Tips for Hybrids, Plug-in Hybrids, and Electric Vehicles
Many of the gas-saving driving and maintenance tips for conventional vehicles also apply to hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and all-electric vehicles (EVs). However, here are some additional tips that may help you improve the fuel economy of these advanced vehicles.
Read the Owner's Manual
These vehicles can vary significantly in design, especially the way they manage energy use; tips that apply to one model may not apply to another. The manufacturer knows how to operate and maintain your vehicle to maximize fuel economy, driving range, and battery life. So, consult your owner's manual for tips specific to your vehicle.
Use the Economy Mode
Many of these vehicles come with an "economy mode" or similar feature that maximizes the vehicle's fuel economy. In some vehicles, this mode can be activated by simply pressing a button. The economy mode may limit other aspects of the vehicle's performance, such as acceleration rate, to save fuel.
Avoid Hard Braking
Anticipate stops and brake gently or moderately. This allows the vehicle's regenerative braking system to recover energy from the vehicle's forward motion and store it as electricity. Hard braking causes the vehicle to use its conventional friction brakes, which do not recover energy.1
Keep the Battery Charged
(EVs and Plug-in Hybrids Only)
For plug-in hybrids, keeping the battery charged ensures that you will use as much electricity and as little gasoline as possible, saving you fuel and money. For EVs, it helps maximize your driving range.
For lithium-ion batteries, the type typically used on EVs and plug-in hybrids, recharging a partially charged battery pack ("topping off the battery") does not degrade the battery's storage capacity or make it degrade more quickly.
Use Accessories Wisely
Accessories such as heating, air conditioning, and entertainment systems affect fuel economy on all vehicles, but they can have a greater effect on hybrids and electrics. So, keep that in mind when trying to maximize fuel economy or electric range. Pre-heating or pre-cooling the cabin of a plug-in hybrid or EV while the vehicle is still plugged in, for example, can extend its electric range.2,3
- Rask, E., D. Santini, and H. Lohse-Busch. 2013. Analysis of Input Power, Energy Availability, and Efficiency during Deceleration for X-EV Vehicles. SAE Int. J. Alt. Power. 2(2):350-361. DOI:10.4271/2013-01-1473.
- Lohse-Busch, H., M. Duoba, E. Rask, and M. Meyer. 2012. Advanced Powertrain Research Facility AVTA Nissan Leaf Testing and Analysis. Argonne National Laboratory.
- Lohse-Busch, H., M. Duoba, E. Rask, K. Stutenberg, et al. 2013. Ambient Temperature (20°F, 72°F and 95°F) Impact on Fuel and Energy Consumption for Several Conventional Vehicles, Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles and Battery Electric Vehicle. SAE Technical Paper 2013-01-1462. DOI:10.4271/2013-01-1462.