It’s no secret that hybrid vehicles have gone mainstream. Nearly every car manufacturer these days now offers at least one hybrid model. Even luxury divisions are including hybrid electric vehicles in their lineups. Consumers simply want more fuel-efficient, eco-friendly options when shopping for new-to-them vehicles.
But demand isn’t the only reason you’re seeing more hybrid vehicles on the roads. Though they do come with higher initial sticker prices than their gas counterparts, advancements in technology have made hybrid vehicles more affordable for the long term, especially as gas prices rise.
But you may have questions about how hybrid vehicle technology works, the distinct classes and drivetrain types, and how to tell what you’re looking for. Below, we’ll break down the basics of the different classes of hybrid vehicles and the details that set them apart.
How Hybrids Work
Understanding how hybrid powertrain technology works is often a big help in determining not only whether to invest in a hybrid vehicle, but also what type to buy when the time comes.
Hybrid vehicles, by and large, derive power from both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor — which itself draws electricity from a high-voltage battery pack that captures “energy” through regenerative braking (the process of recovering kinetic energy that would otherwise be lost as heat). Without getting into too many details, that’s pretty much how hybrid electric vehicles work.
The Main Classes of Hybrid Vehicles
When in the market for a hybrid vehicle, you’ll find two classes: mild hybrid and full hybrid. Mild hybrids generally use the electric motor more sporadically than full hybrids, largely due to the size of the motors and batteries. They’re smaller than those in full hybrids. The system will engage the motor, for example, to assist the engine when accelerating from a stop.
However, Ford did introduce a Ford hybrid vehicle in 2020 that uses mild hybrid technology to improve fuel efficiency. The smart system monitors how drivers operate the vehicle, and then it adjusts motor and battery usage to reduce the amount of work required of the engine. It would engage the motor while coasting to a stop, offering assistance during normal driving, and so on.
With the full hybrid, the system engages the electric motor more often or allows drivers to run in all-electric mode for periods of time — usually at slow speeds, but some systems do so during highway usage (though only for seconds) when the battery has sufficient power. The system also engages the motor for longer periods during certain driving conditions.
The Main Types of Hybrid Vehicles
On top of the classes of hybrid vehicles, you’ll also encounter a few different hybrid drivetrains: parallel, series, and through-the-road — which is really a type of parallel hybrid but is still important to note.
- Parallel hybrids. Parallel hybrids are probably the most common hybrid vehicle. The engine works in tandem with the motor. Manufacturers connect the engine directly to the wheels, so the vehicle uses gas and then draws extra power from the motor on an as-needed basis.
- Series hybrids. With series hybrids, the motor (or motors) power the car. There’s still an internal combustion engine, but it powers a generator that maintains the flow of electricity. You’re still using gas, just in a different way.
- Through-the-road hybrids. As mentioned, through-the-road hybrids are parallel hybrids. But instead of the engine connected to all four wheels, the motor provides power to one set while the engine is in charge of the other two. These are often found in all-wheel-drive hybrid electric vehicles.
What’s the Best Hybrid Vehicle?
The best hybrid vehicle is really a matter of personal preference. Most models and classes will offer the power and fuel efficiency you’re looking for in a hybrid vehicle. Hybrid options within our inventory at Chaparral Ford include Ford hybrid vehicles such as hybrid Ford F-150s, plus Chrysler Pacificas, Hyundai Sonatas, and more.
No matter whether you’re looking for a car, truck, or SUV, you can find options powered in numerous ways. The team at Chaparral Ford can answer any questions you might have and help you find the best hybrid vehicle for your needs.
Are you looking for a hybrid vehicle in the San Antonio area? Schedule a test drive via our website today — or just give us a call at (830) 455-7900!