What Types of Hybrid Cars Are There?

BMW X3
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Auto Stop-Start

Auto stop-start technology is becoming an increasingly popular way for carmakers to wring a bit more efficiency out of their conventional engines. When you approach a stop, the car’s gasoline-powered internal combustion engine shuts off, while the car’s lights and other electric functions remain powered by the vehicle’s battery.

In cars with automatic transmissions, as soon as you move your foot off the brake, the vehicle restarts, reengages the transmission, and begins to move. Manual transmission-equipped cars use the driver’s depressing the clutch pedal to put the car in gear as the signal to restart the engine. In the best stop-start-equipped cars, the process is almost imperceptible. In others, though, it takes a second or so for the car to get going again.

Because the engine is not running while you’re stopped, you can potentially save a bit of fuel and send a little less pollution out your tailpipe. Estimates range from as little as zero gain in highway driving to a few-percent efficiency gain in city driving, though there is no consensus on specific improvements.

Vehicles with stop-start (sometimes called idle-stop) technology have upgraded starters and batteries designed to survive up to 100 times the number of starting cycles a traditional setup is expected to perform.

Since electric power never propels the vehicle, many experts don't consider them hybrids at all.

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