Charge your plug-in hybrid
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How to charge your plug-in hybrid (PHEV) ?

Hybrids, plug-in hybrids and all-electric – there’s a whole gamut of them on the e-mobility market, and they’re all different! Even if the charging ecosystem is principally aimed at owners of all-electric vehicles, PHEVs are also concerned.


How does a plug-in hybrid work?

Prioritize the electric motor of your plug-in hybrid in the city and the combustion engine on highways.

So how do we differentiate between an all-electric vehicle (EV) and a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV)? The major difference lies in what’s under the bonnet. Unlike EVs, PHEVs are powered by both an engine and a motor:

– an ICE (internal-combustion engine) fuelled by petrol;
– and an electric motor powered by a battery.

The aim behind this dual equipment is to optimise the vehicle’s consumption depending on the type of journey. An integrated on-board computer tells the car which type of power it should use to optimise consumption. In towns, the electric motor is prioritised and on faster roads, the car switches to the IC engine. In other words, PHEVs provide a reassuring half-way house smoothing the way for drivers in their transition towards EVs. 

How does PHEV charging work?

Over the past few years, hybrids have represented a tidy share of the automobile market. And plug-in hybrids are holding their own compared to non plug-ins in terms of growth. 

PHEVs are equipped with a small battery providing a range of between 18 and 43 miles (30 and 70 km) depending on the model in question. When driving a plug-in hybrid, you charge the electric motor through regenerative braking. The principle is to convert the energy generated during braking into electric energy to charge the battery. However, this is not sufficient to charge it up to 100%. 

As with EVs, PHEVs are charged by being plugged into a power outlet. At home or in the workplace, you can plug into a domestic socket or a private charging station. But you can also charge you PHEV at public charging stations. Chargemap is your best ally when it comes to locating them both in the UK and all over Europe. But, before you connect up, there are 3 points you need to take on board so that you can charge hassle-free. 

Not all charging stations are appropriate for PHEVs

Charge your PHEV at charging stations that accept power ratings of between 3.7 kW and 11 kW.

The first point to bear in mind is the type of charging station that can be used with plug-in hybrids. Charging at home is simple. But there are a few things to know before you start charging at public charging points. Let’s go through them together. 

Firstly, you should note that plug-in hybrids can only be charged at low power ratings. At the present time, they are equipped with Type 2 chargers which can charge at a maximum power rating of between 3.7 kW and 11 kW. This means you can forget about rapid and ultra-rapid charging for these vehicles. 

You need to understand that you cannot charge higher than the car-side power ratings even if the charging station boasts a higher rating. This is why you should go for charging stations that match your vehicle to avoid paying excessive charging bills. If you are not sure, check your PHEV’s power rating in the manufacturer’s manual.

Let us imagine that your vehicle can take 8 kW maximum. You decide to charge at a Type 2 22kW station where the energy you consume costs around £0.44/kWh. You will find yourself paying for a charging power that your plug-in hybrid can’t handle. If the charging station bills per minute, you may even have to pay an excess fee because your PHEV will take longer to charge. At a Type 2 7kW charging point with an energy cost of £0.29/kWh, you will be charging your PHEV at a fair price without hogging a charging point that isn’t meant for your car. 

Charging costs and how to avoid excess bills 

Prefer off-peak hours to charge your plug-in hybrid and carefully review the price sheet.

The second point that you need to grasp is that the pricing of a charging session depends on several factors.

If you charge your PHEV at home, the price per kWh is the one posted by your grid supplier. You should especially think about charging at off-peak hours if they are included in your contract.

If you charge at public charging points, the price depends on the station you use and the network’s invoicing policy. Some networks only bill you for the energy delivered to your vehicle by the charging station. Others also invoice an additional fee based on plug-in time on top of the energy delivered. And yet other networks add an idle fee if your leave your vehicle plugged in once it is fully charged. That’s why you must always consult the tariffs at the charging station where you want to top up before starting your session.

Charging a plug-in hybrid can take a few hours

Filter charging stations with services nearby to anticipate the waiting time for charging your plug-in hybrid.

The charging time for a PHEV depends on two factors: the power delivered by the charging station and the power rating your vehicle can take. To give you an idea, a vehicle with a 7kWh battery will take about 1hr 40 minutes to charge from 0 to 100% at a 7kW charging station.

You are no doubt wondering whether it is a good idea to charge your PHEV on the motorway. Here’s the answer in anticipation of your holiday travels. 

Most charging stations on motorways are equipped with rapid charging stations in order to optimise charging time and foster a rapid turnover of vehicles. But these charging points far exceed the power rating of a plug-in hybrid. Charging stations with Type 2 connectors are also available at motorway service stations and can charge up to 22 or 43kW. As we already stated at the beginning of this article, a PHEV can only take a power rating of between 3.7kW to 11kW, depending on the model.

Another point you need to know before charging at motorway service areas is that the tariffs are often much higher than at public charging stations located in towns and car parks. 

Once again, you should bear in mind that if you plug into a Type 2 charging point that can deliver up to 22 kW, your vehicle can only charge at the rate it can handle (11kW maximum). You won’t be able to charge any faster than in town and you will be paying a heftier sum. Charging your vehicle could last for hours, so think about opting for charging stations with nearby amenities, which you can find by using the Chargemap app filters.

Flat battery: running on empty

This is where the advantages of owning a PHEV shine through. When the battery of your electric motor has run out of power, the IC engine takes over. So you can totally avoid charging operations that can easily become long and costly during your holiday travels. This is a reassuring aspect, but doesn’t mean you should forget about charging altogether. By topping up at public charging points adapted to your PHEV, you can continue to benefit from all the advantages of e-mobility that are kind on your wallet and the environment. 

We hope we have answered all your questions about charging plug-in hybrids. The main message is that a PHEV can be charged at public charging points, but it is of paramount importance to choose charging stations that match your vehicle. What about you? Do you often charge your PHEV away from home?

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