Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle Power Management

One of the great advantages of plug in hybrids is that unlike most electric cars, they can make use of the extensive use of the existing network of exploding dinosaur hyperchargers to gain zillions of electrons worth of energy in a matter of minutes, allowing good long distance use, while the electric portion makes the cars great for cheap and green short excursions.

As a plug in hybrid driver, you may be wondering how to best maximize the electrons and exploding dinosaurs for fun and profit on extended road trips: The following case study will outline a strategy for power management based on various scenarios you could encounter.

Let’s say you are on a hypothetical 300 mile road trip in a hypothetical plug in hybrid car with 30 miles of EV range, and the following modes: Hold – the mode where the car maintains a set charge, Hybrid – the mode where the car automatically decides whether to use gas or electricity as it sees fit, EV – the mode where the car is only allowed to use electricity. Suppose the plan is as follows: 5 miles from your house in town#1 to freeway, 80 miles of freeway #1, 30 miles going upslope, 30miles going downslope, 60 miles of freeway#2, 10 miles of city#1, 40 miles of freeway#3, 30 miles of highway#1, 25 miles of backroads near town#2 to your destination.

  1. Make room for regeneration: drive a few initial miles on EV mode so you can use regenerative braking. Your house is 5 miles of roads from the freeway, driving it in EV costs 4 miles of range (26 left)
  2. ICE is happiest on highway: once you get on the freeway/highway, turn off EV mode and use hybrid mode or hold mode, both will be more efficient than spending all your electricity on the initial highway portion. You switch to hold mode once you get on freeway#1
  3. After 60 miles of freeway, there is an accident ahead spanning 10 miles and causing low speeds. Switch to EV mode, and you use 6 miles of range (20 left) to get through this traffic. EV mode is like an ultra-efficient first gear, it is much more efficient than running your gas engine at speeds of 0-20mph
  4. You take the rest of freeway#1 without incident. As you near the upslope portion of road, you realize 1) the downslope afterwards will give you some range back so you should free up space for it and 2) your engine will climb better with ev assist, so you disable hold mode to climb upslope, losing 20 miles of range (0 left)
  5. Going downslope your car is regenerating energy, and the 30miles downslope returns 25 miles to your batteries (25 left)
  6. Once the downslope portion has ended and you returned to the flatter roads of freeway#2, you turn on hold mode once again
  7. Once you reach city#1, you switch to EV mode for maximum efficiency in city driving, and find out the path you want to take is no longer available. The alternate route costs 15 miles, during which you also turn into a local gas station to refuel your car, and eat at a nearby restaurant. Unfortunately there was no EV charging. (10 left)
  8. 10 miles into freeway #3, you turn on hold mode once again and encounter a 2 mile stretch of slower traffic due to construction, perfect time to use ev mode, costing 2 miles of ev range (8 left)
  9. You take the rest of freeway#3 in hold mode without incident, and eventually turn onto highway #1. There are traffic lights on various segments highway#1 with rush hour traffic lined up and waiting for the signal. It takes a few minutes to get through each one and of course you should use EV mode waiting in traffic light traffic, and you spend 3 miles of ev range on the traffic lights and roundabouts through the 30 miles and leave highway#1 with 5 miles of range
  10. 5 miles into the backroads near town #2, you realize you are 20 miles from your destination and have 5 miles of battery left. Now is the time to use the rest of that battery, no sense in wasting gas. You switch to EV mode, drive carefully, and manage to squeeze out 10 miles before the gas engine comes on and you drive in hybrid mode. You also realize the stealth benefit of EV mode as you creep up on a deer, observe it for several seconds, snap both a picture and a selfie before honking loudly to startle it just because you can.
  11. 0.5 miles from your destination and after a brief downhill portion that regenerated some charge, you try your best to keep the car in ev mode through the carefullest driving, and arrive at your destination with your car’s minimum allowable state of charge and plenty of fuel saved. You shut down the car before the gas engine could come on, then knock on the door with your charging cable in hand.

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