Home Automotive Tech What is a Hybrid Electric Car & How Does it Work?

What is a Hybrid Electric Car & How Does it Work?


There is a shift happening in the auto industry with an increasing number of motorists switching to a hybrid or electric car. In fact, a report found that as many as 46% of UK drivers planned to switch to an electric or hybrid as their next vehicle. This is so that they can reduce their environmental impact, but also for financial reasons as you can make big savings by switching to an eco-friendly vehicle.

What is a Hybrid Car?

People tend to know what an electric car is, but what about a hybrid? Hybrid electric cars are powered by both an internal combustion engine and one or more electric motors that use stored energy. Sometimes the electric motor will power the vehicle while other times it will be the combustion engine (and sometimes both). Overall, this greatly reduces the amount of fuel that is used for greater fuel economy and less environmental damage.


There are also two different types of hybrids to be aware of. Full hybrids have no need to plug in and can recover power when the vehicle decelerates. This makes them a good option for those that live in a town environment but they are not too economical on a motorway. A plug-in hybrid needs to be charged up and can usually provide around 30 miles on a single charge, which can make range anxiety less of an issue but you will need to own charging facilities.

How Do They Work?

So, how exactly do hybrid cars work? Essentially, the engine and motor will power the battery pack that can also be recuperated when the car is slowing down or breaking. When there is enough power in the battery pack, the vehicle is able to drive using only electricity – this makes them ideal for shorter distances. Once there is no more electricity to power the vehicle, the internal combustion engine takes over.

Regenerative Braking

One of the key aspects of hybrid vehicles is regenerative braking, which allows the electric motor to self-charge the battery while using the vehicle. This works by the electric motor(s) spinning in reverse when the driver removes their foot from the accelerator or applies the brakes to work as a generator for the battery pack. When the driver applies the breaks, the kinetic energy can provide all or most of the stopping power without the need for using conventional brakes. It is reported that regenerative braking can capture around 70% of the energy to recharge the batteries.

Hybrid cars can be an excellent way for motorists to reduce their environmental impact and save money without going fully electric. It is important to know the different types, though, so that you can find the right kind based on your lifestyle and needs.