# Plug-in Hybrid Economy Calculator

Created by Bogna Szyk
Reviewed by Steven Wooding
Last updated: Jan 16, 2024

So what's the plug-in hybrid economy calculator all about? Most electric and hybrid cars allow you to save considerable sums on fuel but require a significant initial investment. It isn't easy to decide at first glance whether a hybrid is more cost-efficient. We created this handy calculator to give you a comprehensive overview of the economy of plug-in hybrids. You will be able to calculate the real-life MPG of such a car and compare the energy expenses of plug-in hybrids and regular vehicles.

Learn more about MPG or the "miles per gallon" parameter in our MPG calculator or in our fuel consumption calculator.

The main difficulty in determining the PHEV's cost-effectiveness is that it is mainly dependent on your driving style. The purchase of such a vehicle is justified if you make a lot of short trips. However, once you deplete the battery and switch to gasoline, it is only as good as a regular car.

To calculate the MPG of your PHEV, determine how many trips you make within and beyond the battery-only (EV) range. For example, if your only trips during the month are for commuting — let's say, 15 miles on every workday — then you can assess your monthly mileage as 20 × 15 miles. Estimate how many long-distance trips you make each month, too; for instance, you make a 400-mile journey twice a month to visit your parents.

As our PHEV calculator already aggregates the most important data concerning the energy consumption of plug-in hybrids, there's no need for you to do thorough research. All you have to do is choose a car from the list, and our calculator will tell you how much you will save on fuel.

## What are the plug-in hybrids?

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) are cars that use two propulsion methods. The first is an internal combustion engine fueled with gasoline, just like in traditional vehicles. The second is an electric motor with a rechargeable battery.

🔎 You can read more about electric vehicles and batteries in our Tesla charging cost calculator and in our battery life calculator, respectively.

Unlike regular hybrid vehicles (HEV), plug-in hybrids operate primarily on an electric motor. They can use only the battery without drawing any energy from the combustion engine. Once the battery reaches a specific low state of charge, the car switches to gasoline as the primary propulsion method. On short distances, the PHEV will not use gasoline at all – it is used only to extend the battery-only (EV) range of the car.

The other difference between plug-in hybrids and traditional hybrids is that you can recharge the battery in a PHEV from the grid. Most producers provide the possibility to charge the car from a standard plug socket. You can also use dedicated charging stations. The batteries of HEV are typically recharged on board, for example, during regenerative braking, when kinetic energy is recaptured.

## What does our plug-in hybrid economy calculator do?

Estimating the fuel costs of a regular car is not a difficult task. All you have to do is find its MPG (miles per gallon) value in the specifications, determine your monthly mileage, and perform a simple division to obtain the fuel cost per month.

The calculations become more daunting when you are trying to find the energy costs of a PHEV. As it switches between two propulsion methods, you have to separately estimate the mileage within and beyond the EV (battery-only) range. Only then can you find the real-life MPG of the plug-in hybrid that will correspond to your driving style.

Intuitively, plug-in hybrids are the best solution for drivers who primarily operate on short distances. People can charge their car's battery frequently and spend months without burning fuel or without worrying about how much gas to use. On the other hand, a driver who often makes long trips will quickly discover that the real-life MPG of his plug-in hybrid does not differ much from the MPG of a car not equipped with an electric motor.

## Plug-in hybrid car models

Begin your analysis by choosing a plug-in hybrid from a range of available models. Our PHEV calculator allows you to select one of the models listed in the table below. All data comes from fueleconomy.gov and their . You may provide your own values if your vehicle is not on the list.

Model

Battery-only range (miles)

MPG (if operating on gas only)

