Exploring the Efficiency of Plug-in Hybrids

I have always been a numbers person, fascinated by statistics and their impact. Recently, I had the opportunity to drive a plug-in hybrid and my obsession with numbers grew even stronger. It made me realize that driving a plug-in hybrid is different from driving a petrol or electric car – it’s not just your right foot that influences efficiency, but also how often you plug in the car.

As an ideal candidate for a plug-in hybrid, I have the advantage of being able to charge the car at home and undertake both local and long journeys. While electric cars might require waiting for the battery to charge during a long journey, the convenience of quickly filling the tank with petrol in a plug-in hybrid makes it a better option.

During my time with the Peugeot 408 plug-in hybrid, I found myself doing more long journeys than usual, somewhat negating the benefits of local electric driving. On highways, at higher speeds, the car primarily operates on petrol once the battery is depleted. However, recently I decided to fully explore the electric range of the 408 during a week of local driving.

According to Peugeot, the fully charged 12.4kWh battery of the 408 can offer up to 40 miles of electric range. However, in my experience, I never came close to that figure. Depending on the route, speed, and driving conditions, I usually achieved a range of 20 to 30 miles on a full charge. To truly harness the benefits of a plug-in hybrid, a significant portion of driving should fall within that electric range.

One great feature of the 408 is its ability to run purely on electric power without needing the engine to kick in. Most of the time, I left it in electric mode until the battery was depleted, at which point it seamlessly switched to hybrid mode.

After a week of predominantly electric driving, I was astounded to discover that I achieved an impressive 470mpg over 116 miles. The fuel gauge didn’t even budge during that time. This experience truly highlighted the benefits that plug-in hybrid vehicles can offer.

Another advantage of the 408 is the convenience of home charging. While public chargers are available, they can be expensive and may hinder access for fully-electric vehicles. With a plug-in hybrid, relying on a proper charging solution at home is not always necessary.

Now that my week of “rest” for the Peugeot 408 is over, it’s back to tackling motorway miles. Although at times it may feel like undoing the progress made through electric driving, the 408 still manages an impressive 45mpg even on an empty battery. It consistently proves its comfort and reliability on longer trips.

Overall, there is very little to dislike about the Peugeot 408. It continues to impress as a daily driver, and I still have a month left to thoroughly explore its features before I hand the keys back to Peugeot.


Q: What makes a plug-in hybrid different from a petrol or electric car?
A: While the efficiency of a petrol or electric car mainly depends on your driving style, a plug-in hybrid’s efficiency is influenced by how often you charge the car.

Q: How far can a plug-in hybrid go on electric power?
A: It varies depending on factors such as the route, speed, and driving conditions. The Peugeot 408 plug-in hybrid claims a range of up to 40 miles on a fully charged battery.

Q: Do plug-in hybrids require a dedicated charging solution at home?
A: Unlike electric cars, plug-in hybrids can be charged conveniently at home without necessarily needing a proper charging solution.

Q: Can plug-in hybrids be charged at public charging stations?
A: While it is possible, relying on public chargers for plug-in hybrids can be expensive and might limit access for fully-electric vehicles.