Hybrid cars explained: Do you know your mild hybrids from plug-ins?

Are you ready to dive into the fascinating world of hybrid cars? Whether you’re a petrolhead or a green enthusiast, knowing your mild hybrids from plug-ins is essential! Understanding these different hybrid types helps us navigate the evolving automotive landscape and we’re about to dive right into it.

What are the different types of hybrid cars?

There are four different types of hybrid car on the market currently and here’s a brief overview of each and how they differ.

  • Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV)

A Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) is a type of vehicle that combines a petrol or diesel internal combustion engine with a battery-powered electric motor (hybrid vehicle drivetrain).HEVs are a bridge between conventional cars and fully electric vehicles, offering improved efficiency and environmental benefits. They combine the best of both worlds.

According to the AA, most will be able to drive with zero-emissions (electric only), but how far depends on the size of the battery and whether you can plug-in to recharge.

HEVs cannot be plugged in, says AFDC Energy and instead, their batteries are charged through:

  • Regenerative Braking: As mentioned earlier, braking generates electricity.
  • Internal Combustion Engine: When the engine runs, it also charges the battery.

HEVs consume less fuel than traditional vehicles due to their electric assist. The transition between electric and engine power is seamless.

  • Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)

Like a regular hybrid (think Toyota Prius), a PHEV can operate using both its gasoline engine and an electric motor. It blends torque from the engine and the motor to power the same axle.

Most PHEVs can run on electric power alone for short distances—typically 20 to 60 miles—before switching to the gasoline engine, according to Car and Driver.

This dual functionality allows drivers to cover their daily commutes and shopping trips using electricity, while still having the flexibility of a fuel-efficient hybrid for longer journeys, says Green Car.

PHEVs have a rechargeable battery pack that can be plugged into an external electric power source. When fully charged, they can run on electric power for a limited range.

The average driver covers about 37 miles per day, which aligns well with the typical electric range of a PHEV. If you can plug in at home overnight, you’ll get enough electric range to cover most daily needs.

  • Mild-Hybrid Electric (MHEV)

Did you know that mild hybrids are a clever combination of traditional internal combustion engine technology and mild electrification?

Unlike regular hybrids (full hybrids) or plug-in hybrids, MHEVs cannot be driven on electric power alone, says EV Lectron. MHEVs operate similarly to full hybrids, with a battery that recharges during braking. However, the battery in mild hybrids cannot turn the wheels without the engine running, which means the regular internal combustion engine must always be running to turn the wheels, says The Car Expert.

  • Range Extender Electric Vehicle (REX)

An intriguing hybrid, the REX combines electric and combustion engine technologies. Essentially, the REX is primarily an electric vehicle, with an additional feature: a range extender. Unlike traditional hybrids, the range extender in a REEV doesn’t directly drive the wheels. Instead, it serves as a generator to charge the EV’s battery, says Electrifying. Like any EV, the

REX has an electric motor and a battery back. The range extender powers a generator that produces electricity.

When the battery charge is low, the range extender kicks in. The range extender ensures that the vehicle can keep moving even when the battery is depleted.

REXs offer a longer driving range compared to pure EVs so you don’t need to worry about running out of charge. If you blend the benefits of electric driving with the reassurance of a backup generator—a smart solution for those seeking versatility in their eco-friendly rides.

How popular are hybrid cars?

Hybrid cars have gained significant popularity in recent years due to their environmentally friendly features and cost-saving benefits.

Research by JP Morgan predicts that by 2025, hybrid cars will represent 23% of all vehicles sold worldwide, according to Cars Guide.

Hybrid cars are gaining popularity due to their fuel efficiency, reduced emissions, and financial advantages. Whether you’re considering a mild-hybrid, full hybrid, or plug-in hybrid, there’s a growing variety of options to choose from.

When will new hybrid cars be banned from sale?

New petrol and diesel cars will be banned from sale in the UK starting in 2030, as part of the Government’s push toward cleaner electric vehicles. Drivers will still be able to purchase new hybrid cars until 2035, according to This Money. However, only those hybrids that can “drive a significant distance without emitting carbon” will be allowed.

The Government plans to launch a consultation to define which hybrid versions will remain available in showrooms beyond 2030, according to Fleet News. Hybrids serve as a stepping-stone between combustion engine cars and pure electric vehicles with the ban aims to accelerate the transition toward cleaner transportation options.

So while new petrol and diesel cars face a strict ban from 2030, some hybrid models will continue to be available until 2035, subject to specific criteria.

Should you consider a hybrid car?

Considering a hybrid car can be a wise choice, especially if you’re looking for a balance between fuel efficiency, environmental impact, and cost savings. A hybrid can significantly reduce your fuel expenses, they emit fewer greenhouse gases, and contribute to cleaner air and help combat climate change.

With financial benefits, and a smoother driving experience, by choosing a hybrid, you can actively support the transition to cleaner transportation options. It’s a step toward reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.

Remember that the right choice depends on your specific needs, driving habits, and budget. If you prioritize fuel efficiency and eco-friendliness, a hybrid car could be an excellent fit!

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