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Nico ASKED THE GUIDE

Should I buy a plug-in hybrid or an electric car?

We're going to have to move up to a medium SUV this year due to growing family. We really like the Tiguan 1.4T range but we’re a bit concerned about buying a car with just an internal combustion engine just on the cusp of the electric-vehicle revolution. We have solar panels on the roof and are only using a quarter of what we produce.

Is the new Escape plug-in hybrid worth waiting or should I just book a RAV4 Hybrid now and wait six months? We mostly only do short city distances.

The Ford Escape plug-in should be an interesting vehicle when it arrives, with 165kW of power and something like a 50km electric-only range. It will be here sometime this year, but the exact timing is still a trade secret.

The Toyota RAV4, meanwhile, isn’t a plug-in hybrid, so it can’t be recharged form your home solar panels (which the plug-in Escape could be). Frankly, if you’re making four times the power your household needs with your solar array, you’re in the pound seats for owning a plug-in hybrid which could put that excess electricity generation to very good use. That’s especially true if most of your driving is around town within a 20km radius or so of home-base.

That said, the new RAV4 Hybrid is gaining rave reviews as well as recording very sharp real-world fuel-economy figures. But a plug-in hybrid in a household with excess solar capacity could almost be run for free.

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