The benefits of driving a hybrid car
Hybrid cars are becoming an even more popular choice on UK roads. But do you know the difference between a parallel hybrid and a plug-in hybrid? We’ve collected together some highlights on what they are, how they run and how to charge them, to help get you started if you’re thinking of buying a new hybrid.
A hybrid car typically combines an electric motor with a conventional engine (usually petrol or diesel). The two work together to power the car making them more environmentally friendly than traditional fuel-powered cars, as they consume less fuel and emit less CO2.
Hybrid vehicles are becoming more and more popular in the UK as we head towards becoming more environmentally friendly. The shift towards greener vehicles has also been spurred on by the government’s 2020 announcement that the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned from 2030.
The number of hybrid and other ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) on the road rose to around 269,000 in 2019 according to the Department for Transport annual Vehicle Licensing Statistics. And in 2020 there were over 350,000 new hybrid cars registered in the UK. While car sales dropped, electric and hybrid registrations increased across the board with plug-in hybrids increasing by 91.2%.
What's the difference between hybrid and electric cars?
The main difference between a hybrid car and an electric car is that while electric cars are fully powered by electricity, hybrids combine an electric motor with a conventional fuel engine. This means that an electric car is a completely non-polluting ultra-low emission vehicle, while hybrids still produce some emissions.
Electric cars have to be plugged in in order to recharge their batteries, whereas most hybrid cars recharge their batteries as they drive, using energy produced by the fuel engine during braking.
How do hybrid cars work?
What differences are there between hybrid engines? Each contains an electric motor and a fuel engine, and each works in a different way:
1. Full hybrids
Full hybrid is the term used to describe a car where the wheels can be powered by the engine, the electric motor, or with both power sources working together. Full hybrid cars (also known as parallel hybrid cars) use the electric motor at low speeds and the fuel engine at higher speeds and when the electric charge is low. These hybrid cars do not need to be plugged in as the battery is charged by the fuel engine when it’s low.
2. Mild hybrids
Mild hybrid cars have an electric motor and larger battery in addition to the gas engine. These power the electrical systems in your car leaving the engine to use more of its energy while actually driving. Mild hybrid cars can’t drive using the electric motor, however some can boost the power when accelerating. This type of hybrid car does not need to be plugged in to charge, the battery is charged when the car coasts or brakes.
3. Plug-in hybrids
Plug-in hybrid cars have a larger battery that can be charged at home through household sockets or at one of the thousands of free charging stations around the UK. The larger batteries can drive further on the electric engine alone before the fuel engine engages to help power the car.
The benefits of hybrid cars
So, what are the benefits of hybrid vehicles compared to conventional fuel vehicles?
They're more environmentally friendly
One of the biggest advantages of hybrid cars is that they have lower fuel consumption than a conventional car, meaning fewer emissions. This makes them greener, cleaner and better for the environment when driven efficiently.
They're cheaper to run
According to a Which? Independent test, petrol-hybrid cars get an average of 53.2 miles per gallon, coming out ahead of petrol (41.9mpg) and diesel (46.8mpg) cars. The annual Which? car survey also revealed that hybrid owners had fewer faults and breakdowns, as well as those faults being less severe than faults on petrol and diesel cars. So not only should you be spending less on fuel, but hopefully less at the garage too.
They recharge as you drive
A conventional hybrid has regenerative braking, which means the battery recharges as you drive. This means that you don’t have to worry about stopping to charge it up on longer journeys - which you could have to do with an electric car.
They offer some tax benefits
Alternative fuel cars, including hybrid cars, are cheaper to tax than conventional cars with petrol and diesel engines.
How do you charge plug-in hybrid cars?
There are a few ways to charge a hybrid or electric car:
Charging your car at home
While you can charge a hybrid car through your domestic sockets, the best option is to get an electric vehicle charger installed. These offer a faster charge and are weatherproof.
Charging your car at work
Many firms have taken up the Government Workplace Charging Scheme and have installed dedicated parking at their buildings for charging hybrid and electric vehicles.
Charging your car on the road
Public charging points are appearing in more places across the UK. They can be found in some public car parks, as well as some shopping areas, petrol stations and motorway services.
Through a grant scheme from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and Office for Zero-Emission Vehicles, some vehicles may entitle you to funding towards an electric vehicle charge point at your home. Visit the Government website for further details.
Whether you’re making the switch to being greener or you’re still weighing up your options, ensure you have the right level of car insurance to cover you should the worst happen. Planning on getting a hybrid as a second car? Save money on both premiums (excluding Optional Extras) with our esure Multicar Insurance.
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