicle and support in the body and suspension.

Electrocution risk: The batteries in hybrids contain a high voltage, which can increase the risk of the passengers and rescuers being electrocuted in the event of an accident.

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When A Prius Runs Out Of Gas

The Toyota Prius, one of the most common hybrid vehicles, is built differently. You will probably be able to keep your Prius on the road after its gas tank runs dry—but don’t count on being able to go very fast or far. Although Prius owners have reportedly driven several miles with no gas in the tank, the engine won’t be able to reach speeds higher than 18 mph. The Ford Fusion also works in a similar fashion. If you need to call a tow truck for your Prius, be sure that it’s only towed with its front wheels off the ground. Flat-towing a Prius will engage the front wheels’ generators, feeding electricity back into the engine and potentially causing it to overheat. Once you reach a gas station and fill up the tank again, you might encounter another big problem. If the ignition battery is drained and no longer supplying charge to the engine, adding fuel won’t do anything. You might need to get your hybrid car serviced to recharge your battery with a specialized machine. Some Prius owners have even reported that running the car without gas is treated as a warranty-risking event by Toyota service centers. As with most car issues, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The better care you take of your hybrid battery, the more miles you will get out of it before it needs to be replaced or repaired. Of course, all batteries will eventually run out. When yours reaches the end of its life, bring it to AutoAid for our hybrid battery replacement service.

Benefits and Challenges

Less Petroleum Use. Plug-in hybrids use roughly 30

Less Petroleum Use. Plug-in hybrids use roughly 30% to 60% less petroleum than conventional vehicles. Since electricity is produced mostly from domestic resources, plug-in hybrids reduce oil dependence.

Less Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Plug-in hybrids typically emit less greenhouse gas than conventional vehicles. However, the amount generated depends partly on how the electricity is produced. For example, nuclear and hydroelectric plants are cleaner than coal-fired power plants.

Higher Vehicle Costs, Lower Fuel Costs. A plug-in hybrid can cost roughly $4 to $8 thousand more than a comparable non-plug-in hybrid. Using electricity is usually cheaper than using gasoline, sometimes much cheaper. However, fuel savings may or may not offset the higher vehicle cost. It depends on the vehicle, the share of miles operating on electricity, fuel costs, and ownership length. Federal tax incentives up to $7,500 are currently available for qualifying plug-ins.

Re-charging Takes Time. Re-charging using a 120-volt household outlet can take several hours. Re-charging using a 240-volt home or public charger can take about 1 to 4 hours. A "fast charge" to 80% capacity may take as little as 30 minutes. However, these vehicles don’t have to be plugged in. They can be fueled solely with gasoline but will not achieve maximum range or fuel economy without charging.

Estimating Fuel Economy. Since a plug-in can operate on electricity alone, gasoline alone, or a mixture of the two, EPA provides a fuel economy estimate for gasoline-only operation and an estimate for electric-only or gas-and-electric operation—both for combined city-highway driving.

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