Home » Plug-In Hybrids Come With An Insane Warranty If You Live In One Of These 11 States

Plug-In Hybrids Come With An Insane Warranty If You Live In One Of These 11 States

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If you live in certain states, and you want to buy a vehicle with the best warranty in the business, buy a plug-in hybrid. These vehicles are covered by a 15 year, 150,000 mile warranty that applies to pretty much every single high-cost powertrain component — and no, this warranty does not apply to EVs. Only plug-hybrids. Here, let me tell you about this incredible “TZEV” warranty, which covers a humongous list of components on my newly-acquired 2021 BMW i3 for another 12 years, 130,000 miles.

I just spent 30 large on the Holy Grail of BMW i3s — a 2021 BMW i3S Rex in Galvanic Gold with Giga World Interior. If that huge name means nothing to you, it just means that I bought a carbon fiber electric car outfitted with a gasoline range-extender (and it’s a “sport” trim with a nice interior). It’s a lot of money, though I will be saving thousands on tires (as I mentioned yesterday) and potentially thousands more on avoided repairs. What do I mean by that last part? Well, my i3, despite being three years old, is still covered by the best warranty in the entire auto industry: California’s “TZEV” warranty, formerly called the “PZEV” warranty.

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It’s a warranty that applies to certain cars (here’s a list of TZEV cars) registered in California, as well as 10 other states, as BMW describes in its 2024 warranty booklet:

*The California Emission Control System Limited Warranty applies to all 2024 U.S.-specification BMW vehicles registered in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

You may have noticed that that’s actually 14 states, but BMW notes that “TZEV models registered in Delaware, Pennsylvania or Washington have different emissions warranty coverage.” Ford also notes: “Delaware, Pennsylvania and Washington did not adopt the California TZEV emission warranty; standard California emission warranty coverage applies to all emission components.” I’ve read some conflicting info on that, but for now, I can tell you with certainty that the 11 states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont — require all PHEVs to have specific components covered by a 15 year, 150,000 mile warranty.

Plug-In Hybrids Offer A Better Warranty Than Gas Cars, EVs, Or Regular Hybrids

Here’s a look at BMW’s warranties available across its product line — as you can see, the longest warranty available applies solely to TZEVs (plug-in hybrids):

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Here’s Ford’s warranty overview; you’ll notice that the longest bar is, again, the TZEV bar:

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And here’s how Mazda breaks down its warranties, depending upon whether it’s a gas car, a plug-in hybrid, or an EV. Here’s gas:

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Here’s plug-in hybrid:

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And here’s fully electric:

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You’ll notice that gas cars do have a California and Federal warranty for emissions-related parts, but those are only up to eight years, 80,000 miles. EVs have pretty much no warranty in California-emissions states.

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EVs May Soon Get A Better Warranty

Here’s a Reddit post in which folks are discussing why EVs have a worse warranty than plug-in hybrids:

California does NOT have a 10 year 150,000 warranty requirement for ZEV (BEV) batteries.

I’ve read different things regarding California’s battery warranty, with some people assuming BEVs fall under the PZEV classification so they have a 10 year 150,000 mile warranty, so I emailed the California Air Resources Board directly to ask. This is the email I received back.

California mandates that PZEV certified vehicles be covered for 15 years/ 150k miles for all emissions related parts and batteries or energy storage devices of vehicles certified to the Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV) emissions standard be covered for 10 years or 150,000 miles, whichever comes first. To determine your vehicle’s emissions standard, refer to the emissions label under the hood of the vehicle to verify eligibility or contact the manufacturer directly for verification.

If your vehicle is warranted due to the year and mileage and the manufacturer is not honoring the warranty, you will need to obtain a case number from the manufacturer directly. Once you obtain a case number, we can send you a warranty complaint form to begin an investigation.

The emission warranties that California mandates does not include vehicles that have been certified as Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEV). To confirm warranty information on a ZEV, you would need to contact the manufacturer directly and they would be able to inform you what the warranty is for the vehicle or battery. Their contact information can be found in the owner’s manual.

