DRIVEN EXPLAINS PART 2: What is a hybrid?
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The term hybrid has been commonly used now for almost 20 years.
First associated with the Toyota Prius, its technology and terminology is finally becoming normal, and a synonym for fuel saving technology. Officially titled a Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV), what makes it so appealing and long-lasting?
A HEV uses a normal petrol engine assisted by a hybrid electric motor and battery, working together to reduce fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions. Setting off at low speeds and light load, the hybrid powertrain typically uses only its electric motor and battery for vehicle movement.
When more performance or speed is called upon, the electric motor is assisted by the petrol engine, with a switch that’s seamless to the point of being almost imperceptible.
Many HEVs use a form of energy monitor and Toyota was a key pioneer with a screen showing where the energy is coming from and going to at any time, between the battery, electric motor, petrol engine and wheels.
The beauty of hybrid is that its batteries recharge while moving, through either kinetic energy and regenerative braking, driving downhill on a grade steep enough to recoup charge or the petrol engine assisting charge.
Toyota has a large range of HEVs within its models, including the Yaris, Yaris Cross, C-HR, Corolla, Camry, RAV4, Highlander and even using the hybrid technology in the Prius Prime PHEV.
Hybrid has also made its way into successful motorsport, too, with the hybrid Gazoo Racing racecars winning the Le Mans 24 Hour race for the last four years. Not a bad progression since that first Prius.