If a hybrid vehicle is a fusion between a gasoline and an electric vehicle, a plug-in hybrid marries a hybrid with an electric. As the name suggests, it is a hybrid vehicle that can be “plugged in” into an external power source.
A hybrid vehicle generally starts on a gasoline motor, which also charges the battery pack, and when the battery pack gets charged sufficiently, it moves to electric. On the other hand, a plug-in hybrid – because you can charge it like an electric car before you drive – can be driven exclusively on electric power for short distances, generally 60-80 km. So, if you are driving within city limits, you may not even have to fire the gasoline motor. For longer distances, as the battery gets discharged, the gasoline engine turns on and the vehicle operates as a conventional hybrid. The result is far higher fuel-efficiency than a conventional gasoline vehicle and a far higher driving range than a conventional electric vehicle.
On Wednesday, Volvo will launch the XC90 plug-in hybrid in India. It would be India’s second plug-in hybrid; the first was BMW i8, launched in February last year. While the i8 is a plug-in hybrid sports car and costs a steep Rs 2.2 crore, the XC90 is a daily-use SUV. We expect it to be priced a little over Rs 1 crore.