When Honda introduced the modern hybrid automobile back in 19, it was little more than a novelty. The two-seat Honda Insight was, for all practical purposes more proof of concept than it was a practical automobile. Fine for commuting, but with limited passenger space and limited cargo space, the car was a gas mileage champion, but little else.
The following Year, Toyota unleashed the juggernaut that eventually came to be associated with hybrid cars the way Kleenex is associated with facial tissue and the way the iPhone is associated with smartphones. You say hybrid, and for a very long time everybody only thought Prius. This is still true to an extent, but the market has broadened considerably. These days, nearly every major manufacturer offers at least one hybrid model.
The next frontier in that regard is the plug-in hybrid. All the benefits of the gasoline/electric powertrain with even more electric range. This is made possible by fitting a larger battery pack to the cars, which is capable of being recharged from an electrical outlet. Before the advent of the plug-in hybrid the only way the battery packs in hybrid models could be recharged is by either coasting or braking, as the internal combustion engine generated the majority of the electricity for the battery, while a nominal amount of voltage was captured from the friction generated during the braking process.
Plug-in hybrids capture the versatile recharging capabilities of pure electric vehicles, while adding the security of internal combustion engines to ensure range of travel. In other words, you get most of what’s best about electric cars, along with the extended range of a gasoline-fired powerplant. In many ways, plug-in hybrids are the best of both worlds—with one exception. Because they have to carry an internal combustion engine too, they are typically heavier than pure electric models; consequently their electric-only range typically is significantly less than the best pure electric models.
Still, they return superior fuel economy—often besting their hybrid siblings. And, again, for many people, there is currently no underestimating the value of the value of the range-extending internal combustion engine.