So, how does a hybrid work and how does this make it environmentally friendly? Put simply, the hybrid car uses two sources of power, instead of just the conventional petrol or diesel engine. The hybrid powertrain includes a small internal combustion engine that is assisted by an electric motor. The electric motor is powered by its own battery – increasingly a lithium-ion one as they are lighter and smaller than the batteries made of metal-nickel-hydride, so they reduce the weight of the car (and the energy required to propel it).
The electric motor assists the engine through periods of acceleration and can be used to power the car alone in some models – in all-electric mode. This means that the amount of fuel needed by the engine is reduced as the engine doesn’t have to do so much work. As well as saving you money on fuel, driving a hybrid means that you add fewer carbon dioxide emissions to the environment.
So, hybrids are eco cars as they reduce the amount of petrol necessary to move the car, at the same time as reducing the creation of exhaust pipe emissions. And with ever increasing petrol prices, owning a hybrid will save you money in the long run. Drivers in the UK also benefit from lower road tax costs as hybrids are low emission cars.
There are many different hybrid cars now on the market, and they come in all shapes and sizes. For example, the Honda Jazz is a five door hatchback and the Toyota Prius + is a people carrier which can carry seven people. The Prius + will be launched in Europe in the middle of 2012.