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What is a Hybrid Vehicle?

By A Yorkshire Bloke

There’s a new kid on the block – The hybrid vehicle. But what is a hybrid? Is this is momentary fad or a fundamental change in the automotive industry? In this blog article we’ll answer all the pressing questions surrounding these new vehicles. 

What is a hybrid?

A hybrid vehicle is one that has both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor for means of propulsion. 

What are the different types of hybrid? 

There are generally three different types of hybrid vehicles however the technology does vary slightly from vehicle to vehicle:

Full Hybrids  

These vehicles can travel independently on their electric motor for short distances. Usually these vehicles use the electric motor only at low speeds. Excellent for improving efficiency with stop/start city driving.

Mild Hybrids 

These vehicles use the electric motor only as an assistance for the internal combustion engine. Mild hybrids are not as efficient as full hybrids but still give you a sufficient fuel saving.

Plug-in Hybrid 

Plug-in’s are charged up from a mains power supply and can travel a fair distance using only the electric motor. Plug-in hybrids are the most environmentally friendly of the three but remember to charge your batteries! The added weight of these can decrease efficiency if the batteries aren’t charged. 

Why are hybrids becoming so common?

There are many reasons why hybrid vehicles are becoming so common. With the government calling a recent state of climate emergency. Reducing carbon emissions is becoming a bigger priority for consumers, and business.

New low emissions zones in London and Birmingham are also on the radar of the automotive manufacturers. Making it more expensive for drivers with ‘dirty’ vehicles to travel in these areas, manufacturers are conscious that this will influence vehicle choice.

New benefit-in-kind (company car) tax rises are also set to effect those with a company car. Employees with high emissions vehicles will be hit the hardest. Clean vehicles will be given a significant tax break.

Rising fuel costs are also pushing consumers towards more efficient vehicles. With fuel costs seemingly getting more expensive day by day, the price of fuel is now a crucial factor when leasing a new vehicle.

Petrol Prices

Which manufacturers are producing these vehicles?

Pretty much all of them! In the last few years there’s been a massive shift towards hybrid. From the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV to the classic Toyota Prius. You can view our hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars. We have them all!

How does the technology work?

Hybrid vehicles are powered by a combination of the internal combustion engine and the electric motor. The battery which powers the electric motor can be charged in three ways:

Directly from the mains 

This method is only used in plug-in hybrids. Using a charging cable the battery is powered up. This can be done at home or using a public charging point.

Directly from the fuel combustion 

Internal combustion engines (ICE) don’t always run at optimum efficiency. By powering the wheels of the vehicle using the ICE via the electric battery and ultimately the electric motor. The internal combustion engine can run at its most efficient point consistently – improving efficiency and mpg.

From regenerative breaking 

When electric motors power a vehicle's wheels in a forward direction this allows the car to move. However, during breaking, the polarity (direction) of the motor is switched. Without getting too technical, this allows the motor to be treated as a generator. As the wheels slow down, this converts the kinetic energy of the moving car into electrical energy to recharge the battery.

Regenerative Breaking

Once the batteries are charged this energy can be used to power the vehicle solely or assist the internal combustion engine, depending on the type of hybrid.

Are hybrids here to stay?

With David Attenborough, Extinction Rebellion and many other environmental movements causing a real stir in todays society. Business, politicians and the average consumer are starting to pay attention. With environmental sustainability being a core part of corporate ethos now and with added penalties for high emissions vehicles creeping in. Hybrid and other emission reducing vehicle technologies are here to stay.