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Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV)

Welcome to our page explaining the key features of the Hybrid Electric Vehicle, also known as a 'Self Charging Hybrid'.

No idea what all this jargon means? The terminology can be bewildering! We cut though the marketing mumbo jumbo for you – in 6 bite-sized chinks – so you can decide if you want a HEV to be your next vehicle.

What is a HEV? What Are The Advantages?

  1. Basic HEV Facts
  2. Is My Driving Range Limited in a HEV?
  3. HEVs Cannot be Plugged in to Charge
  4. Where Can I Make Savings?
  5. HEVs – Environmental Impact Ranking
  6. Energy: HEVs Are Powered by Petrol/Diesel

#1 Basic HEV Facts

A HEV is a Hybrid Electric Vehicle. ‘Hybrids’ have both a normal size fuel tank and a small battery.

The fuel tank provides the internal combustion engine with petrol or diesel. The engine consumes the fuel and makes the wheels go round.

The battery in the HEV powers an electric motor which can also make the wheels go round. However, as the battery is small, this type of electric vehicle can only run on electric power alone for a couple of miles and at low speeds.

HEVs can’t be plugged in, so they charge their batteries mainly by using up petrol/diesel in the internal combustion engine.

The battery also charges partly via regenerative braking – basically as you slow down, the kinetic energy is converted into extra battery energy, rather than lost to heat in the brake pads.

HEVs switch automatically between combustion and electric power, and the limited capacity battery helps to improve fuel economy and energy efficiency, while also reducing emissions around town when driving at low speeds.

Jargon alert! You will also read about series hybrids, parallel hybrids, and mild hybrids. The first two are simply versions of the HEV format, whereas the latter – also referred to as MHEVs – are not really electric cars at all. A mild hybrid, or MHEV cannot run just on the battery; its wheels are always dependent on the combustion engine.

#2 Is My Driving Range Limited in a HEV?

As HEV hybrid vehicles can’t be plugged in, you can treat them like any other petrol or diesel vehicle – just pull into a filling station when your fuel tank is running low.

There are, therefore, no battery range issues to worry about. The car’s range is largely governed by the size of the fuel tank and how efficient the car’s engine is.

Around town below about 20 mph, you can drive on battery power alone using the electric motor. You’re good for about 1-2 miles before the battery runs out of charge.

Range is mainly something to bear in mind in a plug-in electric car, sub as a Battery Electric Vehicle or Plug-in Hybrid. See our Range Guide for further details.

#3 HEVs Cannot be Plugged in to Charge

There’s a lot of confusion about HEV charging, mainly due to the way they are often advertised as ‘self-charging hybrids’. Let’s clear away the fog.

Pure electric cars (BEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) can indeed be charged by plugging into a charging point either at home, work, service station, etc.

A HEV, by contrast, has no charging socket and cannot be plugged in. How then does it charge its very small battery? How does it self-charge? It manages it in two ways:

  1. By burning petrol or diesel inside its combustion engine to generate electricity to charge the battery, and/or
  2. Via regenerative braking: a technique that all types of EV employ to convert the kinetic energy of the vehicle into battery energy when slowing down.

HEVs are also sometimes called full hybrids, especially by the UK government for some reason.

If you want more info on charging BEVs and PHEVs, check out our EV Charging Guide.

#4 Where Can I Make Savings?

As we’ve seen above, although HEVs are often classed as electric vehicles, they cannot be plugged in to charge. This means you can’t benefit from low-cost electricity to power your car – you will be buying petrol or diesel as usual.

Here are typical monthly costs for a Kia Niro HEV lease (model 1.6 GDi Hybrid 2), based on 8,000 miles per year, a 36-month term and 9 months' deposit:

Running CostsMonthly
Lease payment£258.71*
Petrol costs£69.10**
Electricity costs£0
Road tax£0
Insurance (estimate)£55.73
Total per Month£383.54

*Correct as of 2 December 2021. **Assuming petrol costs £1.14 a litre, and with an engine efficiency of 50 mpg. Breakdown cover is included for at least the first year by the manufacturer.

Want to start a conversation about hybrid electric vehicles?

Why not phone us on 0118 920 5130 or email at enquiries@selectcarleasing.co.uk

#5 HEVs – Environmental Impact Ranking

HEVs get a bronze medal when it comes to environmental impact.

BEVs secure gold – they are all-electric and zero-emission.

PHEVs get the silver medal – they have a medium-size battery and can be zero or very low emissions for up to 30 miles or so, but start polluting thereafter.

HEVs can only be filled with petrol or diesel, and so are very similar to any other type of internal combustion engine vehicle – they emit harmful gases and pollutants.

Their saving grace is that around town at low speeds they can run on battery power alone. Think of the Toyota Prius HEV taxi stopping and starting in a traffic jam. You won’t hear any engine noise until the driver speeds up or the battery runs out of charge.

#6 Energy: HEVs Are Powered by Petrol/Diesel

Unlike plug-in electric vehicles, such as a Battery Electric Vehicle or Plug-in Hybrid, driving a HEV doesn’t require any research into the best electricity tariffs.

You can’t lower your cost of motoring by charging with cheap electricity. Just fill up with petrol or diesel in the normal way.

Where to Next?

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