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The Ultimate Hybrid Car FAQs

Find answers to the most commonly asked questions about hybrid car leasing. Can’t find the answer you’re looking for? Head to the bottom of the page to leave a comment. 

What is the difference between an electric and a hybrid? 

The main difference between an electric and hybrid is the way the vehicle is powered.

As the name suggests, an electric vehicle (EV) uses electricity to power the vehicle. For an electric car to function, you must plug it into a charge point in order to take electricity from the grid. This electricity is then stored in the vehicle’s rechargeable batteries which powers the electric motor and turns the wheels. 

A hybrid is a partially electrified vehicle. This means it uses an electric motor and a conventional petrol or diesel engine to drive the wheels. Depending on the type of hybrid, some hybrid vehicles (known as plug-in hybrids or PHEVs) need to be plugged into an electrical power source in order for the electric motor to work, while others (known as mild hybrids, full hybrids or self-charging hybrids) automatically charge the vehicle’s battery whilst ‘on the move’. 

You can find out more about the difference between electric and hybrids in our handy Electric vs Hybrid guide. 

Are their different types of hybrids? 

There are three different types of hybrids available in the UK: mild hybrid, full hybrid and plug-in hybrid (PHEV). 

Mild Hybrid (MHEVs) 

Seen as a stepping-stone into full hybrid technology, a mild hybrid car combines a traditional petrol or diesel engine with a small electric motor to help reduce emissions and improve fuel economy. Unlike a full hybrid or PHEV, a mild hybrid car cannot drive under electric power alone, the electric motor is purely there to improve the engine’s efficiency. 

Full Hybrid

Working in a similar way to a mild hybrid, a full hybrid vehicle combines an electric motor and a battery pack with a conventional gasoline engine. Unlike a mild hybrid however, a full hybrid car can drive under its own electric, powering the vehicle independently at low speeds (usually up to 15mph) for short distances. A full hybrid also does not need to be plugged into a power source like an EV or PHEV vehicle as they automatically recharge their battery whilst ‘on the move’. 

Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV)

A plug-in hybrid (PHEV) uses the same technology as a full hybrid – combining an electric motor with a conventional gasoline engine - but with a much bigger battery. As the name suggests, a PHEV must be plugged into a power source in order to charge the battery, however unlike a mild hybrid or a full hybrid vehicle, a PHEV can travel further using only electric power, with most PHEVs offering an electric-only range of around 30 miles. 

Do I need to charge a hybrid? 

Whether you need to charge your hybrid or not depends on the type of hybrid vehicle you have. Mild hybrid and full hybrids are charged automatically without any intervention by the driver by regenerative braking. 

Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) however need to be plugged into an electric charge point to top up the battery. This can be done at an EV charging point or via a domestic three-point plug. 

Does a hybrid charge itself?

Mild hybrid and full hybrid vehicles automatically recharge their battery whilst ‘on the move’. Energy typically lost during braking or when the vehicle is at a stand-still is harvested and stored in the vehicle’s battery pack. This energy is then to power the vehicle’s wheels at low speeds (full hybrid) or as a power booster to assist the engine (mild hybrid), helping to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. 

Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) need to be plugged into an electric power source in order to charge the vehicle’s battery. This can be either at an EV charge point or at a domestic three-point plug. 

What happens if the battery goes flat? 

One of the advantages of a hybrid vehicle over a pure electric vehicle is that it can run on petrol or diesel power alone, so if the battery in a hybrid vehicle goes flat, you can still run the vehicle using the gasoline engine. As such, hybrid vehicles are a popular choice with drivers who want to go ‘green’ but aren’t ready to make the leap to a fully electric vehicle. 

Do I need to install anything at home?

If you decide to lease a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), you will need to plug your vehicle into a power source in order to charge the battery. Most PHEV customers choose to have a home charge point installed to charge the vehicle overnight, however this is a personal choice and is not mandatory requirement. A PHEV can also be charged at one of the 10,000 public electric car charging points situated across the UK. You can read more about this in our Electric Car Charging Points guide. 

If you opt for a mild hybrid or full hybrid vehicle, you do not need to install a power point at home as these vehicles automatically recharge their battery whilst ‘on the move’ by using regenerative braking. 

How does a hybrid work? 

