What is a Hybrid Car?
A hybrid vehicle is one that combines a traditional internal combustion engine with electric motors to power it.
Some hybrid models have a fully electric range where they only use the electric motor and then switch to the petrol or diesel engine once the battery is depleted and others use hybrid technology to reduce the dependency on the combustion engine throughout different points of the journey.
The government have put in place a ban on the new sale of petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles from 2030. Hybrids are seen as a step towards an EV without some of the range concerns, and so we are seeing more businesses offer these to their drivers so that they can become comfortable with them and then a fully electric model prior to the ban coming into place.
Types of Hybrid Vehicles
There are three main categories of hybrid vehicles in the UK, and these are plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), full hybrids (HEVs) sometimes known as self-charging hybrids, and mild hybrids (MHEVs).
PHEVs are the only type of hybrid vehicle that you will need to plug into a power source to charge the battery which powers the electric motor in them.
The big benefit of plugging them in to recharge is that the vehicle can have a battery with a larger energy storage capacity which gives your car a longer fully electric mileage range.
Most PHEVs have a pure electric mode and then switch to the combustion engine once they reach the end of the electric mileage range, which is usually between 20 and 30 miles.
In order to get the most from your PHEV and the electric range it offers we recommend making sure it is regularly charged to ensure that you use the electric motor to power the vehicle as much as possible.
For convenience, you might choose to have a home charging unit installed, as then your car can be regularly charged with minimal disruption to your usual routine. If you'd like to learn more about home chargers we are a partner of Ohme and are happy to answer any questions you might have.
It is not necessary to have a home charging unit installed, and in fact this can only be done if you have permission, off road parking and suitable existing electric infrastructure. And for a PHEV in particular some drivers might find it easier to take advantage of public charging units and those provided in their business parking facilities.
Unlike a PHEV, a HEV does not require plugging into a power source in order to charge the battery. Instead, the battery in a HEV is charged whilst the vehicle is used, taking power from the combustion engine and through clever systems like regenerative braking to recapture energy that is usually lost.
However, not all models will offer a fully electric range and if they do it will be a lot lower than you can get in a similar PHEV. Some models will also limit the fully electric range to lower speeds and once you hit a certain speed will switch over to the combustion engine.
A MHEV is the third type of hybrid available in the UK and it also does not require charging.
Unlike either a PHEV or HEV, MHEVs will not offer an electric mode. What they do is use mild hybrid technology to give the combustion engine a boost when accelerating heavily or starting from a standing start.
The technology used in them is much easier and cheaper to integrate into a conventional vehicle’s chassis design than other hybrid tech and so is an option many manufacturers are adding to their existing models while they develop HEVs and PHEVs.
One downside to MHEVs is that because they do not have a fully electric mode they don’t qualify for a lot of incentives that have been put in place for hybrid vehicles, like lower BIK rates.
Why You Should Choose a Hybrid
There are a number of reasons that you might decide a hybrid is the right choice for you. The top five of which we think are:
1. They don’t require the larger lifestyle and driving changes a full EV brings
2. They have some of the environmental benefits of EVs, including reduced air pollution, lower emission and in electric mode reduced noise pollution
3. If you have a HEV then you don’t need to worry about charging it
4. You’ll have no range anxiety, as you might with an EV, because once the electric battery is depleted the combustion engine kicks in
5. Lower CO2 means a better company car tax rate for you
For the other great benefits that a hybrid vehicle could offer you then just click here.
Hybrid or EV?
Hybrid vehicles are considered to be a step towards driving a full EV, as they offer a few of the benefits without two of the biggest concerns – charging and mileage range. We’ve seen a lot of corporate drivers opt for a hybrid vehicle and then once they are more familiar with some aspects of EV driving they then decide to go fully electric for their next vehicle.
However, a full EV is currently available with a significantly reduced BIK rate and we have also seen drivers opt to go straight into an EV.
When deciding which is the right option for you there are a number of factors you should consider, including which type of hybrid would be best for you.
The first is how many miles you expect to drive each day, and how many of these you want to be done using the electric battery rather than the combustion engine. If you only have a short commute into the office each day then you’ll likely find the electric range of a PHEV covers most of your daily miles if you charge the vehicle once a day. If you do opt for a PHEV, you will need to consider the time it takes to charge the vehicle and if you decide not to have a home charging unit installed then where you will charge the car.
The main benefit that a hybrid offers you over an EV is that you will not experience the same level of range anxiety, which involves fears of being able to complete your journey on the charge available or find a charger on the route. Once a hybrid’s electric battery runs out of charge the combustion engine takes over and you will switch to using the petrol / diesel in the tank.
You’ll want to bear in mind that you’ll still have the combustion engine and so the company car tax you pay for a hybrid will be higher than that of a similar electric model. As there is a traditional engine you will need to fill up with petrol or diesel, alongside charging if you’re using a PHEV.
Drivers of an EV are eligible to apply for a grant to help with the cost of installing a home charging unit from the government, provided that you meet certain eligibility criteria. You can find out more about this in our guide to charging.