Hybrid-Electric Vehicles (HEVs) or Hybrid Cars mate the benefits of internal combustion engines and electric motors that can be configured to obtain different objectives such as improved fuel economy or increased performance to assist the car in driving conditions such as hill climbs and steep roads.
The HEV configuration allows a hybrid car to achieve performance, similar to a car powered by a bigger internal combustion engine, using a much smaller gasoline engine along with increased fuel efficiency.
In some vehicles, the motor alone provides power for low-speed driving conditions where internal combustion engines are least efficient.
Some of the advanced features typically used by hybrid cars include:
- Regenerative Braking: The electric motor applies resistance to the drive-train causing the wheels to slow down. In return, the energy from the wheels turns the motor, which functions as a generator, converting energy normally wasted during coasting and braking into electricity, which is stored in a battery until needed by the electric motor.
- Electric Motor Drive/Assist. The electric motor provides additional power to assist the engine in accelerating, passing, or hill climbing. This allows a smaller, more efficient engine to be used.
- Automatic Start/Shutoff. Automatically shuts off the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop and restarts it when the accelerator is pressed. This prevents wasted energy from idling.
- Plug-in Hybrid: They have larger batteries. These can be plugged into the grid and their increased supply of on-board electricity allows them to run in all-electric mode from a low of maybe 10 to 23 kilometers for the Toyota Prius PHEV.