A hybrid powertrain may be a complex system to engineer, but owning and operating a hybrid car is straightforward. The vehicle increases its power whilst reducing fuel consumption and emissions by coupling an electric motor with a petrol or diesel engine. By switching between both power sources and using recycled energy, the mechanism can achieve an unprecedented combination of high performance and low running costs.
Two types of hybrid cars are available: the conventional hybrid and the plug-in hybrid.
A conventional hybrid car can use both power sources together or independently to maximise fuel economy. The unit relies on electric power to drive the car at low speeds, and only combines this with the combustion engine during hard acceleration. Energy that is generated between these stages is recycled and used to recharge the battery which powers the motor.
A plug-in hybrid carries a higher capacity battery which can power the car for longer in hybrid mode. Energy is still recycled on the move to recharge the battery, but you can also plug it in to an electrical outlet. This system is often the best choice for motorists that travel short distances and can recharge the battery at home.