How Do Hybrid Cars Work? – Know Before Buying One

Isaac Fernandez

With climate change getting worse and environmental sustainability becoming more and more important to everyday life, it’s time to make a switch. Gas guzzling cars are not only terrible for the environment but are now becoming too ostentatious for serious people. Cars like Hummers and corvettes are coming out of style because although they are theoretically sexy cars, they cost more at the gas pump and aren’t worth all the maintenance. 

Now, designer car names are tapping into the potential and power of hybrid automation. Moreover, in the next decade, emission restrictions will hopefully be stricter to help improve the planet’s carbon rates in the atmosphere. Therefore, to evolve, the best hybrid cars are the way of the near future.

How To Define Hybrid Cars

How Do Hybrid Cars Work

A hybrid car is defined as one that’s powered with an electric motor and an internal combustion engine. Simply put, it’s the best of both worlds, both motor and engine working to power and steer the wheels system. With benefits in fuel economy mileage and performance, hybridization is making its single powered ancestors obsolete.

One of the first hybrid car examples was the 1997 Toyota Prius, once considered a fanciful experiment, now after four generations the desired model by most buyers. 

What all hybrids have in common is the on-board battery pack located in the trunk, behind rear seats, or under the floor pan, which allows the driver to better handle and maneuver the car. The pluses of this battery are that it performs well when needing to speed or being idle while not wasting any gas. Eventually, when the electric motor runs out of juice, the backup gasoline motor then not only recharges the battery but powers the wheels. 

How Do Hybrid Cars Work?

Different hybrid brands have varying designs and layouts but from Toyota to Honda to Ford, the gasoline engine is the primary energy source. There’s always going to be some gas lost because even the best hybrid car needs the gasoline engine to charge the electric battery pack. 

Same in all forms, the electric motor produces kinetic energy with regenerative braking. You might ask “how does a Prius work?” in contrast to its competitors. It’s the same process as other hybrids, Prius meaning “first” or “original” in Latin only correlates with the timing of hybrid invention, but it’s in no way original.  

The primary source of propulsion, however, is given to the electric motor instead of the gasoline engine. Specifically, Toyota hybrids come with Hybrid Synergy Drive and Continuously Variable Transmission replace the gearbox of a gasoline engine, and the electric one is surrounded by gears specific to its functions. This includes a planetary gear set, a planetary carrier, a sun gear, a ring gear, and pinion gears. 

Overall, it’s highly sophisticated technology, computers that automatically detect a hybrid’s position an energy levels will always favor electric functions over gasoline.

Are Hybrids Worth It?

Hybrids also help boost performance, so certain luxury brands have enhanced their cars to emphasize the benefit. The advantage and disadvantage of hybrid car technology is that it’s always advancing, but not always at the most affordable hybrid cars cost. 

Porshe 918, Maclaren P1, and LaFerrari are some names of hybrid models that are built with completely customized systems different from commercial brands like Toyota Priuses. 

  • Porshe 918 – Electric motor put on the front axle, gives a simulated all-wheel drive, plus a twin-turbo V8. 
  • Maclaren P1 – electric and gasoline engine integrated with a dual-clutch transmission. 
  • LaFerrari – System meant for Formula 1 racing purposes.

Cheap Hybrid Cars

These hybrid cars are not necessarily cheap but much more affordable than the luxury brands mentioned before. If you’re still wondering “are hybrid cars worth it?” the answer could very well be yes. Here are the more popular commercial brands. They all have below EPA estimated 60 mpg combined. 

  • Hyundai Ioniq 
  • Toyota Prius
  • Camry Hybrid
  • Kia Niro
  • Honda Accord Hybrid

Kinds of Hybrids

Hybrid vehicle definition and hybrid meaning differ even more to specifics of models and preference to buyers. It’s not a matter of hybrid vs gas either, it’s how they work together. Here is some specification for them:

  • Parallel Hybrid Cars – The most common type, works in parallel to gas and electric motors for car propulsion and power. 
  • Mild, Micro, or Light Hybrid Cars – Lands somewhere between a full hybrid and battery-powered electric vehicle. 
  • Plug-in Hybrid or PHEV Cars – Looks and feels like a hybrid but is a mix of an electric-powered vehicle too. It needs to be plugged into an electric power source. 
  • Series Hybrid or Range Extended Hybrid Car – Uses a gasoline engine to recharge electric motor for driving.

Pros And Cons Of Hybrid Cars

Hybrid cars’ pros and cons for ownership are varied and amazing, generally an eco-friendly decision. Some other pros include: 

  • Fuel conservation and efficiency
  • Perfect for city living, minimal greenhouse gas, and carbon emissions contribution
  • Accelerate quicker because of electric functions
  • Easy to drive
  • Tax write off in certain states for eco-friendly purchase
  • Generally don’t need to be plugged in, a full tank of gas will simply last longer because of the electric and gasoline integrated motor functions

The cons generally refer to cost and other undesirable stipulations. It’ll depend on a buyer’s set of priorities whether they’re fit for a hybrid vehicle. Some of the cons include: 

  • Buyers pay 10 to 15 percent more than with an average gasoline-powered car
  • Tax benefits are slowly being canceled depending on local and state laws
  • If buying a used hybrid car, the battery pack might need to be replaced, and although warranties can be transferred to a new owner, if expired, then the cost of replacement is up to 3000 dollars. 
  • Maintenace will generally cost more than a gasoline-powered car. 


In general, doing extensive research on hybrid car brands and history will enlighten a buyer’s journey into hybrid ownership. How these environmentally friendly cars work is fairly simple to understand, it’s mostly the cost that makes people hesitant to seal the deal. Also, buying used could be a huge risk. However, if the pros outweigh the cons, then hybrid cars are worth the overall hassle and help the world be a little less polluted.

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