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What Is A Hybrid Car & How Does A Hybrid Car Work? FAQs

If you are new to the hybrid car market, then doubtless you will be asking "should I buy a hybrid car?"  Here we address the most commonly asked queries about how a hybrid car works, and the pros and cons of buying one.

Hybrid Car Charging FAQs

What does hybrid electric mean?

It means that the power in the car comes from a hybrid of petrol and electric sources. Petrol to power the internal combustion engine; electric from a traction battery which powers separately from the normal starter battery.

What's the difference between electric and hybrid cars? - Is a hybrid car an electric car?

Electric cars are powered solely by electric batteries. Hybrid cars can use electric power, coupled with petrol or diesel power. So a hybrid car is only a partially electric car.

How do you charge a hybrid car?

In most cases, the traditional internal combustion engine drives a generator which recharges the traction battery while you drive. Energy is also captured when slowing down and is known as regenerative braking. You may hear the term self-charging hybrid to describe this.

A plug-in hybrid, or PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) takes this one stage further as it can be physically plugged in to an electricity supply to recharge. This could be through a standard 3-pin socket with special cable or via a home or work charging point, such as Pod Point. The speed of hybrid car charging varies according to the power rating of the method used. A PHEV has a larger battery than a self-charging one. The internal combustion engine and electric motor work together to provide the most efficient power options.

Where can I charge my hybrid car?

There are several options now available, with more being added as the popularity of hybrid and fully electric cars increases - 35,000 public charging points in the UK to be exact! Not only at home with off-street parking charging wallboxes, but with on-street parking in some local authority residential areas. Larger workplaces are now installing charging facilities for staff and customers and public car parks also have spaces allocated for hybrid and electric recharging. Supermarkets and other establishments and attractions around the country are providing plug-in charging equipment. The speed of charging and cost may vary, but you can check your nearest charge point by browsing https://www.zap-map.com/live.

How much do home charging points cost?

Home charging points are supplied by third parties such as Pod Point or BP Chargemaster​Government grants are available to help with purchase and installation costs, both for home and work.  Look out for offers on new cars and new car finance as, often, wallboxes and charging cables are included free of charge as part of the offer.

How long does it take to charge a hybrid car?

How long it takes to recharge your hybrid car depends on the size of your battery, how much energy has been used and the power output of the charging point. There are generally 4 levels of charge, measured in kilowatts. Slow (up to 3kW); Fast (7 - 22 kW); Rapid (25 - 99 kW) and Ultra-Rapid (100 - 350 kW).
The faster the charger, usually the more expensive. Slow charging takes about 5 hours, whilst rapid charging can take as little as 25 minutes. Ultra-rapid charging is not needed by hybrid cars as their batteries are smaller than fully electric vehicles.

Kia XCeed Plug-In Hybrid

Getting a charge point at home

This needs to be done by a certified professional. Off-street parking in the form of a garage, car port or exterior wall is needed. Our dealerships can help with booking this for you.

How long do hybrid batteries last?

Hybrid traction batteries are designed to last the lifetime of the vehicle. They are not like normal car batteries that just operate the starter for the combustion engine. Traction batteries supply energy to the motors which drive the wheels. A well-maintained hybrid vehicle's battery should last many years and the manufacturer covers the battery by a comprehensive warranty for a certain number of years and miles. View our range of hybrid vehicles by manufacturer here.

I'm worried I will run out of charge and stop!​

This is a common fear.  However, hybrids will run on their petrol or diesel engines even if the battery is depleted.  The battery is unlikely to lose all charge as it is automatically recharged by the engine or regenerative braking.  However, you must remember to keep fuel topped up!  Hybrids cannot run without fuel.  A plug-in hybrid can run on electricity only and, if fully charged, can go for about 20 to 40 miles, depending on the model and driving style.​

Is a hybrid car slower than a conventional car?

No, performance of a hybrid car is generally about the same as an equivalent conventionally powered car.  In fact, acceleration can sometimes be smoother.  For example, the new Honda Jazz Hybrid can accelerate from 0-62 mph in 9.4 seconds and has a top speed of 108mph.  ​

Honda Jazz Hybrid Crosstar

What are the pros and cons of hybrid cars?

Hybrid cars can save you money on fuel costs due to the greater efficiency of the engine and electric motor working together. The road tax tends to be lower than conventional cars and, for business drivers, the BIK tax is generally of a lower band.

Servicing is much the same as normal, but there's less wear and tear on a hybrid's engine as the electric motor takes over at lower speeds. The brakes tend to last longer too as the regenerative braking helps slow the car down too. Our Technicians are well experienced in servicing of hybrid vehicles.

Replacing the traction battery can be expensive if it is out of warranty - maybe £2,000 - but most warranties are around 8 years and the price of batteries is reducing as hybrid and electric cars become more popular.

Hybrid cars can be heavier than conventionally fuelled vehicles so make sure your tyres are rated for the weight.

Some hybrids and most electrics are eligible for government grants to help with initial purchase and charging point installation. Keep up to date with the latest news on this here.

Lastly, if you have any questions then always feel free to ask us!
Our sales and service teams are experts in hybrid and electric driving. Just contact the branch nearest to you and our staff will be happy to help.