With the race for sustainable energy and the push for electric vehicles replacing internal combustion engines, hybrid cars are seen as the gateway to the next generation, as they utilize both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor in the same vehicle.

The history of hybrids

Hybrids in vehicles mean that they have two different types of power, usually an internal combustion engine and an electric motor working together to move your vehicle. There are many different configurations that both can be set up to power your vehicle, such as powering them individually or together, and whether in tandem or when one depletes.

Although hybrids have only recently started being mainstream and being offered in more models by different manufacturers, the concept has already existed for a long time and has been explored for various use cases. The benefits of a hybrid is that they are quieter and cleaner, especially when running off the electric motor, and they offer incredible mileage.

How do they work?

The first mass-produced consumer hybrid vehicle was the Toyota Prius that was released in Japan back in 1997, then followed suit by other carmakers such as Honda, Audi and Ford.

Hybrids have the same base as normal combustion cars, but with the addition of an electric generator, electric motor, battery pack, and an electricity converter. These parts of the car can’t be recharged by plugging it in, but it recharges when you slow down your car or brake or by utilizing the combustion engine.

When your car gets the chance to recharge itself, the generator will recharge back the battery pack of your vehicle, which the motor uses to power your vehicle, extra energy that is needed by your car to power the radio and others will then be converted to low voltage to supply the power.

For the Toyota Prius, the hybrid is set up so that the electric motor is in use when the vehicle is cruising under 50km/h, and any faster the job will be handled by the combustion engine to power the vehicle, as that is the limit of the electric motor. This is also known as a parallel hybrid.

For a series hybrid, the electric motor is the main source of power, much like an electric car, but whenever the charge isn’t enough, the combustion engine will kick in to recharge the motor, with examples such as the BMW i3 using this setup.

Any downsides?

A hybrid seems like an economical and environmental option, and it certainly is, but with more complicated components in your car, they need more maintenance than the typical combustion car. And if one of the vital electrical components fail, replacing it will be a hefty sum, especially the battery pack that has an estimated lifespan of 10 years.