What Is Hybrid Car? | How does a Hybrid Car Work? | What is Hybrid Vehicle?

The combination of two or more power sources is known as a hybrid. The vehicle designed on hybrid technology is known as a hybrid vehicle. Hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) includes in the world’s most famous vehicles. A hybrid electrical car has two power sources: an I.C. engine and the other is an electric motor.

How Car Engine Works
How Car Engine Works

The I.C. engine and electric motor are used in the hybrid car to increase the vehicle power and reduce the emission rate. The engine is known as the heart of the vehicle. This is the engine that converts the power of the fuel into the motion of the car.

What is a Hybrid Car?

Any vehicle which can be powered by two or more power sources is called a Hybrid vehicle. A hybrid car is a type of vehicle which uses both the electric motor and I.C. engine as a power source.

It is not possible to connect a hybrid electric vehicle to charge the battery. Instead, the battery is charged by regenerative braking and an I.C. engine. The extra power provided by the electric motor can potentially allow for smaller engines.

The battery also powers the auxiliary load and reduces engine idling when stopped. These two power sources (electric motor and I.C. engine) improve fuel economy without sacrificing performance.

hybrid car

In contrast to fully operated I.C. engine cars, the hybrid electrical car has batteries that provide and drive electric motors in addition to a fuel tank that supplies power to the internal combustion engine. There are several methods to pack and charge the battery. The main advantage of the hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) is that it is fuel economical.

These types of cars have lower emission rates, higher power, and better fuel efficiency than conventional vehicles. A hybrid engine provides better fuel efficiency and power than other types of engines.

When a hybrid car drives or brakes, it creates excess energy to charge the engine battery. Therefore, you don’t need any external source to charge the battery manually. Secondly, this process also helps to improve fuel range or efficiency.

A conventional hybrid car is a fully electric vehicle. These include an electric motor that drives the wheels and a battery that powers the electric motor. Then there’s a completely separate petrol engine that powers the generator. Conventional hybrid cars have very small engines.

Conventional hybrid vehicles have high weight. These vehicles have to support the weight of batteries, gasoline engines, generators, and electric motors.

The conventional hybrid vehicle doesn’t require as much battery power as a pure electric car, so you can save weight, but a full-size electric motor and 10-kilowatt generator weigh hundreds of pounds.

Now, we are going to study how does a hybrid car work?  

Working Principle of Hybrid Car

The main purpose of hybrid car construction is to lower the combustion of fuel and lower the emission rate of harmful gases. Hybrid vehicles are powered by at least two types of energy sources.

The old hybrid vehicle had a stationary gas engine to power the generator. This generator transmits electrical energy to an electric motor mounted on the front wheel hub.

The latest hybrid vehicle uses a combination of electrical and fuel (petrol or diesel) power. This type of vehicle has a various number of electric motors.

hybrid car working

A hybrid car works in the following way:

  • First of all, the carburetor of the car engine sucks air from the environment and makes a mixture of the fuel-air mixture.
  • The air-fuel mixture is sent to the compression cylinder of the I.C. engine.
  • The compression cylinder contains a reciprocating piston.
  • This piston compresses the air and fuel mixture. Due to high compression, the air-fuel mixture ignites, and power generates.
  • The power produced by the engine is sent to the generator to generate electricity.
  • The generated electricity is used to charge the car battery or to run the motor.
  • As the power transfers to the battery, the battery stores it. This stored power is utilized to run the car when the engine is not working.

How does a Hybrid Vehicle charge battery?

It depends on the hybrid type. Most products, including plug-in and series hybrids, use a gasoline engine to generate electricity and charge the battery. 

Parallel hybrids differ because they only charge the battery by absorbing additional energy and converting it into electricity. The extra energy, typically wasted when the car is idling or slowing down, is stored in the battery for later use (e.g., regenerative braking).

This “regenerative” charging is used in petrol engines and other hybrid vehicles.

What is Regenerative Braking?

Regenerative braking is a method of recovering energy lost during braking and storing it as electrical energy in the battery.

As you press the car’s brakes, kinetic energy generates, which uses to move the car forward. It normally generates heat by the brake pads. However, hybrid vehicles’ regenerative braking technology can convert this dissipated heat into electricity.

When you squeeze the accelerator, the battery delivers power to drive the motor. As the motor receives power, it moves the wheels.

It reverses the process as you remove your foot off the accelerator or apply the brake. Power to the electric motor is cut, and the wheels transfer kinetic energy to the electric motor, essentially turning it into a generator and feeding power back into the battery.

All hybrids are also fitted with standard friction brake discs for sudden stops, as regenerative braking is not suitable for sudden stops.