Hybrid cars are powered by an internal combustion engine (ICE), an electric motor and a small battery pack which drive the car, either simultaneously or independently. Unlike an electric car which uses electric alone for power, a hybrid vehicle uses both engines – the electric motor and gasoline engine – to power the vehicle. This means that if you run out of electric power, you can still run the vehicle using the gasoline (petrol or diesel) engine. 

Does a hybrid car need less maintenance?

Not necessarily. With both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor to maintain, hybrid vehicles can cost more to maintain than a petrol or diesel fuelled vehicle. However, as hybrids increase in popularity, maintenance and servicing costs are expected to come down over time. 

Does a hybrid car need oil? 

As a hybrid car uses an internal combustion engine (ICE) alongside an electric motor, it needs to be maintained in the same way you would a petrol or diesel car, this includes regularly checking - and changing - the engine oil. Oil is essential to help keep your hybrid working smoothly, reducing friction and wear to moving parts and helping to keep the engine clean. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend changing your engine oil every 12 months or 9,000 miles, whichever comes sooner, but you should still check your engine oil at regular intervals to ensure your car remains safe to drive. 

Do hybrid cars need a MOT? 

Yes, just like a conventional petrol or diesel car, a MOT is required on a hybrid vehicle. A MOT is an important safety test which checks that your vehicle meets road safety and environmental standards. In the UK, a MOT is a legal requirement and you must get a MOT for your hybrid vehicle on: 

  • the third anniversary of its registration and; 
  • on the anniversary of its last MOT, if it’s over 3 years old 

How long does the battery last for? 

It is estimated that the battery in a hybrid vehicle is expected to last 10 to 20 years before it needs to be replaced, however, this is dependant on its extended use. Just like the battery in your mobile phone or laptop, the batteries in a hybrid vehicle will inevitably lose some of its capacity over extended use. This is due to charging and discharging. Each time that happens, it’s called a ‘cycle’. The more cycles your battery has the more degradation occurs. Thankfully the majority of hybrid manufacturers offer a five to eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty on the battery.

What is a hybrid car like to drive? 

As a hybrid car still has an internal combustion engine (ICE), a hybrid car is similar to driving a conventional automatic car, so there’s little compromise on performance. The only difference you may feel is when the vehicle is in electric mode, as engine noise is almost entirely eliminated. While this makes for an all-round more peaceful environment, for both driver and passengers, the lack of engine noise can be disconcerting for some drivers who think the engine has cut out. 

Are hybrid cars manual or automatic? 

To seamlessly combine the electric motor with the internal combustion engine, almost all hybrid vehicles have an automatic gearbox. Mostly these tend to be CVT – continuously variable transmissions – which is a type of single-speed automatic gearbox. Its compact size and simplicity of construction means it's more cost-effective to use in a small car than a conventional automatic gearbox. In theory, you could have a manual hybrid, but the efficiencies are made by the motor cutting in and out when it needs to, it’s also far less work to drive an automatic, especially if it’s in traffic. 

Are hybrid cars exempt from London’s Congestion Charges? 

Under the current guidelines, selected hybrid cars are exempt from London’s Congestion Charge, which is known as the Cleaner Vehicle Discount. To qualify for exemption, vehicles must be: 

  • An electric car
  • Emit no more than 75g/km
  • Meet Euro 6 emission standards 
  • Have a minimum 20-mile zero emission capable range 

From 2021, plug-in hybrid vehicles will no longer be exempt from the London congestion charge as part of a new package of measures aimed at tackling congestion and improving air quality. 

Are hybrid cars better for the environment? 

While a hybrid vehicle may not be as environmentally friendly as a pure electric vehicle (EV), they are significantly cleaner than a traditional gasoline powered vehicle thanks to their twin powered engine. In a hybrid, the electric motor and the gasoline engine work together to reduce fuel consumption and conserve energy, making them cleaner than a petrol or diesel fuelled car. 

Which hybrid car has the longest range? 

BMW top the list when it comes to PHEVs with the longest range, with the BMW 330e PHEV offering an electric-only range of 28 miles, the BMW 530e Saloon PHEV offering an electric-only range 27 miles and the BMW i8 Coupe PHEV offering an electric-only range of 27 miles.

Which hybrid car is the cheapest? 

With a starting list price of £15,995, the Toyota Yaris is the cheapest hybrid car on the market.

What is a hybrid car and should I lease one? Electric & Hybrid guides
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