The good news is that EVs will likely get an improved warranty starting in 2026, with the California Air Resources Board writing on its website:

The new regulation also takes regulatory steps to assure that ZEVs can be full replacements to gasoline vehicles, hold their market value for owners, and that used car buyers are getting a quality vehicle that will not pollute.

By model year 2030, the rules require the vehicle to maintain at least 80% of electric range for 10 years or 150,000 miles. (Phased in from 70% for 2026 through 2029 model year vehicles.) By model year 2031, individual vehicle battery packs are warranted to maintain 75% of their energy for eight years or 100,000 miles. (Phased in from 70% for 2026 through 2030 model years.) ZEV powertrain components are warranted for at least three years or 50,000 miles.

It Doesn’t Look Like Regular Hybrids Get The Same Coverage

Just out of curiosity, let’s look at the Toyota Prius hybrid’s warranty and compare it to the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid’s warranty. From their respective warranty booklets. Here’s regular Prius:

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And here’s Prius Prime plug-in:

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There’s no mention of the 15 year, 150,000 mile warranty in the regular hybrid Prius booklet, but there is in the plug-in booklet.

A Breakdown Of California Emissions-States’ Warranty Coverage

Here’s a breakdown of California air resources board warranties, per the organization itself:

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So it looks like, for now, it’s plug-in hybrids that offer the best warranty. And my god is it a great one.

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A Look At How Absurdly Comprehensive The TZEV Warranty Really Is

Just how comprehensive is the TZEV warranty? Shockingly. Check out this humongous list of BMW i3 parts that are all warrantied for 15 years, 150,000 miles (or a remaining 12 years, 130,000, since my i3 is a 2021 with 20,000 miles on the clock). NOTE: My BMW i3 is essentially the same as a fully-electric i3, except it comes with a small gasoline “range extender” under the rear floor. I mention this because the inclusion of that small engine is the only reason why my i3 qualifies for this absurd warranty. The fully-electric model does not qualify, as you can see below (another note: this list is from 2021, so the states noted in the rightmost column would now get the full warranty, if I understand it correctly):

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That is an absolutely absurd warranty! It covers the battery for 10 years, 150,000 miles (I’ve already leveraged this and received a new battery), and look at that huge list of 15 year, 150,000 mile coverages! The APU — that’s the gasoline engine — is covered! The electric heater is covered. The electric AC compressor is covered. The electric motor that drives the car is covered. All the power electronics are covered. Electric power steering is covered. Electric coolant pumps are covered. The radiator cooling fan is covered. The APU’s fuel pump and starter motor are covered.

Ever major expensive component is covered. For 15 years, 150,000 miles! (10 years for the battery). That’s an absolutely absurd warranty — better than that offered by any automaker today.

If any significant powertrain component on my 2021 i3 fails, I’ll just head on over to the dealer and get it replaced for free. AC compressor failures and electric motor bearing failures are not uncommon on i3s, but am I worried? Not anymore. I’ve still got to handle suspension maintenance and brakes (even though, really, the brakes will last forever since the i3 has such strong regen), but otherwise, I won’t have to do any wrenching on this i3. All thanks to a bonkers warranty that only applies to plug-in hybrids.

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As if we needed another reason to love PHEVs. 

 

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LastPickInGym
LastPickInGym
24 days ago

And suddenly you’ve discovered why, I’m guessing among perhaps other reasons, OEMs are against PHEVs. I cannot imagine the business case for something like this. It would finance’s nightmare. I wouldn’t want to underwrite the risk of this, no way. I’d rather not sell a PHEV than deal with this. I’m in favor of regulation and spurring emissions improvements, but this drives the industry the other direction, disincentivizing a good option (PHEV’s) due to WILD, decade later liabilities. I can’t imagine how you’d accrue for this on a P&L, there are so many unknowns.

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