Hybrid confusions unravelled

Many people have considered switching to a hybrid car, but have been put off by the false notion that hybrids are complicated to drive. This myth has probably grown up around the fact that some hybrids have different driving modes, but it’s not something that a driver is required to use, it’s an additional nicety on some models which allows you to switch between eco mode, sports mode and dual power with the press of a button.

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Photo: GlenBledsoe

And the three modes offer different levels of fuel economy. In fact, most hybrids do all the thinking for themselves, some dashboards recommend which mode you should be using and when, and others just switch modes automatically.

One of the most refreshing things about hybrid technology is that it’s straightforward. The technology uses a traditional internal combustion engine that is powered by petrol or diesel, in conjunction with an electric motor.  On some hybrids – known as full hybrids – the electric motor or the engine can be used in isolation or as a combination.  Mild hybrids, on the other hand, have a bigger engine and the electric motor can’t power the car on its own, but kicks in to assist the engine on acceleration. In any hybrid, when the electric motor is working you save on fuel and reduce CO2 emissions.

In a recent survey by Honda UK, over half of the respondents mistakenly believed that hybrids need plugging in to charge the electric motor. In fact, a hybrid car’s brakes recharge the motor’s batteries through a process called regenerative braking, so there’s no need to plug it in to recharge.  What may have led to this confusion is that there are now plug-in hybrid cars in the UK which can be plugged in to charge the electric motor when parked, but these still recharge through regenerative braking as well.

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