What is a mild hybrid electric vehicle (MHEV)?
A mild hybrid electric vehicle (MHEV) is powered by a petrol or diesel internal combustion engine (ICE), but it relies on additional assistance from an electric motor.
Although MHEVs do have an electric motor and a small battery, the vehicle cannot be driven in pure electric mode. The electric motor and battery simply support the engine, improving fuel economy, reducing CO2 emissions, whilst also boosting performance.
The majority of mild hybrids utilise a 48-volt electrical system, powering components that would usually rely on the ICE.
No charging is required with mild hybrid cars and vans, they also tend to have a lower initial purchase price compared to full hybrids (HEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).
Should I buy a mild hybrid electric vehicle?
How do mild hybrid cars work?
Utilising a combination of an ICE and an electric motor, like HEVs and PHEVs, mild hybrid electric vehicles are able to deliver benefits such as reduced CO2 tailpipe emissions and improved fuel economy.
However, unlike HEVs and PHEVs, MHEVs are unable to use electric motor independently to power the wheels; hence the term 'mild' hybrid.
Regenerative braking allows mild hybrid vehicles to harvest energy, which is usually lost during deceleration, to charge the 12 or 48-volt battery.
This energy is then used to support the petrol or diesel ICE thanks to an integrated starter generator. Enhanced fuel efficiency and a smoother driving experience are the result of this process.
A helpful infographic of a Jaguar F-PACE MHEV is shown opposite for reference.
What are the different types of electric vehicles?
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The main difference between all three is the battery size.
PHEVs have the largest battery, allowing them to be driven further in all-electric mode than a HEV, and require plugging-in to charge the battery.
Although the battery in a HEV is smaller than a PHEV, it is bigger than the one found in MHEVs; therefore allowing the HEV to travel in pure electric mode for short distances.
Mild hybrids cannot be driven in fully electric mode as the battery is only small, but the electric motor is able to assist the ICE for better performance and economy.
- Lower CO2 emissions
- Improved fuel economy
- Increased performance
- Better for the environment
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Mild hybrids do offer a host of benefits over traditionally ICE-powered vehicles. Better mpg, lower CO2 emissions and increased performance are just some ot them. However, they are not as efficient or economical as full hybrids, plug-in hybrids or all-electric vehicles.