Ford and GM Plug-in Hybrids Are Both Gas-Free About 60 Percent of Driving

By · August 02, 2013

Ford Fusion Energi

Ford Fusion Energi

You get about the same percentage of pure electric miles from a series plug-in hybrid, like a Volt, as you do from a series-parallel plug-in hybrid, like the Ford Fusion Hybrid. That’s according to data from Ford and General Motors. Which technology you prefer may come down to the length of your commute and the size of your pocketbook.

Ford offers two plug-in electric models, the Fusion Energi sedan and the C-Max Energi small but tall wagon-like car. The automaker said that nearly 60 percent of trips in its Energi models are gas-free, based on aggregate data from its MyFord mobile application. The Energi models advertise an average of 21 miles of pure-electric range.

The number of pure electric miles is increasing as drivers own their plug-ins longer and learn how to drive for efficiency, said Ford. Early in the year, only 41 percent of miles were electric. By the middle of July, that had risen to nearly 60 percent. Ford credits the dashboard information offered by its MyFord system, such as driving efficiency and state of charge, for the improvement in all-electric miles driven over time.

Currently, about 60 percent of the Energi models on the road are C-Max and about 25 percent are Fusions. That fluctuates as more units are sold, but the C-Max has been on the market longer so “we see a larger usage rate with that vehicle,” said a Ford spokesperson.

Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt

GM claims some 62 percent of all miles driven since the Volt went on sale in late 2010 were electric miles. The vehicle tracks all-electric miles through its OnStar software. OnStar has a tutorial screen that provides tips for improving all-electric miles that the customer can read when the car is not moving, Kevin Kelly, manager of electrification technology communications, told

Ford sold 2,482 C-Max Energi units in the first six months of 2013, and 1,584 Fusion Energi units. The Energi C-Max, at $33,800, went on sale last fall and the Fusion Energi, at $39,500, in late winter 2013. The Ford models are roomier than the Chevrolet Volt, which starts at $39,100. But the Volt, a plug-in series hybrid (also referred to as an extended-range electric car) offers 35 electric miles. It has a 1.4-liter gas engine that kicks in to recharge the battery after those electric miles. GM sold 9,855 Volts in the first six months of 2013.

Cost, Results and Driver Preference

“The primary reason to choose a series-parallel hybrid over a series hybrid is cost,” John German, a former Honda engineer now with the International Center for Clean Transportation told

In a Volt-like series hybrid, the electric motor provides all the propulsion power, so in theory it’s more electric. Meanwhile, a gasoline-powered engine assists when maximum acceleration needed in a series-parallel hybrid. So according to German, the series-parallel plug-in hybrid can use a smaller and less costly electric motor. The battery pack is also smaller—and thus less costly—in a series-parallel hybrid. The Fusion Hybrid’s battery pack is a little less than half the size of the Volt’s.

If all you care about is driving more continuous electric miles, the Chevrolet Volt provides more total EV miles, about 35 to 40, than the Ford Energi plug-in hybrid models, which provide about 20 miles. But in terms of total percentage of miles driven using electricity for most drivers, the Ford Energi models and the Volt are about equal in terms of total percentage of miles driven using electricity, according to data reported by the companies.

“I think the buyers of plug-in electric vehicles partly pick which one to buy based on the length of their commutes,” Mike Omotoso, senior manager for Global Powertrain at LMC Automotive Inc. told “Then of course there is brand loyalty, style preference, vehicle size, and price.”

The biggest hurdle to more electric miles driven, regardless of technology, may be a dearth of charging points. “As we see an increase in the number of public charging stations across the country, I think we’ll see more EV driving,” said Omotoso.


· · 5 years ago

So, the Volt drivers put on 2x the miles per year than the Energi drivers?

If 20 miles electric range are good enough for "nearly" 60% of the time and 40 miles electric range are good enough for 62% of the time, then Energi drivers don't drive much then...

· · 5 years ago

What's the point of this article? Aside from some curiously useless stats it's a waste of time.

BTW I consistently get 50+ electric miles out of my '13 Volt

· · 5 years ago

Maybe it is saying that plug in hybrid drivers are smart. That is they buy the car that best meets their needs.

· · 5 years ago

'Maybe it is saying that plug in hybrid drivers are smart. That is they buy the car that best meets their needs.

but are Toyota PIP different? do they significantly drive with the combustion engine running?

Would a PHEV-60 or PHEV-80 (BMW i3 with a normal fuel tank and mountain mode) operate differently?

· · 5 years ago

lpati: "but are Toyota PIP different? do they significantly drive with the combustion engine running?"

The PiP offers a significantly smaller range than the cars mentioned in this article. With only 9-11 miles of EV per charge, it's safe to say that yes, plenty of PiP drivers drive with the ICE running.

· · 5 years ago

Series and parallel PHEV are confused a lot. The only true and pure series PHEV was the Fisker Karma, to my knowledge. It has no gearbox mechanism from its engine to the drivetrain. GM's Volt is mostly a series PHEV but can act as a parallel in certain cases. It's gearbox is connected to the wheels via a planetary gearing system, and GM admitted this. You can check out its incredible gearbox on youtube and see how it works. I think the gist with PHEVs is that their drivers have more gasoline anxiety then pure EV drivers have range anxiety. In the meantime, PHEVs are a great stepping stone to pure EVs.

· · 5 years ago

"Currently, about 60 percent of the Energi models on the road are C-Max and about 25 percent are Fusions."

I thought these were the only two Energi models offered. What are the remaining 15%?

The way Ford counts electric miles is different from GM. Ford "cheats" and says that if the car is operating as a hybrid, and turns the gas engine off (e.g. slowing down or rolling downhill), it counts the miles as "electric". This isn't really true because the energy for those miles came from gasoline, not the wall. GM is much more honest, and once the Volt goes to extended range (i.e. hybrid) mode, it no longer counts the miles as electric. The result is that Fords numbers are artificially inflated - you aren't comparing apples to apples here.

· · 4 years ago

There's nothing "false"about Ford's claims above. The only thing about their data that isn't accurate is that their electric only range is much greater than 21 miles. We are consistently seeing 30+ miles of electric only miles in our Fusion Energi. That is not counting regen miles when in hybrid mode. When factoring those in, we can see even better all electric driving. If anything, Ford's stated 21 miles of electric only range is very conservative.

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