Figured I'd stop in and say hi and talk about my first 2500 miles with my Niro PHEV.
I'm in southern California, and the $1500 state rebate on top of the federal one brings the price of the PHEV basically down to the same price of a comparable-trim-level hybrid. My commute is mostly rush-hour, 44 miles round trip, and I can charge both at home and at work.
This means my entire commute is in EV mode. In commute-style driving my EV range is a bit higher than the estimate - more like 30-35 miles. It drops off if the traffic thins out and the speeds go up, and it's better on the way to work (big downhill) than on the way home (going back up).
I got my carpool lane stickers, though they're not that useful to me because my commute doesn't have any real carpool lanes (just a badly placed ramp where you've already been sitting in traffic for 10 minutes before you can enter the ramp.)
After ~2500 miles, the cumulative fuel economy number on my dashboard is saying 199mpg, but that's including a trip up to Orange County and back (maybe 200 miles round trip) that was done almost entirely in hybrid mode, plus a few days where I didn't get to charge at work. At this point I've used less than three tanks of fuel total, so the number still goes up and down quite a bit if I use the gas motor since the total number of gallons in the equation isn't high yet.
The three modes are really just three different versions of hybrid. In my experience:
- In EV mode, the gas motor only comes on if you run out of battery, if you really floor it (getting on the freeway from a short ramp for example), or if you go faster than about 75-80mph. If I don't floor it, I can easily do an entire week of commuting with the gas motor never starting at all.
- In hybrid mode it still uses EV quite a bit, much more so than other hybrids I've driven. Even in hybrid mode the motor is off most of the time if you're in stop and go traffic, even during the "go" periods. In this mode I seem to do about 47mpg.
- In sport mode, it's still pretty quick to shut off the gas motor if you're coasting down a hill or sitting at a light. Acceleration is *dramatically* improved in sport mode. (I think this is probably more dramatic in the PHEV since the electric motor is quite a bit more powerful than in the regular hybrid.) If I leave it in Sport mode I probably do a little less than 40mpg, though I haven't used it a lot so I don't really have solid info.
I'm spending the vast majority of my time in EV mode. If I'm doing a longer drive where I know I can't do the whole thing in EV, I'm switching to hybrid mode for freeway stretches to have the battery available for when I'm stuck in traffic.
At home I'm using the factory 110v charger, and I have the timer thing set so it is only allowed to charge between midnight and 6AM when I pay super-off-peak $0.09/kwh. (Summer rates for me are $0.53/kwh 4PM-9PM, $0.28/kwh the rest of the time.) The 6 hour off-peak window at night is enough to get me back to full charge after my drive home from work.
I plug in at work (and press the little 'timer off' button to allow it to charge) at the 3.3kw ChargePoint station outside of my office for $0.15/kwh.
There are a lot of public charging stations that are more expensive than using gas. (I'm looking at you, Blink and evGo!)
Every once in a while (it's happened twice so far), the car seems to decide that once I've used the "timer off" button to enable a daytime charge at work it should start ignoring the timer forever instead of just that one time and it starts charging as soon as I plug it in when I get home (bad since that's during the $0.53/kwh time!) - not sure if this is a bug or if I'm doing something differently when it does this. (Holding the button down too long?) I'll post an update if I figure this one out.
The driving experience is quite good. It's definitely not as light on its feet as the (2nd-gen) Honda Fit it replaced, it basically handles like a station wagon with economy tires and 150kg of batteries in the back, but it is comfortable on long trips, the braking is good, and it's very predictable. Some nicer tires would probably improve the handling at the expense of some economy.
The cargo room is good, and was the primary reason I chose the Niro over the C-Max Energi. The load floor is nice and flat. The cargo area of the plugin C-Max is silly. (Seriously, go look at a picture.)
Our dog absolutely loves the rear A/C vent on hot days. He parks his face right in front of it.
I might use the 'turn on the AC remotely' feature more if it didn't put the 4-way flashers on when you used it. It's especially nice to have at the nearby mall that's in a very hot location but offers free EV charging.
A few minor complaints:
- Every time I walk past the car in the driveway with my keys in my pocket it flaps the mirrors back and forth.
- Every once in a while (once a week?) the audio playing via usb from my phone will get a bit staticy - switching to radio, waiting ~10 seconds, then switching back fixes it.
- The Uvo Eco app is buggy, at least on the iphone - it gets stuck on the logon screen pretty consistently and I have to double-tap and dismiss it, then reopen it. It sometimes fails to talk to the car even when it's parked in an area with good cell service.
- Whoever designed the lane-keeping sensors has never seen the condition of SoCal's freeways.
- The rear hatch goes up extremely slowly.
One thing to note is that Hyundai has made the battery warranty lifetime on the Ioniq. Kia hasn't done this on the Niro, but here in CA there's a mandatory 10-year/150k-mile hybrid battery warranty. Since 95+% of my driving is on battery, I'll be interested to see what the battery lifetime ends up looking like and whether I get free batteries sometime in the next decade.
I'm seeing a lot of Niro hybrids out there, but not so many PHEVs. The dealers didn't seem to have very many of them.
Anyway, I've rambled enough. Anyone else out there with the plugin?