A plug-in hybrid car is a vehicle that uses a combination of batteries and a gasoline-powered combustion engine to power a motor. After a full charge, plug-in hybrids can run up to 42 miles using only electric before switching to a traditional hybrid engine. As many daily car trips are within that mileage, plug-in hybrids can run almost exclusively on electricity. More and more plugin hybrid options are coming to market which is driving down costs, along with federal incentives and cheaper “fuel” costs. In addition to reducing carbon footprint, your Croton neighbors are upgrading to plug-in hybrids that are increasingly cost competitive with gasoline cars.
What inspired you to make this upgrade?
A few things came together to get me into the driver’s seat of a plug-in hybrid vehicle. On a personal level, I knew I wanted to reduce my carbon emissions by switching to a “greener” vehicle. The fact that my car lease was ending (on a gas guzzling SUV) dictated the timing. Finally, my involvement in the launch of Croton100 last year put me in touch with neighbors who generously shared their experiences with various electric vehicles (EVs).
What is a plug-in hybrid car?
To be honest, I didn’t know about plug in hybrid vehicles until I started talking to my Croton100 friends about getting an EV. I was familiar with hybrid cars, as I previously owned two Honda Civic hybrids. Hybrids get really good gas mileage, but they are not electric. A plug-in hybrid car has both a rechargeable battery that allows you to drive in fully
electric mode for 20 – 30 miles, and an efficient gas hybrid engine. When the battery power runs out, the car automatically switches over to the gas engine. So, you never run out of power.
What is the most common question you get about your car from friends and family?
Most people want to know two things: how much does the car cost and how do you charge the battery.
How did you go about searching for a plug-in hybrid car? Which did you ultimately choose?
Thanks to advice I collected from like-minded neighbors I met through Croton100, we quickly narrowed our search to either a Tesla EV or a Toyota plug-in hybrid. Ultimately, we purchased the Toyota Prius Prime.
What was the sales process like? Did you take a test drive? How did it compare to a gasoline car?
Our sales process was unique, as we purchased the car during the height of the pandemic. We did not test drive at the dealership but we had test driven a friend’s plug-in hybrid earlier in the year. About driving the car: there is a big difference between driving in EV mode and driving in the hybrid gas mode. In EV, the car is zippy, quiet and really fun to drive. When it switches to the hybrid gas engine, it is much less powerful and the engine is noisier by comparison.
Did you need to install any specific charging equipment at home?
The Toyota Prius Prime comes with a charging cable that plugs into any household outlet. Because we wanted the option of charging our vehicle in the driveway, we hired an electrician to add an exterior outlet.
How has the car worked for you?
As we purchased our plug-in hybrid car as our “around town” car, it has exceeded our expectations. It is perfect for daily errands and local trips. But, I wish the EV mode had a longer range ... 50 miles would be better to meet our daily needs. Also, I am glad we have a second car for longer drives.
What did the car cost, what incentives were available, and did it deliver any cost savings?
The 2020 Toyota Prius Prime Limited (the most expensive model) cost us $34,000. There were several attractive rebates and tax credits that reduced the cost: a $2,000 rebate from NYS’s Drive Clean program and a Federal tax credit of $4,502. But the savings did not stop there! As we drive most of our local miles on battery power, we have only filled up at the gas station 3 times in 9 months. I estimate we will save about $900 on gas per year. We are paying for more electricity to charge the battery. But, again, there are incentives to offset the cost. Con Edison has a “Smart Charge” program that gives a reduced rate and monthly rebate when you charge your vehicle at night. You get an initial $25 for signing up for Smart Charge and another $5 per month for off-peak charging.
Yes! Choosing an EV or Plug-in Hybrid Car is a positive step you can take to reduce your carbon emissions and improve the health of the planet. Many makes and models of EVs are available now, and more on the horizon. Make sure you check for newer models, hopefully with better EV ranges, when you are ready to make the change.
For more information on Susan Sammon’s experience, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more about this upgrade in our blog: When is the Best Time to Buy an Electric Vehicle?