• April 4, 2023

  • Abby Nuttall

Are you thinking of taking a step into electric vehicles (EVs) with your next company car? If so you might not be ready for a fully electric model but be thinking instead about going for a hybrid model. What you might not know until you start looking is that there’s several different types of hybrid cars available. To help you choose the right option for you we’ve put together this article which explores the different types of hybrid, and the pros and cons of each.

If you’d like to learn more about fully electric cars then we do have a dedicated guide section that will cover all the essential info for you.

What Different Kinds of Hybrid Car are There?

In the UK there are currently three categories of hybrid cars:

  • Cars that use mild hybrid technology (also known as mild hybrids)
  • Self-charging hybrids (also known as hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) or full hybrids)
  • Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs)

Below, we’ll break down how each of these works, what factors you need to consider when deciding if a particular type of hybrid will suit you and the benefits they can bring.

Benefits of Driving a Hybrid

Before we break down the different types of hybrids we wanted to highlight some of the common benefits that you’ll get from driving one.

Firstly, hybrid cars help improve your fuel efficiency, with the electric system helping you go further on a tank of fuel which in turn helps save you money as you’ll fill up less frequently. Additionally, they emit fewer pollutants which are better for your carbon footprint and the air quality in the areas you are driving.

One of the main attractions of a hybrid is that whilst it does contain electric components it is not fully electric which means the two main concerns of driving an EV – range and charging aren’t as large an issue.

Mild Hybrid Cars

A mild hybrid isn’t a hybrid in the way that most drivers expect it to be as there are not two independent systems that power the vehicle separately. Instead a mild hybrid has a small hybrid system that works to support the internal combustion engine (ICE), the petrol or diesel engine, at critical moments of the journey. Typically, mild hybrids are designed to give you a little extra umph when starting from a stopped position or accelerating whilst driving.

Additionally, a lot of mild hybrids will use regenerative braking to recapture energy that would have been lost with a traditional ICE. One thing to note with regenerative braking is that if you are a late or heavy braker then you will need to adjust your braking style to utilise the regenerative function.

You will see the term mild hybrid appearing more and more when looking at new cars, and this is because it’s a cheap and easy to install as it requires little change to the existing model design and infrastructure.

As it’s relatively cheap and easy for manufacturers to install a mild hybrid system in their existing models, cars with mild hybrid technology are typically the cheapest kind of hybrids to buy or lease.

Mild hybrids are the most similar type of hybrid to a petrol or diesel vehicle, this means that you’ll need to make minimal adjustments to your driving style and habits making it the easiest type of hybrid for you to jump into. You also won’t have any concerns about charging or making the electric range last, as there is no electric only mileage.

Whilst a mild hybrid will give you better fuel economy and reduced emissions they will have the minimal effect when compared to the other kinds of hybrids available. And for company car drivers, as there’s no electric only range, you won’t see as much of a difference in the BIK rate compared as you might expect from a hybrid.

Self-Charging Hybrid Cars

A self-charging hybrid is exactly what it sounds like – a hybrid car that charges itself. Instead, it recharges the electric battery with the ICE system when it’s running and with the energy recaptured in regenerative braking.

Again, there may be some changes that you need to make to utilise the hybrid system fully. Additionally, nearly every full hybrid will be an automatic as there are no gears in an electric motor system.

Self-charging hybrids will usually have an electric only range and some will let you use this fully before switching to the ICE. Others will only use the electric system when travelling at low speeds then switch over to the ICE to maximise the electric range. As they will usually have an electric powered range you will notice a marked difference in the BIK rate for them compared to the rates on a petrol or diesel model.

The largest benefit of driving a self-charging hybrid is that you do not have to charge it. This means that you will not have to make any lifestyle adjustments to ensure the vehicle is regularly charged. However, it also means that the battery is smaller, which means a smaller electric powered range, as space is also needed for the recharge system.

Plug-In Hybrid Cars

The final type of hybrid available in the UK is PHEVs, these are hybrids that you need to plug into an external charger to charge the electric system.

If you are looking for a hybrid with a larger electric range, then it will be a PHEV you want. As they do not need to include the technology needed to recharge the battery internally there is more space in a PHEV for a larger battery which will give you more miles.

In order to make the most of a PHEV you will need to charge it regularly. This will be the biggest adjustment in driving a hybrid as it requires you to either invest in a home charger unit, if you are able to have one safely installed, or to alter your parking habits to use public chargers.

Although a PHEV will be the type of hybrid which requires the most notable change going from an ICE to a hybrid it does mean that when the time comes for you to go from a hybrid to an EV then the change will be less noticeable. This is not only in terms of charging the vehicle but having a driving style that suits the electric system as well.

What is the Best Type of Hybrid for Me?

Only you can decide what hybrid is best suited for you as you know your driving habits and whether you can accommodate the changes needed for different types of hybrids.

However, we’ve got five questions that you should ask yourself and the answers to these will help you decide on the right hybrid for you.

1. What is my current style of driving, and what will I be required to change in order to utilise features like regenerative braking?

2. Will I find it difficult to adjust to an automatic transmission?

3. Will this be a company car? If yes is a low BIK rate an important factor in choosing the car for you?

4. Do you have the capacity (financially and time-wise) to charge an electric vehicle?

5. What is available from your preferred brand / model?

We hope that in answering these questions you’ve been able to decide on the right type of hybrid for you or at least which ones you’d find suitable.


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