When the Chevrolet Volt was introduced in late 2010, other auto manufacturers didn’t rush to beat or even meet GM to the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) market. Indeed, it wasn’t a re-run of a decade earlier when Toyota was first bringing the Prius from Japan to the United States. Back then, Honda hopped to it in order to beat them to the plugless hybrid punch with the original Insight.
Eventually Toyota fitted the Prius with a larger battery and plug-in capability in 2012. Along with the Fisker Karma exotic, the Volt and Prius Plug-in were the main contenders in the nascent PHEV market.
Step ahead to 2013 and Ford and Honda are now fielding PHEV versions of their mainstream sedans. Ford offers two models that add plugs and bigger batteries to conventional hybrid electric powertrains: the C-MAX Energi and Fusion Energi. Honda has developed a plug-in version of the Accord. Neither OEM has chosen to adopt a plug-in only nameplate like the Chevy’s Volt. To see how the still-early cohort of this new technology fairs in terms of ecoratings, take a look at the table below.
The Accord, which can only cruise for 13 miles without using its gasoline engine, has the shortest all-electric range of the three vehicles rated; however, it bests its PHEV competitors with an eRating of 220. This is thanks to superior gasoline-mode efficiency and an ultra-clean emissions controls that result in very little smog forming pollution. Ford’s PHEVs, the C-MAX and Fusion Energi versions, share their powertrain, resulting in similar EPA-rated fuel economy values and matching eRatings of 189.
All three of these PHEVs handily topped the eRatings of their conventional counterparts. The Ford Fusion Energi reduces the environmental impact relative to the non-hybrid Fusion version by 40 percent. The Accord Plug In is 29 percent better than its conventional counterpart. Indeed, the Accord Plug In still comes out on top when compared to the Volt and Prius Plug-in which, as discussed in a previous article, scored eRatings of 202 and 211, respectively.
The PHEV segment is about to grow again with Mitsubishi bringing the Outlander PHEV and as BMW rolls out its new “i” series next year. The pathbreaking carbon-fiber bodied electric i3 will become available with a range extender, putting it in the PHEV camp, along with the i8 PHEV supercar. And if the addition of BMW plug-ins aren’t enough to sate the high-end green market, Porsche and Ferrari are both fielding super-car PHEVs in the near future as well.
|Make and Model||$MSRP||Specs||City / Hwy / Comb MPG|
|Honda Accord Plug-in||40,570||196 hp hybrid drive,|
13 mile range
|47 / 46 / 46|
|Ford C-MAX Energi||34,495||188 hp hybrid drive,|
21 mile range
|44 / 41 / 43|
|Ford Fusion Energi||39,495||188 hp hybrid drive,|
21 mile range
|44 / 41 / 43|