What is a hybrid car?


Valuable information about hybrid vehicles and their purpose.

Advantages and disadvantages of hybrid cars.


In 2000, Toyota launched the first mass-produced hybrid car with the Toyota Prius. Now, 20 years later, many other reputable manufacturers have followed suit.

Woman holding car keys while charging up her blue hybrid vehicle

Hybrid cars are semi-electric vehicles, this means they are operated by a conventional petrol or diesel engine combined with an electric motor. Most hybrid cars use a petrol engine over a diesel one.

In more common hybrids, the electric motor is used to power them during low speeds such as city cruising. Whereas high-speed journeys, for instance using the motorway, can be powered by the internal combustion engine (ICE).


However, there are many manufactures, models, and types of hybrid cars which all have different ways of operating.


Although these vehicles don’t solely rely on electricity to function, they still have many environmental benefits due to less fuel consumption and less CO2 emissions.

Check the history of a hybrid

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Hybrid cars, plug-in hybrids and electric cars are all paving the way to eco-friendlier roads. The environmental benefits are great, so you may be thinking should I buy a hybrid car?


To help you decide what and if a hybrid car is right for you, below is a guide of frequently asked questions regarding sustainable vehicles:

Close up picture of a hybrid car

What types of hybrid cars are there?


There are three common types of hybrid cars and each one works differently to produce a more efficient way of driving.


Parallel hybrid:


This is the most common type of hybrid car and has multiple ways of running. The internal combustion engine and electric motor can be combined to power the vehicle, but it can also be powered solely from the electric motor, or the ICE alone.

The multiple sources of power are used to boost efficiency for different driving environments, such as long journeys or city driving.


Plug-in hybrid:


Plug-in hybrids are thriving in the electric motor market and are found in newer models such as Toyota Prius Plug-in, Volkswagen Passat GTE, and Hyundai IONIQ Plug-in Hybrid – to name a few.

This type of eco-friendly car is pretty self-explanatory, they can be plugged in to recharge the electric battery.


Range extender hybrid:


These cars are only powered by their electric motor, rather than the conventional engine. The conventional engine is only used to recharge the electric motor. The ultimate goal for a range extender is to extend the range in which the car can travel, while keeping emissions low and eco-friendly.

A great example of a sustainable range extender hybrid is the BMW i3, which is made from sustainable engineering and recycled materials. It can also travel up to 188 miles on a single charge.


Describe the difference between mild hybrid vs full hybrid?


Mild hybrid cars can only use the electric motor to aid the engine (for instance when accelerating), they are not capable of powering the vehicle solely with the electric motor.

Whereas, full hybrids can switch between the internal combustion engine and the electric motor to power the vehicle.


What is the difference between hybrid and electric cars?


The main difference between a hybrid and full-electric car is that electric cars don’t use a diesel or petrol engine to boost the power performance of the car. Electric cars rely solely on electricity to run, making it a completely zero-emission vehicle.

Electric cars make a great sustainable alternative when driving shorter distances because they won’t need to be charged as much. However, a hybrid car can be much more adaptable for longer journeys and daily use as they are still eco-friendly but offer you a bit more range when driving.


Advantages and disadvantages of hybrid cars:


Benefits can vary between models and manufacturers. However, the main benefit of owning a hybrid car, is that it is more sustainable for the environment. They don’t produce as many CO2 emissions as standard cars where the ICE is the main power supply.


Other advantages include:

  • No need to worry about ‘range anxiety’. If you are driving longer distances and the battery becomes low, then the car will switch to petrol, so you can continue your journey without needing to charge it up.


  • Multiple drive modes. 


  • Some hybrids allow you to drive solely in electric mode which produces zero emissions – this is even better for the environment. 


  • You can save money on fuel, especially if you travel shorter distances more often. This is because hybrid cars use less fuel than conventional cars due to the electric motor. 


  • Regenerative braking system, this enables the battery to recharge a little each time the breaks are used. 


Although there are many advantages to having a hybrid vehicle it is always important to consider any negatives that may come with your purchase.


Disadvantages include:

  • They aren’t as environmentally friendly as full-electric cars. However, some models/types of hybrids are more eco-friendly than others. 


  • You may not be able to travel as far without needing to plug-in or switch to the combustion engine. 


  • The electric batteries for hybrids are quite heavy and can make the car feel less agile compared to other models. 


  • If you drive long distances regularly, you may not be able to save much money, as you would have to use petrol or diesel more often.


Deciding whether a hybrid car is right for you largely depends on how you will be using your new car. If your main priority is getting to and from work, or driving through the city, then a hybrid car can be a solid and sustainable purchase.

Whereas if you regularly drive long distances, then you may need to consider alternative vehicles or research more into specific types of hybrid cars.

With relatively low running costs and many reliable manufactures creating new hybrid models, hybrids are certainly a popular choice for many individuals searching for a new car.

Alicia Paginton

Alicia Paginton

Content Writer

Alicia Paginton is a freelance writer for CarVeto. Her writing experience spans across multiple subject matters, although she specialises in the sustainability sector (sustainable consumer habits, fashion and lifestyle).

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