A hybrid car has two modes of propulsion: an internal combustion or diesel engine and an electric motor for power.
Simply explained, a hybrid car uses a petrol engine and at least one electric motor to go forward, and its system recovers energy when braking. Sometimes the electric motor does all of the work, sometimes the petrol engine, and sometimes both. As a result, less petrol is consumed, resulting in improved fuel economy. In rare circumstances, increasing electricity can even boost efficiency.
A high-voltage battery pack (different from the car’s usual 12-volt battery) is used to provide electricity, and it is recharged by capturing kinetic energy that would otherwise be lost owing to heat produced by the brakes in regular cars. (The regenerative braking system is used for this.)
The petrol engine is also used to charge and maintain the battery in hybrids. Car manufacturers employ different hybrid designs to achieve diverse goals, such as improving fuel efficiency and reducing overall vehicle costs. Hybrid vehicles offer significant advantages, including lower fuel consumption and reduced CO2 emissions compared to conventional petrol or diesel cars of similar size and power. These eco-friendly features can lead to benefits like reduced road tax in the first year and more affordable company car tax for hybrid owners. Additionally, there’s a possibility of avoiding congestion charges by opting for a hybrid vehicle.
Types of Hybrid Vehicles
The electric motor(s) and petrol engine are coupled in a shared gearbox that combines the two power sources in this most popular arrangement. It is possible for the gearbox to be an automatic, manual, or continuously variable gearbox (CVT).
This type of hybrid is the most common one, and a well-known example is the Toyota Prius, which is currently the only model of its kind. The car offers three distinct methods to propel its wheels: direct power from the engine, exclusive electric motor drive, or a combination of both power sources.
In the case of the Prius, it relies solely on the electric engine for propulsion during startup and when traveling at speeds of up to 15 mph. This design choice makes it highly efficient for maneuvering through congested city traffic that requires frequent stops and starts. As the car picks up speed, the petrol engine comes into play, delivering notable effectiveness during rapid acceleration.
When you slow down or apply the brakes, a regenerative braking system kicks in, transforming the car’s motion energy into electricity. This electricity is subsequently stored in the battery to be utilized later. Due to the limited capacity of the battery, the electric motor can only propel the car for a distance of around 1.25 kilometers. Toyota utilizes their hybrid powertrain in a range of models, such as C-HR and RAV-4.
Read More: Toyota Hybrid Cars vs Honda Hybrid Cars
Hybrid Cars with Extended Driving Range
There is never a direct mechanical link between the engine and the wheels in this setup; all of the push is produced by the electric motor(s). The petrol engine serves only to charge the battery. As a result, driving seems more electric-like, and acceleration is stronger and smoother.
When the petrol engine starts, there is usually less vibration. The engine, however, can be revving up while the automobile is moving at a constant speed because that engagement does not always take place in unison with what your right foot is doing (remember, the battery is making the demands). Some people find this behavior disturbing. A BMW i3 with a range extender is an illustration of a series hybrid.
Plug-in hybrids, as the name implies, can be charged by plugging them into an electrical outlet or through regenerative charging while driving. They offer a middle ground between traditional hybrids and fully electric vehicles, providing the flexibility of electric driving with the backup of a combustion engine. They possess a conventional engine but boast larger batteries compared to standard hybrids, enabling them to travel longer distances solely on electric power – reaching up to 50 miles in certain scenarios.
Hybrids are also classified as strong or moderate based on the amount of battery power they possess. Strong hybrids with larger battery capacities may travel farther on electric power alone than mild hybrids.
Advantages of a Hybrid Vehicle
Experience the ease of driving a hybrid vehicle, similar to an automatic car with no manual gear shifting required. Enjoy the versatility of power modes in powerful hybrid models, from eco to power, allowing you to optimize efficiency or performance depending on the road ahead. Plus, rest easy knowing that hybrids eliminate concerns of battery depletion, unlike fully electric vehicles. This is because hybrid vehicles always have a combustion engine available when needed. Additionally, parallel hybrids can charge their own batteries while driving, eliminating the need for access to a charging station. However, if you want to make the most of a plug-in hybrid’s electric mode, having a convenient charging station becomes necessary.
When it comes to financial benefits, business vehicle drivers typically pay lower benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax compared to drivers of petrol or diesel vehicles. Additionally, hybrid vehicles emitting less than 75g/km may be exempt from regional clean air zone or low emission zone levies. However, it’s worth noting that while the financial advantages of hybrid ownership are still present, they may not be as significant as they once were.
What Urges You to Buy a Hybrid?
If you’re driving mostly around city areas, opting for a hybrid vehicle would be beneficial since it can maximize its advantage by operating on electric power alone.
On the other hand, if you frequently embark on short trips and don’t necessarily require the versatility offered by a hybrid, an electric car might be a more suitable choice. It allows for emissions-free urban driving and eliminates the need to visit a gas station.
If you frequently cover long distances on highways, it may be more advantageous for you to consider a mild hybrid or an efficient diesel car. These options are likely to provide better fuel efficiency at high speeds compared to a hybrid vehicle. When driving on highways and busy A-roads, your speed is typically higher than what a hybrid car can sustain in pure-electric mode for a significant distance.