What Does it Mean When a Car is a Hybrid?

December 4, 2023

When a car is labeled hybrid, it uses both gas and electric power to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy. However, there’s more to the story than just that, and it can get confusing when trying to understand terms like'mild hybrid', 'plug in hybrid', and 'kilowatt-hours'. This article is designed to help you cut through the jargon and understand what it really means when a car is a hybrid.

The majority of hybrid vehicles use a combination of gasoline and an electric motor to drive the wheels. They are designed to run primarily on the electric motor when driving at lower speeds or sitting idle (known as 'power-split hybrids'). When the battery pack reaches a set level of depletion, or heavy throttle loads require more power, the gasoline engine kicks in to recharge the battery and propel the vehicle. Most hybrids use a front-wheel-drive drive system, with the gasoline engine and electric motor working together to power the wheels via a driveshaft. Examples include the Toyota Prius and Ford Fusion Hybrid.

In addition to reducing fuel consumption during operation, hybrids also produce fewer emissions, particularly at stops, coasting, and idling. They are most efficient in suburban and city traffic, though their fuel efficiency will decline significantly on long highway trips. This makes hybrids a great choice for drivers who want to save money on fuel and do their part for the environment. If you are looking for a more energy-efficient option, check out our full selection of hybrid cars.


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