Read Also: Different types of Engines

Types of Hybrid Cars

Automakers use various hybrid designs to achieve maximum fuel efficiency or keep the price of the hybrid vehicle as low as possible. There are different types of hybrid cars. The hybrid car has the following major types:

  1. Parallel Hybrid
  2. Series Hybrid
  3. Plug-in Hybrid
  4. 2-Mode Hybrid
  5. Mild-Hybrid

1) Parallel Hybrid

Parallel hybrid includes in the most famous types of hybrid electric cars. This design is very famous.

Parallel hybrids use both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor to produce the power and run the car. In a Parallel hybrid car, both the electric motor and I.C. engine are connected in parallel to the transmission or gearbox.

parallel hybrid car

The parallel hybrid uses a microcontroller to control the energy transfer process. This microcontroller determines whether the engine and motor operate separately or together.

A battery pack uses to power the electric motor, and a fuel tank uses to supply fuel to the engine. The electric motor also acts as the engine’s starting mechanism. These motor shafts are connected directly to the clutchless transmission.

Therefore, when the vehicle is driven solely by the engine, the shaft continues to rotate. This allows the motor to act as a generator. The electricity generated uses to charge the battery.

Examples of parallel hybrid vehicles are the Hyundai Sonata, the Toyota Prius, the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, etc.

Nowadays, almost all hybrid vehicles are parallel hybrids, not serial hybrid cars. The powertrain of Toyota’s hybrid car is equipped with an Internal combustion (I.C.) engine and two electric motors that can also use as a generator. These electric motors charge the engine batteries. Otherwise, energy will be wasted, for example, when breaking the car.

The energy stored in a relatively small battery is sufficient to power the powertrain or drive a car for about a mile as needed. Therefore, Toyota hybrid cars can only run-on electricity; these can also run-on I.C. engines or both. However, the only source of power for cars is fuel.

2) Series Hybrid

The process in which the one source of power is converted into the power of another one, and this power runs the car is known as a series hybrid. The vehicle works on the “series hybrid,” known as the series hybrid vehicle.

series hybrid car

The series hybrid car has a generator and engine in series. The generator uses the electricity produced by the engine to generate electrical power. This power is used to run the engine or charge the battery.

When the engine is not operating, the electricity stored in the batteries may utilize to move the vehicle. These cars are similar to electric cars in that the final drive is provided solely by the electric motor.

The speed of the motor can be changed simply by changing the power supply, eliminating the need for a complicated transmission system.

This system increases the engine efficiency and permits the engine to drive at the most efficient RPM regardless of vehicle speed.

The power produced during these idle situations is saved in the battery for later use. Series hybrid cars are more efficient but require a lot of energy conversion. Each of these conversions loses power and reduces the overall efficiency of the system. Another disadvantage of this series system is that it requires more parts than parallel systems. This increases the overall mass of the car.

Series hybrid power transmission systems are very popular in ships and locomotives. The nuclear submarine is an example of a series hybrid car. The nuclear reactors produce heat, which drives steam turbines, which further drive generators. The diesel locomotive is a hybrid vehicle. 

Nowadays, this method is used because it is much easier to move a vehicle on electrical power than to get raw power from a nuclear reactor or a large Diesel engine. Besides, the trains run hundreds of tons of weight, and the provision of clutch-less transmission is compulsory to run a train.

3) Plug-in Hybrid Car

The plug-in hybrid car allows traditional hybrid vehicles to have larger batteries that need to be recharged. Typically, these hybrid cars use a 110V socket to charge the battery, just like you would with an electric vehicle.

The plug-in hybrid cars rely on internal combustion engines and can run after a full charge, significantly improving the car’s fuel efficiency. Volvo XC40 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid, Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid, and BMW 330e are examples of plug-in hybrid electric cars.

plugin hybrid car

4) 2-Mode Hybrid Cars

These types of hybrid cars work in two distinct ways. In the first mode, it works like a normal hybrid car. In the 2nd mode, you can adapt the design to various engine requirements for a precise vehicle task.

2 mode hybrid car

5) Mild-Hybrid Car

In recent years, the cost has become very high for manufacturing hybrid vehicles having high efficiency. Vehicle companies are developing new plans to bring hybrid technologies to an ordinary person.

mild hybrid car

Automotive companies have adopted a mild hybrid design to meet emissions standards and slightly improve the efficiency of the fuel without significantly increasing costs.

In the mild hybrid car, an electric motor helps the petrol or gasoline engine to improve performance, improve fuel efficiency, or both. It is also used as a starter for the automatic stop or start functions, which reduce fuel consumption by turning off the engine as the vehicle is stationary and reducing fuel use. Baleno, Ciaz, and Maruti Suzuki Ertiga are examples of mild hybrid vehicles.

