Electric Car Buying Guide: How to Buy the Right EV

What Is a Plug-in Hybrid?

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Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) cars also use both electricity and gasoline for power. But they have a larger battery and a more powerful electric motor. They can travel under electric power up to their full speed. A PHEV uses electricity alone until its battery is nearly depleted and then turns on its gasoline engine and begins to function as a hybrid. In practical terms, owning a PHEV is a lot like owning an EV. But PHEVs are capable of indefinitely long trips, as long as they get fueled with gasoline.

For instance, the 2023 Chrysler Pacifica PHEV can travel up to 32 miles on electric power alone. The average American drives less than 30 miles a day. So many Pacifica PHEV owners effectively operate an EV on an average day. But they can take longer road trips without worrying about their car’s EV range and use gasoline for greater distances. In some cases, PHEVs also qualify for tax incentives meant to help Americans buy electric cars, making their cost lower than traditional hybrids. This guide will not cover PHEVs.

Fully Electric Cars Use No Gas

Electric vehicles do not have gasoline engines. They operate with large batteries, usually placed underneath the car’s floor, that store all their power. They use small electric motors attached directly to their axles that do the job of an engine.

EVs travel with limited range because their batteries can run out, and recharging their batteries takes longer than refilling a gas tank. But even the shortest-range EV on the market today drives a range many times longer than the distance most people do each day. As technology improves, charging batteries keeps getting faster.