By Tara Baukus Mello (December 20, 2005)
Toyota spent much of the last five years since the introduction of its Prius hybrid vehicle telling the public that it doesn't need to be plugged in. Yet there's a small but growing contingent that wants the flexibility of being able to drive their hybrids on electricity only, without using a drop of gas. That group took matters into their own hands to create a new type of car: a plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle (PHEV).
Why pursue electric-only technology with a vehicle that's already more environmentally friendly and fuel efficient than most? The hybrid technology lends itself to an electric-only conversion relatively easily, and with electric-only power available for short distances, fuel economy goes up to more than 100mpg. That sure puts a lot of distance between fill-ups, doesn't it?
How it works
We tell you who's building plug-in hybrid cars, what modifications are needed, and how they drive.
Are plug-in hybrids the wave of the future? Although some issues need to be addressed, the cars are finding proponents in places of power.