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NREL - National Renewable Energy Laboratory
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Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles

NREL's vehicle systems analysts work to advance the technology of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), also known as grid-connected or grid-charged hybrids.

Technology Targets and Metrics Analysis

We use our Technical Targets Tool to determine pathways for maximizing the potential national impact of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. This assessment includes consideration of how consumers will value the new vehicle technology based on attributes such as:

  • Acceleration
  • Fuel economy and consumption
  • Cargo capacity
  • Cost.

We use the resulting competitiveness index to predict the vehicle's market penetration rate. Then, we can create a total national benefits picture after adding in other factors such as:

  • Existing fleet turnover
  • Typical driving behavior
  • The relative attributes of each technology.

Vehicle Design

We use our suite of tools to analyze plug-in vehicle behavior and battery performance over both standard and real-world drive cycles, and charging scenarios.

Our design analysis helps provide vehicle developers with information on technical challenges. This helps generate technical targets for advancing components ideally suited for plug-in hybrid electric vehicle applications.

Also, we use simulation tools to examine alternative control strategies, and to optimize hybrid control based on fuel economy, and vehicle lifetime cost, etc.


We collaborate with the NREL Energy Storage Project to explore the life, cost, size, type attributes, packaging, and management of batteries in plug-in hybrid applications. We also guide the development of improved battery chemistries and systems for optimized plug-in hybrid vehicle designs.

Learn More

For general information, refer to the plug-in hybrid electric vehicles webpage. For technical information, refer to our publications.