What is a Hybrid Car and Why Are They so Popular?

At first glance, plug-in hybrid vehicles look a lot like their cousins that run on standard gasoline. What sets them apart, however, is the engine beneath their hood. Hybrid vehicles run on a combination of electricity (battery power) and standard gasoline. They are known for their efficiency and fuel economy. Most are designed in the form of passenger vehicles, but they are also produced in the form of trucks, commercial vehicles, vans, and even military vehicles. Hybrid vehicles have been available to the public since 2010. They are produced both in the US and overseas, especially in China. Currently, there are about 20 plug-in style hybrid cars available on the US market. Worldwide, there are more than 40 kinds of hybrid cars. Hybrids are produced by major automakers such as Toyota, MINI Cooper, Chevrolet, Hyundai, and Chrysler. If you’ve been considering getting a hybrid vehicle or you’re simply curious to know how they work, here’s some information about how they work and which vehicles you might find for sale near you.

What is a Hybrid?

Although they seem like a modern invention (and modern craze), the concept for electric cars was actually developed in 1899 by Porsche. Today’s hybrid vehicle (or a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle “PHEV”) is a semi-electric vehicle that uses a rechargeable battery for at least a portion of its energy. Many hybrids also have an engine and an on-board generator to use as a source of backup power in case their electricity runs out in between charging stations. Hybrids have a similar mechanical composition to standard vehicles in the sense that they operate on an engine and produce emissions through a tailpipe. But because they run partially on electricity, hybrids generally have a lower emissions volume than cars that run on standard gasoline. This feature gives them an environmentally-friendly image and makes them popular among people who are searching for a more eco-conscious vehicle.

What Makes Hybrids so Popular?

While today’s plug-in hybrid cars are driven primarily by people who want to reduce their carbon footprint, interest in hybrids was initially sparked overseas in 2003 and 2004, when the cost of gasoline surged in Europe. Rising gas prices made their way over to the United States too, which made people opt for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. Automakers saw tremendous opportunity to introduce the public to quasi-electric vehicles. The introduction of electric vehicles proved to be quite popular, as Americans realized how much money they could save if they weren’t dependent entirely on gasoline. In Europe, the first electric car was produced by Renault. This car, called the Kangaroo, had an engine and efficient battery that, when plugged in to PHEV chargers, could be recharged to 95% of its capacity within hours. This first electric car was most popular in France, Norway, and the UK. The Kangaroo was revamped and rebranded in 2007.

Following the success of Renault’s electric vehicle, other automakers followed suit and started to produce their own semi-electric cars. Toyota, GM, and Ford were some of the major automakers to produce their own electric cars. In 2007, Ford alone created a fleet of 20 PHEV vehicles, which is distributed to the electric company Southern California Edison. In 2008, Ford created an SUV to join its fleet of hybrid cars. Several years later, in 2009, Ford was making hybrid versions of some of its best-selling cars, including the Escape, which is a mid-size SUV. In 2008, Toyota jumped on the hybrid bandwagon and started production of its own electric and gasoline-powered cars. In addition to making its passenger vehicles electric, Toyota also extended sales of its electric vehicles to the commercial market, where it outfitted a number of its commercial vans with electric motors.

How Do Hybrids Charge?

Despite the fact that they’re produced by different automakers, hybrids recharge in the same basic manner. They have a battery charger, which is either located in the car or on the outside, that plugs into an electric charging station. Since electric cars are becoming more popular, PHEV charging stations are becoming more prevalent, too. You might see them at your local grocery store, convenience store, or in larger towns and cities. Most hybrid cars are designed to last anywhere between 20 and 100 miles between charges. To get them where they need to go in between stops, they have the ability to switch to a gasoline engine.

Hybrid Options Today

As demand for hybrid vehicles continues to grow, more and more are coming to the mainstream market. Currently, one of the best-selling hybrid vehicles in the US is the Chevy Volt. The Chevy Volt, which is a compact five-passenger sedan, has actually been the top hybrid market in the nation for several years. One of the most famous hybrids is the Toyota Prius, which comes in several trim levels. As for minivans, a standout is the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. MINI Cooper, Hyundai, Volvo and Cadillac also make popular hybrid cars.

With the ability to lower emissions and save money on fuel, hybrid vehicles are an increasingly popular option for consumers around the world. To keep up with demand, automakers are continuing to make innovative vehicles and improve electric-vehicle technology. So far, this technology has been well-received by the public, and enthusiasm for it shows no signs of slowing down.

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6 Comments

  1. julia87
    julia87
    , 2019-02-22

    It’s for people who wants to explore electric but isn’t fully ready to let go the gasoline. It’s a nice transition vehicle until you’re ready to embrace electric. Rode the Toyota Avalon and didn’t really know it was a hybrid until my friend driving told me. I can see a rise of people going to electric eventually though, maybe not very soon but eventually.

  2. cheskaj
    cheskaj
    , 2019-02-22

    I’ve driven a Chevy Volt, it seemed fine to me. What’s nice is that it definitely saves the environment with lower emissions and saves your pocket on the pricey fuel rates. It’s good for those who aren’t ready to transition to a full electric car. Just like how Grace raised what would happen if you end up going to a place with no power chargers, as we know we are still in the transition in making power chargers available everywhere.

  3. rosiee007
    rosiee007
    , 2019-02-11

    Which ones of these would you recommend when it comes to EVs?

  4. rosiee007
    rosiee007
    , 2019-02-11

    Some of the most popular Hybrid Cars these days include the 2019 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid SUV, 2019 Lexus ES 300h Luxury FWD, 2019 BMW 530e ALL-Wheel Drive Sedan, 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited, and 2019 Toyota Highlander Hybrid SUV.

  5. laurenh
    laurenh
    , 2019-02-10

    I agree with Grace that this seems like a safer more realistic option to ease into electric cars. Are there any drawbacks to having a hybrid besides gas usage that I should be thinking about?

  6. Grace Smith
    Grace Smith
    , 2019-02-10

    I think a hybrid car would definitely work better with my lifestyle because I’m not quite ready to commit to a fully electric car because I still like to go places that would definitely not have any power chargers.

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