Last updated on Jul 7th, 2020 at 01:46 pm

What is a hybrid you may ask? Short answer: a car that combines a petrol or diesel engine with an electric motor

Over 2,2 million plug-in vehicles were delivered globally last year: that’s 9% up from 2018. Hybrids are more popular than ever before – with the two largest markets being China and the United States.

The main benefit of driving a hybrid is that it’s kinder to the environment as it consumes less fuel and emits less CO2.

With hybrids becoming increasingly popular in South Africa, here are four things you should know about  these cars:

1. A marriage of two technologies

The hybrid uses two engines – a petrol engine and an electric motor. The interesting thing about these two power plants is that they work together seamlessly.

When you drive off from a traffic light or stop street, the electric motor is working all on its own – meaning that you’re consuming absolutely no fue! A car like the XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid (PHEV) can do this for up to roughly 40 kilometers. At higher speeds, the petrol engine takes over.

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It’s a great example of two technologies working in parallel.

2. The brakes do more than just stop the car

Brakes on regular cars result in a waste of energy. With hybrids, however, the kinetic energy that was propelling the car forward can be used to recharge the battery!

This is called “regenerative braking”. Regenerative braking is not the sole domain of hybrids. In 2009, Formula 1 introduced a regenerative braking system called the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS).2.

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3. Not all hybrids are the same

There are lots of different types of hybrids on the market – for instance, you will find a car described as a “mild hybrid” and this is one that purely gives a boost of electrical power to support the petrol engine. A “full hybrid” such as the Volvo XC90 T8 can run on either the electric motor or the petrol engine (or both at the same time). This is also known as a “parallel hybrid”.

4. Lots of torque

Finally, and this is probably the most important thing you need to know about a hybrid: thanks to the electric engine, it offers a lot of low-down torque. Put your foot flat at take off and you will race forward at breath-taking speed. So, you’re not only saving the planet. You’re having fun too!


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