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What is a self-charging car?

Unlike full electric cars, a self-charging electric car, also known as a self-charging hybrid car, is a car that powers itself as you drive it. A mix of traditional fuel and electric car technology, it powers its own battery using regenerative braking - a force created when the car slows down. This saves the need for charging the car while you’re at home, while also preventing the risk that you’ll ever run out of charge while driving. 

We look at the pros and cons of self-charging electric cars so you can see if they’re the right choice for you. 

man driving toyota self charging car

What is the difference between a self-charging hybrid and a plug-in hybrid?

Plug-in hybrid cars use a mix of traditional fuel and an electric battery. Their main source of power is the fuel, however by using the battery to assist with aspects of driving they significantly reduce the amount of fuel you use. This can save you money at the petrol station, while also lowering your car’s carbon emissions. 

To charge a plug-in hybrid car, you’ll either use a slower charging cable that plugs into a domestic socket, a specific charging station fitted at your home, or one of many that are appearing across the country. Typically they can only travel around 30 miles on electricity alone, although fuel will be doing the bulk of the work. 

They’re more economical than a fuel-only car, especially if you regularly plug them in. 

Self-charging electric cars, however, can’t be plugged in. They charge themselves up as you’re driving, using the power generated by traditional fuel to fill up your electricity levels. This electricity is then used to help with things like breaking, indicating and accelerating, adding to your car’s efficiency. 

However, due to the small battery size of a self-charging car, they can only travel around a mile on electricity alone, and are much less economical than their plug-in alternatives. 

Are self-charging cars any good?

That really depends on what you use your car for, and how forgetful you are. In the electric and hybrid car family, self-charging cars are the least fuel efficient and offer the lowest electric driving distance. They also produce more carbon than their alternatives, meaning you’ll end up in a higher tax bracket. 

However, they are good for a number of reasons. 

If you aren’t eligible for an electric charging point at your home, self-charging cars could be a good compromise as they still lower your carbon footprint. Electric wall chargers usually require a drive or garage, as you can’t trail their charging cables over any public footpath or road. 

If you don’t have off-road parking, a self-charging electric car could be your best bet. 

They’re also good for acceleration, as that’s when the battery is its most effective. Expect to go faster from a standing start, while also benefiting from reduced braking times and tighter steering. 

Finally, you don’t need to remember to charge them up. You can go home and park up, safe in the knowledge that they’ll be good to go the next morning.

What is the best self-charging electric car?

Currently, self-charging cars are only available from specific providers, with Toyota, Lexus and Kia leading the way. There are a range of options on offer, from saloons to family-friendly estates, so what constitutes the best really depends on what you’re looking for. 

Take a look at all our electric and hybrid car deals to find the car perfect for you. 

What is the cheapest self-charging car?

Self-charging cars are typically less expensive than plug-in hybrids or full electrics, due to them having smaller batteries. 

Our hybrid and electric lease deals change all the time, with our cheapest starting from under £200 a month. It’s always best to check our latest offers before you commit - you never know what you could save. 

Want to know more about electric and hybrid cars?

Take a look at our electric and hybrid guides to learn all you need to know about the greener way to drive. From tax savings through to less money spent on fuel, there are plenty of reasons why you might want to make the switch and our guides cover them all. 

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