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Watch: Plug-in Hybrid Tech In Cars Explained

Modified On May 27, 2024 01:33 PM By Ansh for BMW XM

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While plug-in hybrid vehicles do have a higher mileage and a larger battery pack, they also attract a bigger price tag

Plug-in Hybrid System Explained

The Indian automotive market has seen a lot of new hybrid vehicles in recent years, but most of them are from brands like Maruti, Toyota, and Honda. And they are basically of two types: Mild Hybrid and Strong Hybrid.

But there is another category of hybrid cars, called plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs), which are majorly found in the premium segment. Here's how they work.

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Basics Of Plug-in Hybrid


Unlike mild and strong hybrid setups, which have a battery pack that is charged solely by the engine, plug-in hybrid cars, as their name suggests, can be plugged into a charger to charge their battery pack.

Their working is similar to that of strong hybrid cars like the Maruti Grand Vitara and Toyota Innova Hycross, where the larger battery pack and electric motor setup assist the engine in delivering better mileage. And since they have a bigger battery pack, they also offer a higher pure-EV range in the city.

Also Read: Tata Punch EV Long Range vs Citroen eC3: Which One Offers More Real-world Range?

Plug-in hybrid cars usually have a more powerful set of electric motors to take the load off the engine, and provide much higher mileage. The BMW XM, for example, has a claimed fuel efficiency of 61.9 kmpl and a pure EV range of up to 88 km.

BMW XM Cabin

However, there is one difference between plug-in hybrid and traditional strong hybrid systems. In strong hybrid cars, if the charge in the battery runs out, the engine acts as a generator to recharge the battery. However, this is not possible in plug-in hybrid vehicles due to the bigger size of the battery. In these vehicles, the engine does supply some charge to the battery pack, but it is not enough for the vehicle to keep going and the battery pack needs to be plugged-in to a power source to recharge.

Mileage Difference

BMW XM Engine

In strong hybrid systems, you can get a mileage of over 20 kmpl (Maruti Grand Vitara and Toyota Innova Hycross are prime examples), but in the BMW XM, the fuel efficiency goes up to 61.9 kmpl thanks to its plug-in hybrid setup. Now, this might look like a big difference on paper, but in reality, the gap is not so big.

Since plug-in hybrid vehicles can’t be charged by the engine, the mileage goes down drastically when the battery pack runs out of charge. Conversely, since the battery pack is constantly being recharged by the engine in strong hybrid cars, the mileage is largely unchanged.

Also See: How To Easily Enter The Tall Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600

During a long drive, the mileage of the strong hybrid car will remain constant, while the mileage of a plug-in hybrid car will fluctuate depending on the battery pack’s state of charge.

Higher Price Tag


Due to the bigger battery pack, electric motors, and the overall plug-in hybrid setups, these vehicles tend to attract a higher price tag as well. The BMW XM for example is priced at Rs 2.60 crore (ex-showroom) while its on-road price goes over the Rs 3 crore mark. While the XM has a pretty hefty price tag, other PHEVs that were sold in India before were also priced in the premium or luxury segment, which made them not so easily accessible.

Also Read: Kia EV3 Revealed, Compact Electric SUV Offers Up To 600 Km Of Claimed Range

As of now, we have a good mix of strong and plug-in hybrid cars in India that are capable of providing a high mileage. Plug-in hybrids are still limited in India due to their high prices, but would you like to see more of them on the roads? Let us know in the comments.

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