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What is a hybrid electric vehicle?

Hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) are vehicles powered by an electric motor and either a petrol or diesel internal combustion engine (ICE). Fuel consumption is often lower, and they produce less CO2 emissions than a conventionally-powered vehicle.

Unlike plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), HEVs are self-charging, so do not need to be plugged-in. They have the ability to be driven in fully-electric mode, but as the battery is considerably smaller than it is in a PHEV or battery electric vehicle (BEV), it can only maintain this for short distances.

Typically, HEVs seamlessly switch between the electric motor and the engine as the power source, or utilise both at the same time for optimal fuel economy and performance.

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How does a hybrid electric vehicle work?

While driving a Hybrid Electric Vehicle, slow speed journeys can be completed in pure electric mode, and once the vehicle's speed increases, the ICE will automatically kick in to assist, ensuring your journey continues seamlessly.

A key differentiator between a HEV and a PHEV is the size of the battery. Hybrids have a smaller battery than plug-in hybrids, so cannot be driven in pure electric mode for as long. However, you will not have to plug a HEV in to recharge like you do with a PHEV, as the battery is recharged automatically through an intelligent regenerative braking system that captures energy that is normally lost during braking.

A key differentiator between a HEV and a PHEV is the size of the battery. Hybrids have a smaller battery than plug-in hybrids, so cannot be driven in pure electric mode for as long.

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Benefits of buying a hybrid electric car


Need more advice?

If you are interested in a hybrid electric vehicle but would like further guidance, we have written a range of articles to assist.


View Hybrid and Electric Guides


Popular hybrid electric models

There is a select range of full hybrid cars to choose from, including:

Porsche Cayenne

Porsche's luxury high-performance SUV with powerful hybrid electric technology.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between hybrid and plug-in hybrid?

PHEVs have a larger battery, which enables them to drive further in all-electric mode than a HEV. PHEVs also need plugging-in, whilst HEVs do not.

How do I charge a hybrid electric vehicle?

HEVs are self-charging so do not require plugging-in to charge, the engine (ICE) is able to recharge the battery whilst driving via regenerative braking.

How far can hybrid cars travel in all-electric mode?

HEVs are self-charging and regularly switch to full-electric mode, making them ideal for driving short distances in electric mode only.

Can you get a self-charging hybrid with a manual transmission?
Currently, the only type of hybrid car with a manual transmission is a mild hybrid (MHEV).
Can you get all-wheel or four-wheel drive hybrid cars?

4x4s traditionally use more fuel than standard front-wheel drive cars, but thanks to efficient hybrid technology, there is now a wide range of hybrid electric four-wheel and all-wheel drive models.

Are government grants available for hybrid cars?

Currently, only plug-in hybrid vehicles are eligible for a grant from the government.

Do self-charging hybrids make good company cars?
HEVs tend to be a good company car due to them having lower rates of benefit in kind (BIK) tax than petrol and diesel alternatives.
Are full hybrid cars available on the Motability Scheme?

Yes, there is a wide selection of full hybrid cars available to order through the Motability Scheme.