Hybrid vehicles are equipped with a combustion engine in addition to an additional electric motor in order to reduce fuel consumption. Hybrid car models offer different features and combine two technologies to benefit from the advantages of each.
The “classic” hybrid car
Standard hybrid cars, also known as full-hybrid cars, are the most popular model of environmentally friendly vehicles, with two engines: a main internal combustion engine and an electric one to move the vehicle at low speeds and assist during acceleration. Fuel consumption is significantly reduced, for example 5L/100 km for a Toyota Yaris hybrid, the use of advanced braking technology offers superior driving comfort (manoeuvring, silence, etc.) and allows the battery under the rear seat to be charged during braking and deceleration phases.
However, the conventional hybrid car comes with a relatively high price compared to a thermal model and requires a higher investment from the buyer since the removal of the ecological bonus. The battery has a low capacity and is characterized by a dead weight, which leads to overconsumption at high speeds and the impossibility of alternating between the use of gasoline or electricity as primary energy.
This model called “plug-in hybrid” or PHEV also has two engines, the driver can select the driving mode and the vehicle can drive at higher speeds in 100% electric mode. The battery capacity is higher compared to a conventional hybrid car and can be recharged by an external source (recharging time between 3 and 4 hours) in addition to recharging by braking. Plug-in vehicles have very low fuel consumption, 1L/100 km can operate in hybrid mode over long distances.
However, the purchase price of this model remains high (e.g. €36,900 for the rechargeable Toyota Prius) and requires more frequent maintenance due to the presence of two high-power engines. The plug-in hybrid also suffers from overconsumption at high speeds, caused by the inactivity of the electric motor.
Mild-hybrid vehicles differ from traditional hybrid cars in that their electric motor is used only to assist the main engine and cannot run exclusively on electric energy. The battery has a lighter capacity but keeps the recharging capacity by braking kinetics and is more efficient depending on the settings.
Mild-hybrid models tend to emit a higher level of carbon than conventional hybrids and the latter can only run on fossil fuels, but they still have a lower production cost compared to conventional hybrid cars.