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Right Electric Range For A Plug-In Hybrid: Is Lower Better?

How much electric range is the “right” amount in a plug-in hybrid or range-extended electric car?

If you’re a fan of battery electric vehicles, the answer is “all of it.”

But if you want to drive most of your miles on electricity, and still have the security of a combustion engine as a backup for long-distance travel, the answer may vary.

Our reader Jim Bradbury explained last year why he chose a Prius Plug-In over a Chevy Volt–because of the length of his commute and the car’s larger interior space.

Other buyers will rank their priorities differently, but this year, they can choose among the following electric ranges (as rated by the EPA):

11 miles: Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid (only 6 miles are continuous–the engine switches on during the EPA test cycle even before the battery depletes)
13 miles: 2014 Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid
21 miles: 2013 Ford C-Max Energi and 2013 Ford Fusion Energi
38 miles: 2013 Chevrolet Volt

Now, a study suggests that while buyers of plug-in hybrids are more affluent than the average car buyer, they focus on payback as a major part of the selection process.


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