Alternatives to petrol and diesel driven cars are becoming more popular. Vehicle owners now have the choice of an electric vehicle (EV) or a hybrid vehicle (HEV). The question is, what are the benefits of hybrid vehicles compared with the benefits of electric vehicles and petrol cars?
In this article we look at the benefits of a hybrid vehicle and answer some common questions about hybrids:
How do hybrid cars work?
Hybrid cars combine the technology of electric vehicles (EV) and internal combustion engine vehicles (ICE). That means a hybrid car is powered by a conventional engine, an electric motor and a hybrid battery.
As you drive, your hybrid can switch between being powered by the petrol engine or the electric motor. Or, it may use a combination of both. Which means of propulsion your car uses will usually depend on how you are driving.
When the driver of a hybrid presses their foot down hard on the accelerator or is driving fast, the petrol engine will usually be powering it. However, when it is being driven at a low speed or just coasting, the petrol engine will make way for the electric motor – assuming the battery has charged up.
A real positive of a hybrid is that, if the car stops at lights or is idling for some other reason, the engine shuts off completely.
You can see why hybrids are so fuel-efficient – they need to use the petrol engine only for accelerating or when extra power is required.
How is a hybrid car battery charged?
A hybrid electric vehicle’s battery is not recharged by plugging into power. The battery is charged through regenerative braking and by the internal combustion engine.
What this means is, the petrol engine of a hybrid vehicle functions like a power generator. The battery is recharged through regenerative braking – that’s the process that occurs when the kinetic energy of your moving vehicle is converted back to stored energy each time you apply the brakes.
This means exceptional fuel economy because you are, for much of your driving time, not using any petrol and you don’t use electricity either.
What is a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV)?
You may have heard of plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV). These are very similar to regular hybrids (HEVs) but they are able to be recharged using electricity from an external source such as a household socket – much like an electric vehicle (EV).
Now let’s consider some of the reasons you might consider a hybrid.
Four benefits of a hybrid car compared to a petrol car.
1. Hybrid cars are cheaper to run than petrol cars.
Because an electric motor powers the car for at least part of the time, a hybrid will use less petrol than an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. The electric motor powers the car each time it moves off, the petrol engine doesn’t start working until the car is moving and has some kinetic energy. This means less fuel is required.
2. Hybrid cars are environmentally friendly
A hybrid has low harmful emissions. In fact, when running on the electric battery only, there are virtually no emissions at all. Great for the environment.
3. Hybrids are quiet and smooth driving
Electric motors are almost completely noiseless and thus quieter than a petrol engine. They are also smoother in operation, improving driving and passenger comfort.
4. Stronger performance
For the average-sized vehicle, the addition of an electric motor results in an extra amount of power and torque giving stronger acceleration.
Three benefits of a hybrid car compared to a full electric car?
1. Less expensive
Hybrid cars tend to be less expensive than EVs of the same size and quality.
2. No concern about the battery running out
Because hybrids use their engine to recharge their battery, you don’t have to be worried about finding a charging station or getting home before your battery runs out.
3. No battery recharging
Related to the previous point, because a hybrid needs no external battery recharging, you don’t have to wait around for your car to charge. It’s ready to use whenever you’re ready to go!
Find out more about hybrid vehicle servicing.