What Types of Hybrid Cars Are There?

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There’s More Than One Type of Hybrid Technology

When most buyers think about hybrid cars, they think about the Toyota Prius. While it was one of the first on the market and it’s a sales hit for Toyota, it’s not the only hybrid available. There are dozens of options, and they offer different levels of performance and efficiency.

A hybrid vehicle uses a combination of gasoline and electricity to power its various systems and propel itself. The gasoline-powered side is an internal combustion engine, while the electrified powertrain consists of batteries, electric motors, and generators. The combination is used most effectively to dramatically increase fuel economy and lower tailpipe emissions. Compared to similar gas-only cars, hybrid cars will typically have greatly enhanced fuel efficiency in city driving and slightly higher EPA highway mileage figures.

The U.S. hybrid market spans from vehicles with auto stop-start technology to battery-electric cars with small gasoline engines that extend their range. The vehicles most commonly associated with the term hybrid, such as the Prius, fall somewhere in the middle.

Generally, the larger the battery capacity installed in the car, the more capable the hybrid system, and the better fuel economy and emission improvements are.

There have been numerous stories in the news about how some manufacturers are going to completely electrify their lineups in the coming years. That doesn’t mean that they are going to 100 percent battery-electric cars. What it means is that all of their cars will use some level of hybrid drivetrain or be all-electric.

On the following pages, we’ll look at the various types of hybrid cars available in the U.S. market, followed by an example of a car using each technology.

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