What Is a Hybrid Car?
And how do hybrid cars work?
Find out how hybrid technology works in our expert guide to hybrid cars. We answer your questions, including “what is a hybrid car”, “how does a hybrid car work”, “what are the benefits of a hybrid car” and more.
Explore below to learn all about hybrid cars including how they work, their driving range, the road rax and other important questions.
- Also known as full hybrid, HEV or self-charging hybrid
- Electric battery and motor supplement a traditional engine
- Recharges itself, so no need to charge
- Offers lowered running costs & reduced tailpipe emissions
- Great entry to electric
So, what is a hybrid car?
The definition of a hybrid car is a vehicle that uses more than one method to create propulsion. The most common type of hybrid car on the roads is a petrol or diesel engine backed up by an electric motor.
Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) offer added power, lowered emissions and increased fuel efficiency.
They’re easy to drive and require little getting used to as the hybrid system works in the background.
How does a hybrid car work?
Hybrid cars use a battery and electric motor to support a petrol or diesel engine. The hybrid powertrain adds power whilst increasing fuel efficiency and lowering emissions, with most models capable of fully electric driving at lower speeds.
As well as an auxiliary battery that’s housed with the engine, hybrid powertrains add a large lithium-ion battery to power the electric motor. This large battery stores electricity which is then turned into power to assist the engine.
Full hybrid cars are fully self-charging. That means you never have to plug it in to top up the battery.
Instead, an electric generator gains power when you slow down or brake, which in turn recharges the battery.
This happens in the background so you never have to worry too much. Although there are some small changes to your daily driving habits that have a big effect on charging.
Most full hybrid cars offer electric-only driving at low speeds and for short distances.
This allows you to enjoy zero-emission driving through inner-city environments and shorter commutes.
Once you hit a certain speed, the engine kicks in and you’re running on full power.
A clever regenerative braking system uses the energy that’s usually lost when braking or deaccelerating, turning it into battery charge.
Keeping this system in mind when driving will extend your range. Avoid harsh accelerating and heavy braking. Steady, smooth driving will increase your fuel efficiency and driving range.
Some hybrid vehicles use a selection of driving modes so you can get the most out of your car. These are typically eco, normal and sport modes.
Eco modes prioritise fuel efficiency above all else. Normal offers the perfect mix for daily driving. Sport increases power for exciting performance.
What are the benefits of a hybrid car?
There are plenty of benefits to driving a hybrid car. This includes improved fuel efficiency, reduced emissions and extra power.
The electric battery supplements the combustion engine. This means you get more miles compared to similar petrol or diesel models.
This translates to cheaper running costs as you visit the petrol station less often.
As you’re getting through less fuel, you’re also producing fewer tailpipe emissions. This is great for eco-conscious drivers and inner-city driving.
You’ll cut your carbon footprint even further with a hybrid that offers pure electric driving.
The battery helps the engine to be more efficient. And it also adds power when needed! This is especially true if your HEV has a sports driving mode.
What’s the range of a self-charging hybrid?
The overall driving range of a self-charging hybrid varies by model, but you’ll get more miles than a comparable petrol or diesel vehicle.
This is because you have a full-sized engine with additional backup from a powerful battery and electric motor.
A full hybrid’s electric driving range depends on the model, driving conditions, driving behaviour and more.
Hybrid car FAQs
What is a self-charging hybrid car?
Hybrid cars are also known as self-charging hybrid cars.
What is a full hybrid car?
Hybrid cars are also known as full hybrid cars.
What’s the road tax on a hybrid car?
Hybrid car road tax depends on your emissions. A hybrid powertrain will typically have cheaper road tax when compared to a standard petrol or diesel car.