What is a hybrid car?
Hybrid simply means something that combines two different elements. When it comes to cars, the term can be confusing as there are several types of hybrid cars available but – in most cases – hybrids are vehicles fuelled by combination of electricity and conventional petrol or diesel.
What you need to know before owning a hybrid car:
Hybrid cars emit less CO2 than a car that’s wholly powered by petrol or diesel, meaning they are better for the environment. While different models are more environmentally friendly than others, the more people that switch to hybrid cars, the more urban pollution should reduce, and public health improve.
The different types of hybrid cars
There are three main types of hybrid car:
The full hybrid
The full or parallel hybrid is powered by a combustion engine and an electric motor. When they’re running on electric-only mode, they can usually only operate at lower speeds for limited distances. While this means you’ll probably have to use petrol or diesel for motorway driving, you will be able to go electric for short trips in the city. But, as the electricity you use is powered by the fuel burned in the engine, using the hybrid system can be greener than switching to purely electric mode.
The plug-in hybrid (PHEV)
Plug-in hybrids are more like fully electric vehicles in that they have a large battery that you can charge from an external power supply. They typically have an electric-only range of around 30 miles, which is more than enough for the daily school run or a trip to the supermarket and back.
The mild hybrid
Mild hybrid cars have both an electric motor and combustion engine but, unlike a full hybrid, neither power source can work independently. The engine is usually assisted by the electric motor, although you’ll also be able to recover energy through braking, via a belt alternator starter.
Advantages of owning a hybrid car
Save money on fuel
According to the RAC, hybrids can use up to 30% less fuel than cars powered by combustion engines so if you could save on fuel costs, especially if you mainly use your car for short journeys.
Take advantage of government incentives
To help encourage the switch to electric and hybrid vehicles, the Government offers plenty of financial incentives ranging from buying discounts to reduced parking costs. Many plug-in hybrid cars are also eligible for government grants of up to £2,500.
Enjoy more versatility
Until EV technology and infrastructure allows for quicker and more accessible charging, hybrids can be more versatile than fully electric cars. With an internal combustion engine, you can easily refuel at a station, whereas finding an EV charging point can be challenging in some areas of the UK.
While there aren’t as many tax advantages to owning a hybrid car as there were in the past, new hybrids purchased at £40,000 pay a flat rate of £135 tax after the first year - £10 less than petrol or diesel cars. They can also have a higher resale value due to lower depreciation costs.
Disadvantages of owning a hybrid car
While you can save on running costs, hybrids are still typically more expensive to buy than petrol or diesel cars. They also tend to have less power and – as they’re relatively new to the car industry – you might find it harder to find a knowledgeable mechanic to fix any repairs if something goes wrong.
Even so, with their eco credentials, fuel cost savings and high resale value, the advantages of owning a hybrid car often outweigh any potential disadvantages.