How Hybrid Cars Work

Hybrid fuel economy

Though hybrid cars have been on the market in the United States for about 15 years, there still seems to be a general confusion about the way they work. We all know that hybrids are good for the environment because they release less harmful emissions into the environment, there are often tax incentives for buying them, and that they get great fuel economy. What many people don’t know is how they actually work.

Put simply, hybrid cars are called such because they run from two different power sources, and this is why hybrid fuel economy is so good. One of these power sources is regular fuel that drivers buy at the pump — though generally hybrids run from regular gasoline some European models use diesel. The second power source is the hybrid battery, and they keep their charge in a few different ways.

  • Plug-In:
  • One way that hybrid batteries keep their charge is by getting plugged into an electrical outlet. When the battery needs charging, the owner simply plugs the car in. Batteries in hybrid cars that need to be plugged in are usually to large to be able to hold a charge on their own.

  • Regenerative Braking:
  • Regenerative braking is a little more complicated. When the driver applies the brakes in this type of car, a bit of the energy produced by the battery actually goes back into it.

  • Full Hybrid:
  • Full hybrid cars get the best fuel economy of all types of hybrid cars. Basically, this is because the engine — the electric and gas components — can function in a number of different ways: series mode, parallel mode, or full electric mode.

Do you have any questions about hybrid batteries or the way they work? Feel free to let us know in the comments.

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