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With all the discussions regarding environmental policies and climate change going on right now, ‘hybrid’ is a buzz word. Many say that hybrid vehicles are better for the environment and that generally, all cars are heading towards becoming more electric. But while everyone is discussing why hybrids and electric vehicles (EVs) are such a great idea, no one is discussing what they actually are or how they get you where you're trying to go.

To make a complicated explanation simple, hybrid cars are vehicles that rely on two different sources of energy. The vast majority of hybrids in North America are electric hybrids, meaning that they run partly on gas and partly on electricity. This means that the vehicle has both an electric motor and a conventional engine. Depending on the situation, the car may solely run on the electric motor or the engine, but in most cases, the two would work together to power the vehicle.

Pickering Honda - How Do Hybrid Cars Work?

How Do Hybrid Cars Work?

Hybrids are thought of as environmentally friendly because, like electric cars, they save on gas by using the electric motor instead of the internal combustion engine, and as a result, manufacturers are able to improve the car's fuel economy. Decreasing the amount of fuel the car uses is better for the environment because it cuts down on your use of fossil fuels (which are already being rapidly depleted) and limits the emissions of CO2, a major contributor to climate change.

Hybrids also save on gas and energy through regenerative braking. In a hybrid, when you press down on the brake pedal, it sends the electric motor in reverse. By doing this, not only do the wheels slow down, but the motor actually acts as an electric generator and creates energy for the car. This means that instead of the car using energy to stop itself, it recharges the motor’s battery while braking.

Pickering Honda - How Do Hybrid Cars Work?

Types of Hybrids

Vehicles that have both electric motors and gasoline engines usually fall into one of two categories: hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

  • Hybrids (HEVs): A conventional hybrid mostly uses its gasoline engine as the main source of fuel, while the electric motor only really kicks in during acceleration and deceleration. Traditional hybrids don’t need to be plugged in since the vehicle’s engine (which requires gas) provides energy to the car’s electric motor.
  • Plug-In Hybrids (PHEVs): A plug-in hybrid runs mostly using its electric motor and only uses the engine to provide additional power to the motor when its battery is dying or if the car is speeding up/slowing down. This type of hybrid does need to be plugged in and, as a result, is more fuel efficient than a traditional hybrid. PHEVs can be charged either at a charging station or at home using a standard electrical outlet. Hybrids generally take between two and five hours to charge in a 240V outlet (outlets available at charging stations are usually 240V), or four to ten hours to charge in a 120V outlet (standard home outlets are 120V).
Pickering Honda - How Do Hybrid Cars Work?

Currently, Honda has three hybrids (all of which are offered at Pickering Honda for our customers in Pickering and Ajax): the Accord, the Insight, and the Clarity Plug-In. The Accord and the Insight are both traditional hybrids, while the Clarity is a plug-in hybrid (which makes it eligible for Federal Tax Incentives of up to $5000). For more information on these vehicles, give us a call at 905-831-5400 or check out our inventory here.

Hybrids can be a great option since they’re both environmentally friendly and help you save money on gas. They may be slightly pricier than their gas-powered counterparts, but the rebate offered by the Canadian government on plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles can definitely level the playing field. Overall, a hybrid can definitely be a great option if you’re in the market for a new car.