What is a Hybrid Car? – Hybrid Cars Explained

The electric car market is growing at a rapid pace. But it’s not just pure-electric vehicles that are paving the way towards a better, lower carbon future. As of March 2020, there were over 23,000 mild hybrid electric vehicles (MHEV) on UK roads

According to the same study, at last count, hybrid vehicles represent 7% of all vehicle registrations in the UK. This shift away from internal combustion engines has seen the number of new petrol and diesel-powered cars registered dwindle in comparison.

Whether you’re thinking of investing in a hybrid car now or in the future, there’s a lot to love about hybrid vehicles. Here we offer the ultimate guide to hybrid cars and explore why this growing range of nifty, hybrid makes and models are well worth your attention!

Introducing the hybrid vehicle

Hybrid vehicles are no new thing. Contrary to popular belief, hybrids have a long history, with the very first hybrid car created back in 1899 by Ferdinand Porsche. The Austrian-German automotive engineer and founder of the Porsche car company invented the world’s first gasoline-electric vehicle. He pioneered the use of electric motors, which in this early incarnation drove the front two wheels.

Technology has no doubt moved on a lot since Ferdinand’s time. Now hybrid technology is creating some of the most innovatively efficient cars on the market. 

How do hybrids work?

These days a hybrid can be defined by the use of at least one electric motor. This motor is combined with a gasoline engine to make the car move. The hybrid incorporates regenerative braking, which recaptures the energy and uses it again within the system. Hybrid technology is an incredible thing and completely intuitive, with both the gas and electric components able to work in isolation or together. 

The end result is a vehicle that uses less fossil fuels. Hybrids also unlock improved fuel efficiency, and in some cases, better performance. Unlike early hybrid vehicles, electricity is generated via a battery pack, which is powered by the gas engine and by the energy recaptured through regenerative braking.

There are now a number of hybrid technologies used across many hybrid vehicle makes and models, including parallel, series and plug-in systems. The vehicles that use these technologies are categorised as full hybrids. Mild hybrids work a little differently. 

In mild hybrids, electric motors play a smaller part by simply assisting the gas engine. Mild hybrids however are well known for their fuel economy, performance, and use of automatic start-stop technology to ensure further fuel savings.

Should I get a hybrid or an electric vehicle?

The debate between whether to invest in a hybrid or electric vehicle continues. Each vehicle type offers its own pros and cons. 

The popularity of both hybrid and electric vehicles is driven by their reduced emissions. If you are however buying purely for the planet, an electric vehicle is certain to come out on top. Electric vehicles produce zero direct emissions. Hybrids use both fuel and electricity so of course produce the same types of emissions as petrol and diesel cars. They do however emit far less emissions, which is helpful for the planet too!

Are hybrid cars more cost-effective to run?

The cost of hybrid and electric cars is generally much higher than conventional makes and models. After the initial outlay, however, you may be surprised by just how economical hybrids are to run. 

Thanks to their use of fuel and electric, you’ll spend far less at the pump. Hybrid vehicles also provide greater fuel efficiency, using up to 30% less fuel for every mile travelled when compared to petrol or diesel-powered vehicles.

Choosing a plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) could save you even more on fuel. Plug-in models tend to use less fuel than other hybrids, with much of the driving powered solely by electricity. Plug-ins however aren’t great for drivers who regularly take long journeys. PHEVs can use lots of fuel if their batteries have time to run out and their increased weight only makes you use even more gas.

Purchasing a hybrid vehicle in previous years unlocked further money-saving advantages. Before the introduction of new car tax legislation back in 2017, selected hybrids weren’t liable for road tax. Whilst the green grant scheme of 2018 saw a bevvy of money back offers for people who bought brand new hybrids and PHEVs. 

Unfortunately, these incentives are now only available to owners of pure electric vehicles.   

How reliable are hybrid vehicles?

Saving money on vehicle repairs is certain to be on your mind if you’re considering purchasing a hybrid vehicle. Thankfully, with their rise in popularity comes greater maintenance and repair knowledge. That’s if you even need our help though!

Despite their intricate, dual-powered systems, hybrids have been found to have far fewer issues than traditional petrol or diesel models. Whilst reliability can vary from hybrid to hybrid, using a hybrid at slower speeds (as it’s intended – hybrids aren’t great for long distances or continuous motorway use) protects the gas engine from wear and tear. 

A hybrid’s regenerative braking system, which tends to be used less than conventional brakes, also requires less servicing.

Is a hybrid car a good investment?

Hybrids may be more expensive to purchase but with higher resale values, you will find that your new hybrid doesn’t depreciate in value as quickly as traditionally powered petrol or diesel cars. 

Hybrids are more sought after thanks to their reliability and reduced running costs, and courtesy of these perks, hybrid car owners tend to keep hold of their vehicles for the long term. As a result, you’ll find far fewer used hybrid vehicles on the market, which means hybrid sellers can demand a much higher price.

The forthcoming 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars is another factor driving the price of second-hand hybrids through the roof. 

Whilst the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be prohibited from 2030, new hybrids (including mild hybrids, full hybrids and plug-in hybrids) can be sold for five more years, giving those looking to invest in a hybrid more time to buy and those looking to sell a bigger opportunity to capitalise on their used hybrid vehicle. 

Is a hybrid vehicle right for me?

Hybrids are designed with short or low-speed journeys in mind, so if you regularly travel long distances and/or at high speeds, a hybrid car may not be the right choice for you.

If you do most of your driving around town, however, a hybrid car could be the perfect purchase. By running your new hybrid at low speeds for short trips, you’ll be able to run on electricity only and enjoy free, completely fuel-efficient travel. The increased reliability, fuel economy, efficiency and performance are other plus points that will make your driving experience even more satisfying.

Investing in a hybrid car now will also safeguard you for the future. As we mentioned, you’ll have five extra years to upgrade your hybrid vehicle after the 2030 new petrol and diesel vehicle ban, and with more people wanting to purchase hybrids second-hand, you could even enjoy a more attractive resale value. It really is a win-win!

For more information on purchasing, running and maintaining a hybrid vehicle, talk to an expert today.