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What is a Hybrid Car and How Does It Work?

Chris Hopkins
Oct 27, 2022 2:02:03 PM

Australians spend an average of 48 minutes daily in their cars—that's 216 hours commuting. You want to do it in style. Or at least comfort. Is a hybrid vehicle the right choice? Hybrid cars are incredibly versatile and reliable, but is it the best car for you in 2022? Read on to discover why hybrid vehicles might become Australia's favourite car.

What Is a Hybrid Car?


You might have heard the term 'hybrid car' flung around, but what exactly does it mean? There are several variants of hybrid vehicles. Broadly speaking, a hybrid car uses a traditional internal combustion engine and at least one electric motor to run.

  • Full Hybrid Car: Also referred to as a FHEV, the full hybrid is the original. It was made highly popular by Toyota hybrid cars. It can run on its petrol engine or use battery electricity, or a mix of both. It recharges, or 'self-charges', the battery with regenerative braking.
  • Plug-in Hybrid Car: PHEVs are similar to full hybrids. Likewise, it can use its combustion engine, electric motors, or both. However, the main difference is that PHEVs can charge their batteries directly from grid energy. Like a traditional EV, you plug your hybrid into a power source to recharge. Theoretically, you can drive a PHEV like an EV-only vehicle for short distances.
  • Mild Hybrid Car: Mild hybrids cannot use the electric motor alone to run. Instead, it must run in conjunction with the petrol-powered engine. Therefore, the car uses a lower fuel consumption and emissions.

Hybrid Car Market 2022


EVs and hybrids are stereotyped as expensive and limited. However, in Australia, 30 different electric models are available this year, with 28 hybrid variants. It's true; there is less choice than the petrol car range offers. Yet, the hybrid car market is quickly growing—EVs now take up 2.4% of nationwide new car sales.

So, what can you expect when buying a hybrid in 2022? Toyota hybrid cars still lead the way with their classic Prius hybrid and the newer, in-demand RAV4 Hybrid. That said, many other manufacturers offer competitive vehicles to consider beyond Toyota's ten high-performing hybrids.

Check out our top 10 Hybrid Cars. 

Hyundai, Subaru, and Kia have entered the hybrid market in recent years. With practical, affordable, and family-friendly EVs of all shapes and sizes, you're sure to find a hybrid vehicle to fall in love with.

How Much Do Hybrid Cars Cost?


Hybrids and EVs use emerging technology that costs more than traditional internal combustion engines. There is no escaping the fact that hybrid vehicles will cost more upfront. However, that isn't to say hybrids are entirely unaffordable. In fact, there are plenty of cheap and reliable hybrid options.

In reality, you could expect to pay anywhere between $27,395 for a Toyota Corolla Hybrid to $195,325 for the Lexus LS. While luxury hybrids and EVs are at the top of most budgets, many hybrids sit around the $30,000 mark, making them excellent family-friendly choices.

Why Buy a Hybrid Car?


Are you convinced that a hybrid car is the right choice? While EVs aren't for everyone, there are plenty of reasons why you might consider a hybrid in 2022. Hybrids are strong competitors with long-lasting technology, low emissions, and running costs.

1.    Time-Tested Technology

Sure, EVs have been on the scene in some shape or form for about 35 years now. However, many car buyers might still consider hybrid technology a new thing. In fact, the Toyota Prius debuted over 20 years ago—hybrid technology is time-tested and reliable. Most manufacturers incorporate hybrid models into their ranges.

You don't need to worry about trialling a new piece of tech. Hybrids are just as dependable as fully electric cars or traditional petrol engines. Manufacturers have long since smoothed out all the kinks and issues.

2.    Range of Used Hybrids

We mentioned that the higher costs of hybrids and EVs might put many car buyers off. Hybrid cars indeed cost more than traditional petrol engines. Yet, you don't have to pay the big bucks for your dream hybrid vehicle.