Read Also: Different types of Diesel Engines

Parts of Hybrid Car

The hybrid car has the following major parts:

  1. Transmission
  2. Traction Battery Pack
  3. Thermal (cooling) system
  4. Power Electronics Controller
  5. Internal Combustion Engine
  6. Fuel tank
  7. Fuel filter
  8. Exhaust system
  9. Electric traction motor
  10. Generator
  11. DC / DC Converter
  12. Battery

components of hybrid car

1) Transmission 

This component of the hybrid car drives the wheels by transmitting mechanical power from a traction motor or electric motor.

2) Traction Battery Pack 

This device saves power for use by the traction motors.

3) Thermal (cooling) system

This system can maintain a suitable operating temperature range for power electronics, electric motors, hybrid engines, and other parts.

4) Power Electronics Controller

This device achieves the electrical energy flow supplied by the traction battery and controls the traction-motor speed and its torque.

5) Internal Combustion Engine

In an IC engine, fuel injects inside the combustion chamber or the intake manifold, where it mixes with the air. This air-fuel mixture is ignited by a spark that is produced by the spark plug.

6) Fuel tank 

The fuel tank stores petrol in the vehicle until the engine needs it. A fuel pump uses to supply petrol from the fuel tank to the engine carburetor. 

Read Also: Working of Fuel Pump

7) Fuel filter

The fuel metering nozzle is connected to the vehicle tank to fill the fuel tank.

8) Exhaust system

This part of the hybrid car diverts the engine exhaust gases from the exhaust pipe by the tailpipe. Design a three-way catalytic converter to reduce engine emissions in the exhaust systems.

9) Electric traction motor

This part of the hybrid engine car uses the power of the traction battery pack, and this motor drives the wheels of the car. Some cars use a motor generator that performs both regenerations and driving roles.

10) Generator 

This device produces electrical power from the wheels, which turn when braking, and returns this energy to the traction battery. Some cars use motor-generators that perform drive as well as regeneration operations.

11) DC / DC Converter

This component of the hybrid electric car changes the high voltage DC power source from the traction battery pack to the low voltage DC power source required to power the vehicle accessories and charge the auxiliary batteries.

12) Battery (Auxiliary Battery) 

In electric vehicles, the auxiliary battery delivers the power to start the vehicle before activating the traction battery and provides power to the car accessories.

Fuel-Efficient System Design

  • Mild hybrid: This design is also known as a micro-hybrid. It uses batteries and electric motors to propel the vehicle and turn off the engine when it is stopped (e.g., at traffic lights or in intermittent traffic). The mild-hybrid car consumes low fuel. These hybrid systems can’t power a vehicle with electricity alone. These vehicles are generally cheaper than full hybrids but have fuel economy advantages over full hybrids.
  • Full hybrids: These vehicles are equipped with larger batteries and more powerful electric motors to propel the vehicle over short distances and at low speeds. These hybrid cars have more costs than mild hybrids but are more fuel-efficient.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Hybrid Cars

The advantages and disadvantages of the hybrid electric car are given below:

Advantages of Hybrid Car

  • Environmentally Friendly

The main advantage of hybrid vehicles over petrol vehicles is that they are cleaner and use more fuel. That makes it eco-friendly. Hybrid vehicles use dual-power engines (electric motor and gasoline engine) that reduce fuel consumption and save energy.

  • Financial Benefits

Hybrid vehicles are backed by plenty of credit and incentives to keep them affordable. The reduction in annual taxes and the exemption from congestion charges translate into a reduction in fuel consumption.

  • Less Dependence on Fossil Fuels

One of the main advantages of the hybrid car is that it consumes less than I.C. engine cars. It has a clean operation. That means they emit fewer exhaust gases and are less dependent on fossil fuels. This will help bring down gasoline prices in the local market.

  • Regenerative Braking System

As you press the brake of your hybrid vehicle, the K.E. produces. An internal mechanism uses to capture and transfer this generated energy to the battery. This eliminates the need to interrupt the period and charge the battery regularly.

  • Light Weight

Hybrid cars are made of lighter materials and require less energy to drive. Also, the motor is smaller and lighter, which saves a lot of energy.

  • Small Engine

The I.C. engines used in hybrid vehicles have small in size, light, and efficient because they do not have to be powered solely by the vehicle.

  • Assistance From Electric Motor

The I.C. engine of this vehicle consumes low fuel because an electric motor helps the engine to drive the vehicle.

  • Automatic Start and Stop

In hybrid vehicles, the engine starts automatically when the accelerator pedal presses and automatically stops when idling. PHEVs can cover longer distances at higher speeds than conventional hybrid vehicles. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles emit only water vapor and hot air, resulting in lower energy emissions.

