Hybrid cars are still the minority with only 2.4% of the vehicles in the US running on electric or battery power instead of fuel. But with this new breed of car slowly making its way onto car lots it is about time you learn what these cars are about.
So how does a hybrid car work? There are a few different kinds of hybrid cars, and they all work a little differently.
We are going to go over the types of hybrid cars and how differently each of them operate.
What Is a Hybrid Car?
Hybrid cars use a combination of fuel and electricity to power your vehicle. There is both an electric and gasoline motor to move the vehicle.
Types of Hybrid Cars
There are four different types of hybrid cars on the market today. Each one uses a different combination of power and propulsion systems to move your vehicle.
Parallel Hybrid Cars
This is the most common type of hybrid car on the market today. They have an electric motor and gasoline engine that work parallel to each other to propel your vehicle forward. A Toyota Prius is an excellent example of this type of car.
There are three ways that these cars move:
- Both the electric and gasoline engine work at the same time to drive the vehicle
- In certain situations only the electric engine powers the car
- In other situations, only the gasoline motor moves the car.
Mild, Micro, or Light Hybrid Cars
These hybrids are between the previous type of hybrid and a full battery-powered car. There is typically a battery that will boost the functioning of the gasoline engine.
These cars won’t give you high fuel efficiency and savings that you can get with other hybrid vehicles. But it can give you a boost in mpg range. Many vehicles on the road today have some form of battery boost system.
The batteries that you find in hybrid cars are powerful with large energy cells. Batteries that boost your car’s performance are different than these batteries that come standard in every vehicle on the road. You can improve any car’s performance by only buying a high-quality battery to power your car.
An example of a vehicle that uses this type of technology is the new 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE.
Plug-In or PHEV Hybrid Cars
Some hybrid vehicles use electric power to charge and power the vehicle. These cars will typically have an electric and gasoline engine.
The car will use electric power on quick short drives that don’t require a lot of power. Then on longer drives, it will have the gasoline engine kick in to take over.
Plug-in hybrids you might be familiar with are the Kia Niro or the Chevrolet Volt.
Series or Range Hybrid Cars
These cars use a gasoline engine that will recharge the internal battery pack. Then the car uses the electric motor when you drive your vehicle. The electric motor is what provides power to the wheels to cause them to move.
The gasoline engine doesn’t propel the vehicle forward. It only recharges your battery so that the car can move a little bit further down the road. To fully recharge the car you’ll need to plug it in.
An example of this type of vehicle is the BMW i3. You might hear it referred to as a “range extender gasoline engine”.
How Does a Hybrid Car Work?
A sophisticated computer system controls the primary functioning of the car. How this system is set up and how it works will vary from one car manufacturer to another. There are some general principles that they all follow, though.
The electric motor will power the vehicle when accelerating from a stop or rolling at slow speeds. If there is a gasoline engine to take over, then that won’t happen until you reach 35 to 40 miles per hour.
Once you are cruising at a steady high speed, the gasoline engine takes over to power the vehicle. It will also recharge the batteries during this time.
The car will switch over to battery power when you take your foot off the gas to brake or coast. This is because you don’t need the power of the gasoline engine during these actions. Some manufacturers will use this time to recharge your battery.
If you are heavy on the gas pedal, then a hybrid might not be the car for you. Any time you try to accelerate fast or stomp on the gas, then the car will use the gasoline engine. This is because the gasoline engine will give you the power you need to accelerate quickly.
Transmission and Drive
You will find hybrid cars that are both front and rear-wheel drive. There are even all-wheel-drive hybrid cars.
When it comes to transmission, almost all hybrids have a continuously variable transmission. These transmissions don’t shift like a traditional transmission. They change continually through the complete range of power.
If you look at luxury hybrid models, you may find one with a traditional automatic transmission.
Consider a Hybrid for Your Next Car
You should no longer be wondering, how does a hybrid car work? It’s clear that there is more to the hybrid market than just one type of car. In an effort to innovate, manufacturers offer different methods of propulsion.
Even though you’ll find different variations of hybrids, they all operate with the same general principles. They strategically use the gasoline and electric engine to optimize the performance of your car.
Check out our other articles for everything you need to know about cars.