Roadkill- my Hybrid Niro starts in EV mode sometimes, no motor. Sometimes you will hear the "growl" of the pedestrian speaker coming on, but still in EV mode. I can drive in full EV at times 1/3mile to the highway from housing streets if I take it easy. Other times the battery comes on right away. It's the ICE/motor logic.
So for OP's wife, it would be possible to drive the 1.1 mi. to work, but not probable.
As for A/C, it is all electric, not belt driven, so the load on engine/MPG is much less. I haven't noticed any difference in MPG running it or not. I've never driven up the grapevine, but Niro is not a champ at going up hills. Fortunately you have a Sport mode for more power, which can be manually shifted for even more torque/power. That will take care of about any ascent.
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