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How a Hybrid Automobile Works

A hybrid car knows what it is doing so you don’t have to. A hybrid is a car that uses more than one form of energy. Hybrid cars have a regular internal combustion engine with a fuel tank as well as an electric motor with a battery pack. Hybrid cars are different from electric vehicles. Hybrids still burn mostly gas, but switch to electric power that normally goes to waste in standard vehicles, explains Edmunds.com.

Gas and Electricity

Hybrids don’t rely only on a gasoline internal combustion engine as traditional cars do. Hybrids use a combination of gas and electric motors. Batteries store the electric energy. By switching to electric energy, a hybrid burns less gas. The beauty of the system is that a computer tells the hybrid when to switch from electric to gas and vice versa. The goal of hybrids is to maximize energy while providing the same comfort level and safety that you have with a traditional car, according to the HybridCars.com.

Less Pollution

With some hybrids, the car stays in the all-electric mode until you reach 15 miles per hour. Although, if you accelerate really slowly, you can stay in all-electric mode up to 30 mph. When you operate in electric mode, you burn no gas and create no polluting exhaust. A hybrid uses a smaller gas engine because it gets a boost from electricity. Most drivers don’t need a high-horsepower, high-consumption engine, according to Hybrid Cars.

No Plugging In

You don’t have to plug in a hybrid car. The batteries recharge when you brake in a system called regenerative braking. The battery absorbs some of the vehicle’s momentum when you slow down or coast downhill. When you brake, the energy from the wheels functions like a generator, converting the energy into electricity. A traditional car simply wastes this braking energy.


You can configure your hybrid to be the type of car you want it to be. For example, you can have a hybrid that gives you the greatest fuel economy or the most power, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.


The gas engine is smaller in a hybrid. But, the electric motor kicks in when you need additional power to pass someone on the highway or to climb a hill. When you come to a stop, a hybrid car’s engine shuts off. In a traditional car, you waste energy when you idle. The hybrid restarts as soon as you press the accelerator.

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