Hybrid Cars Explained
Learn all about the benefits of hybrid cars and how they work with this all-encompassing guide
A hybrid car combines the power of an electric motor and a combustion engine. You'll typically find petrol and electric power combinations. However, some diesel hybrids are available.
This set-up gives you the best of both worlds – the power of a traditional engine and the efficiency and eco-credentials of an electric motor. There are also tax benefits and lower fuel costs.
If you're considering the transition to a hybrid car, the option has many benefits. Check out our guide on hybrid vehicles to see whether it's right for you.
How Do Hybrid Cars Work?
There are three main types of hybrid cars, and each has slight differences in how they work.
Full, self-charging or parallel hybrids
These hybrid models use the combustion engine and electric motor to power the car. The two work simultaneously or independently. Full hybrids can hold a small charge, which is typically used to enhance power for the engine.
At slower speeds, a fully hybrid vehicle can switch to electric-only as the motor is built into the drivetrain. However, the batteries are generally small, so this only happens over short distances or at low speeds.
If there is no electric battery power, fuel takes over to run the car. As a result, full or parallel hybrids are the most common hybrid vehicle.
Mild hybrid cars
This hybrid model functions similarly to a full hybrid. However, the electric motor solely enhances the engine power. The electric motor and engine can't be used independently of each other. Energy is regained through braking and this feeds into the batteries. This stored energy is then used for smoother stop/start functions and coasting.
Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs)
The plug-in hybrid model is a closer alternative to a fully electric car. As the name suggests, you can plug these models in to charge the on-board batteries. This option improves range. Technically, if you charge up overnight and only use the range (around 30 miles) the next day, heading to the petrol station becomes less frequent.
To make the most of this hybrid option, regular charges are advisable. If PHEVs rely solely on fuel rather than their electric batteries, fuel efficiency lowers.
Do Hybrid Cars Need To Be Charged?
Full and mild hybrids don't need to be charged. These models carry rechargeable batteries powered through regenerative braking. However, if you have a plug-in hybrid, you can charge the battery using an EV cable at home or a local charging point. To get the best fuel economy from a PHEV, it needs to be charged regularly.
What is The Range of a Hybrid Car?
The range of hybrid vehicles varies depending on the model. Average ranges vary between 20-50 miles before the conventional fuel engine kicks in. For example, in 2021, the Hyundai Ioniq and Peugeot 3008 PHEVs were named one of the best plug-in hybrids for electric range – with an average electric-only range of 32 and 40 miles, respectively.
The Advantages of a Hybrid Car
- Cheaper running costs – For shorter journeys, a hybrid will mainly use electric power and typically have a range of between 20-50 miles (depending on the model). This lowers the cost of fuelling up regularly.
- Road tax savings – You still have to pay road tax on hybrid vehicles. However, there is a lower rate due to lower emissions. Check out the gov.uk for information on vehicle tax rates for hybrid vehicles.
- Better for the environment – Hybrid cars emit fewer emissions than petrol and diesel cars, making them a better option for the planet.
- No range anxiety – Unlike a fully electric vehicle, you can still rely on petrol or diesel for longer journeys.
- Affordable to lease – While hybrids are more expensive to buy outright, leasing can make the vehicle more affordable.
- No charge required – Unless you have a plug-in hybrid, there's no need to worry about charging. The regenerative energy system recharges as you drive.
The Disadvantages of a Hybrid Car
- Less power and performance – The engine is smaller than a typical petrol/diesel car, which can affect overall performance.
- Not as eco-friendly as all-electric cars – Hybrids still produce emissions when you switch to the combustion engine for power.
- Suited to shorter journeys and city driving – These models are typically better in city or town environments for better fuel economy.
- Plug-in hybrids can be less fuel-efficient – Hybrids are heavier than the equivalent petrol/diesel car. In addition, if you rely on the combustion engine over the electric range, fuel economy reduces.
Are Hybrid Cars Worth Leasing?
Yes! Hybrid vehicles are a great option for anyone looking to take advantage of the many benefits these models offer.
You can choose from fully hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars from top manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, Vauxhall and Nissan.
Hybrid vehicles are available at an affordable fixed monthly cost, and all-in-all offer cheaper running costs compared to most petrol/diesel models.
Most Popular Hybrid Cars 2022
Vehicle technology has come a long way since the first hybrid cars were introduced. Check out some of the top options in 2022, ideal for various budgets and driving needs.
As one of the country's most popular compact cars, it's no surprise the latest hybrid model is a big hit. The GR Yaris is a compact powerhouse of petrol-electric technology with 114bhp. This model is ideal for city and town driving. Best of all, Toyota says it is possible this car can be driven in electric mode for around 80% of the time on urban drives.
Following on from its popular first small SUV model, the second generation Captur is longer, wider and ideal for family driving. Unfortunately, the hybrid option is only available in the higher-end S Edition and R.S. Line trims. However, its purely electric range is around 30 miles, so you can pop to the shops and whip around town for a cheaper and more eco-friendly ride.
BMW X5 45e
If you're looking for comfort paired with impressive hybrid technology, the X5 45e plug-in is a great choice. The electric motor will give you around 54 miles of pure electric driving. Plus, alongside this is a 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine with 389bhp. Despite its size, it packs great performance with 0-62 mph in 5.6 seconds.
The Kia Niro SUV is available in a plug-in hybrid. Plus, its self-charging hybrid is among the best options in its class. It's pretty roomy inside with maximised interior space and a 427-litre boot. The SUV has everything you'd expect from a modern PHEV with infotainment systems and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. That’s topped off with a range of around 30 miles plus a 1.6-litre engine for great fuel economy.
Skoda Octavia iV
The Skoda Octavia is renowned for its comfortable ride on long motorway drives. While hybrids aren't known for their efficiency in longer journeys compared to petrol/diesel cars, the iV now has hybrid technology to rival the alternatives. The 34 miles pure electric range is reasonable. Plus, its 1.4-litre petrol engine delivers good fuel economy. Business leases also benefit from a reduced BiK tax band.
SEAT's ever-popular model has had a hybrid uplift. There's a choice of mild or plug-in hybrid models, with the latter providing around 40 miles of range. This means short journeys will utilise its eco-friendly electric motor without dipping too much into the fuel. Design-wise, it has everything you'd expect from SEAT, contemporary lines, a stylish interior and tons of on-board tech.
Mercedes Benz E 300 de
If you're looking for a luxury drive with the best of diesel and electric power, this model is for you. Its range offers 34 miles of pure electric driving. However, it then switches to 50mpg when running on the diesel engine alone. This means you could still utilise fully electric urban drives similar to smaller compact models. It packs an impressive host of tech in the cabin. Plus, its signature comfort and roomy interior comes as standard.
SUVs are taking centre stage in 2022, and the Hyundai Tucson is another favourite in the running. It has a distinctive look and boasts good fuel economy with shorter distances on pure electric and 50mpg once it switches over. There's no scrimping on tech either with touchscreen, dual-zone air-con and driver assistance features to enhance the experience.
Leasing a Hybrid Car With Leasing Options
Whether you're looking for a city run-around or require a fleet of cars and vans, Leasing Options has the perfect hybrid solution.
We offer hybrid leasing deals from top manufacturers including Audi, Nissan, Vauxhall and BMW, plus many more. What's more, business leases enjoy several tax benefits, including a reduced BiK rate and up to 100% VAT back (eligibility conditions apply).
If you'd like to explore the range of hybrid leasing deals available, get in touch with the team today.