The first hybrid car entered the market in 1997 when Toyota launched the Toyota Prius. Today, there is a very large selection of hybrid cars worldwide, and Toyota in particular is still at the forefront of this development.
In the UK, these cars are becoming increasingly popular, as the range, price and availability fit the Brits’ better. This is especially true when it comes to the question of range, as hybrid cars eliminate the fear of the car dying, which is still a risk factor for pure electric cars.
But what is a hybrid car, how does a hybrid car work and what are the best hybrid cars on the market for you? See our guide of these various considerations below.
What is a hybrid car?
In general, hybrid cars are known for combining an electric motor with a combustion engine, hence the name. The main rule is that the car uses the electric motor at lower speed, while the combustion engine supplies the car with fuel for accelerations and higher speed. The fuel for hybrid cars is often petrol, but can also be diesel or biofuel. The combination of the two engine types makes it possible to take advantage of both so that you generally get better fuel economy and can drive more climate-friendly.
Generally, there are three types of hybrid cars:
- Mild hybrid: A mild hybrid car uses only a small amount of electricity via a smaller engine, while most of the power comes from a combustion engine fuelled by petrol or diesel.
- Full hybrid (FHEV): This is the classic hybrid car with both a combustion engine and an electric motor. The battery is charged while driving and does not need to be connected to a recharging station. In other words, full hybrids are self charging hybrid cars.
- Plug in hybrid cars (PHEV): A plugin hybrid runs on both petrol and electricity, but is predominantly electric. A plug-in hybrid’s battery is charged with a cable at a charging station and drives like a "pure" electric car on shorter trips. Refueling is relatively fast.
Below you can read more about the classic hybrid car.
🔍 How do hybrid cars work?
While driving, the car automatically switches between the combustion engine and the electric motor.
Starting the vehicle
The car starts with its electric motor.
The car adjusts the amount of electricity needed according to your speed and your driving style. When you increase the speed, the car switches to the combustion engine - and the battery starts charging. This is the way a self charging hybrid works.
Acceleration and high speed
The petrol engine takes over when accelerating, and the electric motor works together with the combustion engine when your car has to maintain a high speed, e.g. on the motorway.
Brake and stop
The battery of the electric motor is recharged when you slow down or brake. This is done via an energy recovery unit (kinetic energy), which is activated when the car slows down or brakes.
ℹ️ Pros and cons of a hybrid car
✔️ Benefits of a hybrid car
The biggest advantage of a hybrid car is its low CO2 emissions. Since the petrol engine is combined with an electric motor, the car's fuel consumption is significantly reduced. As a hybrid car driver, you therefore save on fuel costs and help the environment at the same time.
In addition, this type of car is very quiet when running on battery, which reduces noise pollution considerably compared to cars with combustion engines.
A hybrid car has automatic transmission, which for many drivers is a positive thing.
You can refuel relatively quickly compared to a regular petrol car.
Hybrid cars run with great fuel economy! This is because the electric motor supports the fuel engine at high speeds.
❌ What is the downside of hybrid cars?
In most hybrid cars, the combustion engine is the primary source of energy. Once the electric motor is discharged, the car works completely like a petrol car and pollutes just as much.
Consequently, the combustion engine also causes the same noise level as petrol and diesel cars when the hybrid car has switched off the electric motor.
The price can also be too high for many drivers: A hybrid car costs much more than a petrol or diesel car. At the same time, there are not many of the smaller car models in hybrid versions, so the price level is generally high.
Sometimes, the silent hybrid car can pose a danger to pedestrians and cyclists who may not hear it coming.
Not all models of this type of car can have a towbar fitted. So if you often find yourself in need of a trailer for example, it can be a challenge.
🔋 Plug-in hybrid car
A plug-in hybrid car differs from full hybrid cars in that a plug-in has a much greater range than the so-called conventional hybrid. Their battery is simply bigger. Their range can be up to 35 miles when driving on the electric motor. When the electric motor is discharged, the petrol motor takes over.
Therefore, plug-in hybrids are very suitable for city driving if you want to keep fuel levels down and drive more green. Plug-in hybrids also have automatic transmission, making city driving even easier.
However, the range depends on several factors, and is reduced if (for example) it is cold (very reduced in frost), at high speed, if other electrical components are turned on, or if the battery is not fully charged.
You also have to take into account that you need a charging station either in your own home or close to where you live, as this type of car is not a self charging hybrid.
On the other hand, especially in larger cities, you can park for free in several charging parking spaces with a plug-in hybrid car (but not a conventional hybrid, which does not need to be charged).
💸 Price for a hybrid car
The price of a hybrid car depends on several factors. First of all, a plug-in hybrid car will be more expensive than a conventional hybrid car due to its longer range.
A hybrid car price is generally higher than 23,000 pounds.
🤔 Which hybrid car should you choose?
A lot of people debate which cars are the best hybrid cars. But the type of hybrid car that best suits you depends on your needs, as well as your budget.
If you drive almost exclusively in city areas, a full hybrid car will be fun to drive. This type of car is not a limitation in terms of charging, as recharging happens automatically when you accelerate or when you brake. Lexus and Toyota both have wide ranges of models for this type of vehicle.
A plug-in hybrid car will be interesting if you need more range. However, the purchase price will be higher and the fuel consumption will be greater when the battery is discharged. At the same time, plug-in hybrids weigh a lot because they have a relatively large battery next to the combustion engine.
If you buy a plug-in hybrid, you must also be prepared to have a charging station set up at your home or find one close by so that you can have a fully charged electric motor every day.
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