Disadvantages of Hybrid Electric Car

  • Limited power 

Hybrids don’t have big I.C. engines, and even the electric motors aren’t that powerful, so you can’t come close to a large gasoline-powered vehicle that combines the two. Therefore, hybrids may not be the best option for those who like a lot of power.

  • Higher Prices

The main disadvantage of a hybrid car is that it has a very high price. Hybrid cars have relatively more costs than regular gasoline cars, costing $5,100 to $11,000 more than the standard version. However, the additional amount may balance by reduced operating costs and tax exemption.

  • Issues with handling

The hybrid vehicle becomes slightly heavier than its petrol counterpart with additional batteries. As such, you’ll notice some handling issues when driving the hybrid, which will affect suspension and fuel efficiency.

  • More expensive to repair

A hybrid vehicle is more expensive to maintain than an equivalent gasoline vehicle. That’s because hybrids are still innovative and have a lot to add to the market. Therefore, it is not possible to find all mechanics experienced in repairing these types of vehicles. This reason leads to expansive repairs of hybrid vehicles.

  • Expansive Maintenance

As we discuss earlier, hybrid vehicles have two engines. The presence of twin engines and ever-improving technology make a difficult to repair and maintenance of hybrid cars. Due to this, hybrid engines have high maintenance and service costs. Also, it isn’t easy to find a mechanic with that kind of experience.

  • Battery Cost

Hybrid cars rely heavily on batteries, making it almost impossible to drive without them. To make matters worse, replacing the battery in a hybrid car is very expensive, and many drivers are reluctant to buy such a car.

  • Design

These types of vehicles have complex designs. Therefore, the construction of these vehicles is very hard.

 Hybrid Car Vs Electric Car

The main difference between the electric car and hybrid car is given below:

SpecificationsElectric CarHybrid Car
FuelThe electric car needs electricity to drive which is provided by the battery pack (DC).A hybrid car uses both fuel (petrol or diesel) and electricity to drive.
ChargingIts battery is need to be charged manually.Its battery doesn’t need to be charged manually. 
PriceIt has a too high a price.The price of a hybrid vehicle is almost equal to the IC engine cars.
Exhaust gas emission.These cars emit low exhaust gases than hybrid cars.Hybrid cars emit more exhaust gases than electric vehicles.
Fuel EmissionIts fuel efficiency depends on the battery range.Its fuel efficiency depends on the combination of battery range and IC engine.
EngineThese vehicles use only an electrical engine.These cars use both IC engine and electric motor.

FAQ Section

What does hybrid mean in a car?

The combination of two or more power sources is known as a hybrid. The car designed on the base of hybrid technology is known as a hybrid car. The hybrid car has an IC engine and an Electric motor.

What does a Hybrid Car mean?

A car that uses two or more power sources is known as a hybrid car.

How does a hybrid vehicle work?

First of all, the IC engine generates power. A generator converts this engine power into electricity. This electricity uses to drive the motor while the remaining power stores in the battery. The stored power is used to run the vehicle when the engine is not working.

How to charge a Hybrid Car Battery?

There are multiple methods to charge a hybrid car battery, but the most common methods are given below: 

  • Charging at home: Maximum hybrid cars have a powerful 240V charger that can be connected to your homeland’s electrical system for charging. Plug-in hybrid car designs for touring need to be charged overnight to get full use of the battery. This idea is very profitable between the extended range of plug-in hybrid vehicles and the low cost of off-peak electricity.
  • Mobile charging: Some plug-in hybrids also have a mobile 120V charging cable that may plug into an outlet of the electricity. With this charger configuration, care must be taken not to trip the circuit breaker. These chargers take a long time to fully charge the battery than charging at home but are useful in a pinch.
  • Public charging stations: The number of charging stations is increasing day by day as hybrid technology becomes more widespread and cheaper.

How long does a Hybrid Car Battery last?

The maximum hybrid manufacturers claim that the average service life of the hybrid car battery is from 80,000 to 100,000 miles. Through 2020, Toyota went a step further and offered an 8-year or 100,000-mile warranty on hybrid batteries.

What are the components of hybrid car?

The following are the main components of the hybrid car:

  1. Transmission
  2. Traction Battery Pack
  3. Thermal (cooling) system
  4. Power Electronics Controller
  5. Internal Combustion Engine
  6. Fuel tank
  7. Fuel filter
  8. Exhaust system
  9. Electric traction motor
  10. Generator
  11. DC / DC Converter
  12. Battery
Read Also
  1. Different types of Engines
  2. Different types of Diesel Engines
  3. 2-stroke Engine Vs 4-stroke Engine
  4. Working and types of Reciprocating Engines

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