A real alternative to 100% thermal vehicles, hybrid cars have become increasingly present on the French automotive market in recent years. With a range and technologies that are ever more extensive and efficient, the hybrid vehicle market, although growing strongly, still has a very low penetration rate (number of registrations) (4.83% in 2018) on the French market. That is, when 100 cars are registered, only 5 of these cars are hybrids.

Electric models are still far from entering the hearts of the French. Many buyers are still strongly undecided on the Green segments and more particularly on the hybrid car. Information and reassurance work must be done before the purchase process in order to answer the various questions about the use of these innovative vehicles in everyday life.

Did you know that there are two types of hybrid technologies on the automotive market? That a hybrid car is not necessarily recharged only while driving, but also directly from an external source, as is the case for an electric vehicle?

These are some of the questions we will answer in this detailed article.

What is a hybrid car?

By definition, a hybrid car is a vehicle whose propulsion is ensured by the combination of two distinct energy sources. The vehicle is both fueled by an internal combustion engine (gasoline or diesel) and by an electric motor (usually one or more electric blocks are placed under the floor or between the trunk and the rear seat). These two energy sources operate either synchronously or simultaneously, depending on the need and the type of hybridization of the vehicle.

In most cases, the gasoline engine is used to drive the vehicle's wheels. The electric motor is used to propel the vehicle at low speed in 100% electric mode and to assist the combustion engine in full acceleration.

The main interest of a hybrid car is therefore to be able to optimize driving, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by using the most appropriate energy source. Thus, a hybrid car in most cases (see the different hybrid engines), does not consume fuel when driving under 30 to 50 km/h over a short distance.

Most hybrid vehicles have a main combustion engine and a complementary electric motor. However, there are several types of hybridization and technologies available on the automotive market. There are two main levels of hybridization: the plug-in hybrid and the conventional (non-plug-in) hybrid.

Classic Hybrid:

Mild Hybrid: Also called Micro Hybrid, this technology assists the combustion engine with an alternator-starter that acts as a generator by recovering kinetic energy during braking or deceleration. The energy thus recovered is stored in a 48V battery and is then used by the starter-alternator to start the engine, cut the engine when stopped and propel the vehicle only at low speed. Representing the simplest technology and therefore the least expensive to purchase, the micro hybrid, due to its small battery, only allows for a very slight reduction in the vehicle's consumption.

Full Hybrid: With a larger battery capacity than Mild Hybrid, Full Hybrid allows 100% electric driving at low speeds and over short distances. At higher speeds, the battery capacity is not sufficient and the electric mode is replaced by the combustion engine. In a full hybrid, the two engines can be used either simultaneously or separately.

The Plug-in Hybrid :

Plug-in Hybrid: Also known as a rechargeable hybrid, this technology has a larger battery capacity than conventional hybrids, which can be recharged directly in the same way as an electric vehicle. This means that a driver will be able to recharge the hybrid's battery using a household outlet or an external charging station. The plug-in hybrid offers a range of between 20 and 60 km, which is ideal for daily travel. Beyond this distance, and therefore when the battery is completely discharged, the combustion engine takes over to continue propelling the vehicle.

How do you recharge a hybrid car?

While driving: For conventional hybrids and therefore non-rechargeable hybrids, the battery is recharged via the internal combustion engine and via the kinetic energy recovery system during braking or deceleration.

With an external power source: In addition to the kinetic energy recovery system, plug-in hybrids can be recharged directly and more quickly via a power outlet.

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Hybrids and the automotive market

Hybrid vehicles, with their numerous recharging possibilities, are becoming more and more popular on the French car market. According to the website Automobile-propre the number of hybrid vehicle registrations increased in 2018 by +30%, for a hybrid market penetration rate (total registrations) amounting to 4.83%. 

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