Car price (US $) kWh / 100 miles (if operating on battery only) Audi A3 E-Tron 16 34 38,900 41 BMW 330e 22 31 43,700 47 BMW 740e 14 27 89,100 52 BMW i8 15 28 137,000 43 BMW X5 xdrive40e 13 24 64,000 59 Chevrolet Volt 53 37 34,000 31 Chrysler Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid 30 32 43,100 40 Ford C-Max Energi 19 38 32,600 35 Ford Fusion Energi 21 38 33,900 35 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid 27 40 35,400 34 Kia Optima PHEV 29 40 35,210 33 Mercedes C350e 20 30 46,400 56 Mercedes S550e 20 26 95,650 59 Mercedes-Benz GLE550e 19 21 67,000 69 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 32 51.4 41,600 31 Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid 14 22 78,000 71 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid 16 25 93,000 52 Porsche 918 Spyder 12 22 845,000 50 Toyota Prius Prime 25 54 27,100 25 Volvo XC90 T8 17 22.5 69,000 60 ## Calculating the real-life MPG The next step in calculating the MPG of your plug-in hybrid is to analyze your driving habits. Divide all the car trips you make during a month into ones that do and do not exceed the car's EV range. You need to provide our calculator with the average distance of a trip and the number of trips per month for each category. Our plug-in hybrid economy calculator assumes that the car operates either on battery only or – when the battery is depleted — on gasoline only. It is a necessary simplification, as many vehicles can also work in a so-called "blended mode", where the two propulsion methods are applied simultaneously. Nevertheless, it is a good approximation, especially for drivers who make most of their trips within the EV range. The fuel efficiency of a PHEV car is calculated using miles per gallon gasoline equivalent (MPGe). According to the , one gallon of gasoline corresponds to 33.7 kWh of electric energy. Thus, your real-life MPG is calculated with the following formula: $\text{MPGe} = \frac{s_1 + s_2}{s_1\times \frac{\text{EE}}{3370} + \frac{s_2}{\text{MPG}}}$ where: • $\text{MPGe}$ — Equivalent fuel efficiency of the PHEV (miles per gallon); • $s_1$ — Total mileage traveled on battery; • $s_2$ — Total mileage traveled on gasoline; • $\text{EE}$ — Energy efficiency of the battery in kWh per 100 miles; and • $\text{MPG}$ — Fuel efficiency of the PHEV operating on gasoline only. ## Costs of use Apart from the MPG of a plug-in hybrid, our calculator can also determine your expenses on gas and electricity. All you have to do is provide the price of fuel per gallon and electricity per kWh in your area. When choosing the price of electricity, double-check whether you can use a tariff with a variable cost per kWh depending on the time of the day (tiered electricity pricing). If so, you can open the Advanced mode to type in two different electricity prices. You can assign a different percentage of total charging time to each of them. You can also use these fields if, for example, you charge your car for free at your workplace. Then, simply set the tier 2 electricity price to$0 /kWh.

The PHEV calculator will automatically display the total monthly cost of using a plug-in hybrid. You can also open the Advanced mode to see the cost split into the gasoline and electricity parts.

## Comparison with a regular car

Now that you know your monthly energy expenses, you can compare the selected plug-in hybrid vehicle with any regular car that operates solely on a combustion engine. All you have to do is to find the MPG of this car on its producer's website.

Choose the value that best corresponds to your driving habits — for example, if you only use your car in the city at low velocities, choose the "city fuel economy" type. On the other hand, if most of your trips are made at high speeds, "highway fuel economy" will be more suitable.

Upon entering the MPG of the traditional car, our plug-in hybrid economy calculator will automatically determine the fuel costs based on your driving habits and monthly mileage. It will also display how much money you will save each month if you settle for a PHEV instead.

## Should you buy a PHEV?

Every plug-in hybrid vehicle will be cheaper than a regular car when it comes to fuel and energy expenses. It doesn't necessarily mean, though, that the sum you have to invest will return to you.

When you open the Advanced mode of the plug-in hybrid economy calculator, you will discover an additional section at the very bottom. You need to enter the price of a regular car and the price of a charging station if you wish to install one at your own house (if you already have a station or don't want one, type "0" into this box). Also, input the value of the government incentive/grant (if you receive any). Then, the PHEV calculator will compare the PHEV and regular car costs and tell you how many years the investment will be returned.

Remember that the economic factor should not be the only one influencing your decision. For example, hybrid cars are far more sustainable than regular ones. Also, make sure to consider other expenses and savings, such as:

• Toll exemptions: PHEV or HEV owners can use the highways without paying the toll in many countries.
• Insurance and maintenance: The rates may differ for hybrid and regular cars.
Bogna Szyk
Car model
Car model
Toyota Prius Prime
Range on battery
mi
Car cost
$Consumption rate kWh/100 mi MPG (gas only) US mpg Trips shorter than battery range Average distance travelled mi Trips per month Trips longer than battery range Average distance travelled mi Trips per month Real-life MPG Distance on battery mi Distance on gas mi Your MPG US mpg Monthly expenses Gas price$/
US gal
Electricity price
$/ kWh Total energy costs$/
mo
Comparison with a regular car
MPG of a regular car
US mpg
Expenses (gas)
$/ mo PHEV savings$/
mo
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