With more than 20 years of history, there is now a sizable and stable used car market for hybrids. As with any used car purchase, you must ensure the car is reliable and worth the cost. There are plenty of excellent deals out there. However, as the most expensive part of EVs and hybrids is the battery, you'll want to check that your used battery has plenty of years of life left.

3.    Government Incentives to Buy Electric

As the world pushes for increased sustainable travel, you may notice governments offering incentives to purchase electric or hybrid vehicles. With reduced fuel emissions, hybrid cars are better for the environment.

Countries across the globe are committed to driving electric cars only within the next ten to fifteen years. While Australia has not made such a pledge, several state governments offer grants and subsidies to help car buyers purchase electric vehicles. It's worth researching available financial support that might significantly help your hybrid car purchase.

4.    Low Running Costs

If affordability is one of the most significant factors in your car purchase decision, consider running costs. While hybrid vehicles may cost more upfront, they are often cheaper to run. You'll find your monthly expenses significantly reduced without regularly paying for expensive fuel.

Plus, EV motors are far more straightforward than combustion engines. With fewer moving parts, they're less likely to break and need expensive maintenance and repairs.

However, it's worth bearing in mind that hybrid vehicles are only cheap to run if you treat them as EVs. Fully or mild hybrid cars might still cost you a lot in fuel (although still perhaps less than a full petrol or diesel engine). On the other hand, if you use plug-in hybrid vehicles for short-distance driving, you'll notice a significant reduction in car-related expenses.

So, while you may pay more upfront, you'll save money in the long run.

5.    Fewer Emissions

Whether you have a full hybrid, mild hybrid, or plug-in, you should emit fewer tailgate emissions. For the environmentally-conscious car buyer, hybrid vehicles are the perfect choice if you're hesitant about switching to a fully electric car.

In their lifetime, hybrid vehicles will emit an average of 28 tonnes CO2. Comparatively, petrol and diesel produce 39 and 41 respectively. While it's not net zero, it's a significant improvement.

Moreover, you can treat a plug-in hybrid as an EV (which only produces an average of 3.8 tonnes CO2). You may never need to use the internal combustion engine with short city runs. Therefore, you'll keep your costs down and travel sustainably.

Drawbacks of Hybrid Cars in 2022?

Switching to EVs is a significant choice, even if you compromise with a hybrid. They aren't for everyone. Here are a few disadvantages to consider.

1.    High Car Prices

As mentioned, hybrid car prices are higher than traditional petrol or diesel vehicles—the cheapest new hybrid costs just over $27,000 in 2022. Comparatively, you could easily pay $15,000 for a new petrol vehicle. While lower running costs will help justify the extra $10,000, paying for a brand-new hybrid can be challenging.

Fortunately, we're here to help you finance your dream car. Speak to one of our expert car finance brokers today to discover how to secure the funds to purchase a brand-new hybrid vehicle.

2.    Waiting Lists

While the hybrid car market has exploded in recent years, there are still fewer models than the petrol or diesel ranges. The latest Toyota RAV4 is so popular in Australia that prospective car buyers must join a waiting list to get their hands on the model.

Of course, with such high demand levels, you can trust you'll purchase a good car. But, unfortunately, you might have to wait 12 months before you can call the RAV4 Hybrid yours. If the wait is too long, consider other hybrid options available.

3.    Long-Distance Driving

Hybrid cars are best for short-distance city driving. While you can use your petrol or diesel engine to go further distances, you'll lose many benefits of driving a hybrid. For cheaper running costs, greater sustainability, and more enjoyable driving, hybrids are at their best when on the city streets.

Consider how you will use your car. If you plan to take great long road trips across Australia, you may prefer a traditional internal combustion engine. However, if you're looking for a compact, zippy vehicle with the flexibility to go further afield, the hybrid might be perfect.

Financing Your New Hybrid Car 2022

Purchasing a new car is exciting. With that fresh car smell, the intrigue of testing out new features, and the satisfaction of a smooth, enjoyable ride, there is nothing quite like it. If you have set your sights on a new hybrid vehicle, consider all your car financing options.

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