We know that getting a new car is a big decision and when you’re looking at different fuel types, especially ones you’re not used to it can be confusing one as well, which is why we’ve put together this article to help you understand the different types of hybrid cars that are available so you can decide if one is right for you.

You can also contact our team on 0330 221 0000 if you have any questions about our hybrid leasing deals and which would be the best fit for you.

What Are the Different Types of Hybrid Cars?

There are three main types of hybrid vehicles available in the UK:

  • Cars using mild hybrid technology
  • Self-charging hybrids (also known as hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) or full hybrids)
  • Plug-in hybrids (PHEVS)

In this article, we’ll look at each of these as well as the benefits and drawbacks to help you decide if a hybrid is the right choice for you, and which type you need.

If you want to learn more about electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids then we have also got a dedicated electric guides section that you might want to take a look at.

What is a Mild Hybrid?

A mild hybrid is a car that uses hybrid technology to boost your vehicle’s performance, improve fuel economy and recaptures energy that would usually be lost through regenerative braking. They do not have an electric only range as this type of hybrid uses the electric system to support the internal combustion engine (ICE) rather than replacing it and provides extra power at critical driving moments.

What Are the Benefits of a Mild Hybrid?

The main appeal of a car using mild hybrid technology is that it is the most similar to a traditional petrol or diesel vehicle. This means there won’t be as much of an adjustment for drivers in terms of adapting their driving habits, managing charging the vehicle and concerns they may have about the mileage range.

Additionally, using less fuel will reduce your emissions which will help reduce your carbon footprint and improve the air quality in the area you’re travelling.

The technology required to install a mild hybrid system is cheaper and easier to put in place than other types of hybrids which means that the vehicles themselves will be cheaper to purchase and lease.

What Are the Drawbacks of a Mild Hybrid?

As a mild hybrid does not have an electric only range it will not have as significant an impact on your fuel usage and efficiency as a self-charging or PHEV model. This means you won’t save as much money as you potentially could at the fuel pump.

Without a fully electric range, a mild hybrid will not qualify for some of the financial incentives that other models do. For example, you will not be able to get a lower company car tax rate on a mild hybrid as it does not have an electric range.

Whilst you won’t need to make as much of an adjustment to your lifestyle and driving as you would with other types of hybrids there may be some changes you need to make in order to optimise features like the regenerative braking.

What is a Self-Charging Hybrid?

A self-charging hybrid is one that you do not have to plug into a charger to externally charge the battery, instead it will recharge as you drive through energy recapture technology and the combustion engine.

A lot of self-charging hybrids will use similar technology to mild hybrids to help retain energy that might otherwise have been lost but also have larger batteries which means that they can offer you an electric only powered range as well. Some of these hybrids will limit the electric powered range to lower speeds to maximise the potential distance it offers while others will allow you to drive on electric power until the battery is depleted and then switch over to the ICE.

What Are the Benefits of a Self-Charging Hybrid?

The most obvious benefit of a self-charging hybrid is that you do not need to plug it in to charge the electric system. This makes it a great choice for drivers who are unable to have a home charging unit installed or who are particularly worried about their ability to regularly charge the vehicle.

A lot of self-charging hybrids have an electric powered range, which means that you’ll be able to benefit from some of the incentives like lower company car tax rates.

Again, a self-charging hybrid has fewer emissions than a petrol or diesel model which means that you’ll reduce your impact on the air quality in the area you’re driving. Additionally, lower emissions can mean lower road tax if you’re liable to pay that. (Leaseholders will not pay company car tax to the government but if the amount the vehicle is taxed by changes from the initial tax payment then they will be charged the difference by the funder.)

What Are the Drawbacks of a Self-Charging Hybrid?

As they need to have an internal charging system self-charging hybrids will have smaller batteries than a PHEV, which means the electric powered range will be smaller. A smaller electric range will reduce the savings you’ll get in terms of lower company car tax, road tax and similar incentives. 

phev for understanding hybrids

What is a PHEV?

A PHEV is a hybrid that you need to plug into an external charger in order to recharge the battery for the electric system.

What Are the Benefits of a PHEV?

As there is no need for the car to recharge itself there is room in a PHEV for a larger battery which means if you’re looking for a hybrid with a large mileage range then a PHEV is what you want to go for.

Another benefit of PHEV requiring charging is that when you do make the jump to a full EV then it will be less of an adjustment because you’ll have already introduced some of the necessary changes into your life with a PHEV.

With the longest mileage range, a PHEV will offer you the best fuel efficiency and usage provided that you regularly charge the electric component. It will also offer you the best road tax and company car tax rates available for hybrids as these are also based on the electric range of a hybrid.

Just as you do with other types of hybrids driving a PHEV will reduce your emissions, reducing your carbon footprint and impact on the air quality in the area you’re driving.

What Are the Drawbacks of a PHEV?

As it cannot self-charge you will need to plug a PHEV into an external charger to be able to use the electric system. This will mean either having a home charger unit installed or working out how to fit regular usage of public chargers into your life, which is often one of the biggest challenges for drivers switching to an EV.  Charging a PHEV is something you need to be sure you’re able to do before you take one as you will not get any benefit from the electric system without regularly charging it.

What Hybrid is Right for Me?

Deciding on the right kind of hybrid for you, or even whether a hybrid is the right choice at all, is a personal decision and only you can make it. However, we hope to provide our customers with all the information they need to make an informed decision and our team is available on 0330 221 0000 to answer any questions you might have.


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