Tech: How Do Hybrid Batteries Recharge?

A Primer on Hybrid Battery Care

This text might comprise affiliate hyperlinks.

When the primary gasoline-electric hybrids autos started arriving in 1999 and 2000, early adopters did their analysis and have been fairly educated concerning the then-new and revolutionary transportation mode.

However the mass market was confused; these new automobiles had an extra battery to supply electrical energy to an electrical motor. For the uninformed, the query was: Does the battery should be plugged in to a hybrid car charger?

Hybrid & Plug-in hybrid batteries
When hybrids appeared most used nickel-metal-hydride batteries

This query was such an enormous roadblock for rising gross sales that Toyota started an promoting marketing campaign for the Prius that clearly emphasised that plugging in was not obligatory. Simply often refill the gasoline tank and drive away.

Quick-forward about 10 years and a brand new sort of hybrid got here on the scene—the plug-in hybrid, and it does require plugging in to cost the onboard battery to maximise effectivity (with out plugging in it features like a traditional hybrid).

So, what’s the distinction between the 2 several types of hybrid autos? Right here’s a short overview.

Common Hybrids

Common hybrids recharge their onboard nickel-metal hydride or lithium-ion battery packs by reclaiming vitality by way of a course of referred to as regenerative braking. Throughout coasting or braking, the electrical motor that drives the wheels is electrically operated in reverse and acts as a generator. It takes with kinetic vitality that might usually be misplaced as warmth by way of conventional mechanical friction brakes and shops it as electrical vitality within the battery.

As well as, when within the generator mode, the interior combustion (often gasoline) engine costs the battery pack.

Plug-in Hybrids

Hybrid & Plug-in hybrid batteries
As larger batteries have been wanted for plug-in hybrids, lithium-ion has grow to be the battery of selection

Common hybrids will be pushed brief distances at speeds as much as 40 miles on battery energy alone, however plug-in hybrids can drive, relying on make and mannequin, wherever from 15 to 53 miles utilizing solely electrical energy. That is achieved by utilizing a a lot bigger, extra highly effective lithium-ion battery pack. However it must be plugged in to {an electrical} outlet to take care of the electric-only vary.

This characteristic permits the car to carry out like a pure electrical automotive and fewer like a standard gasoline automotive, all of the whereas delivering distinctive gasoline mileage.

As for plugging in to cost the battery, there are 4 choices:

  • Normal 120-volt family outlet with a charging time of three to eight hours, relying on car.
  • A 220-volt house charging system cuts charging time by half or extra.
  • Public charging stations occasions are equal or lower than 220-volt house charging programs.
  • Quick-charging with a DC charger (with suitable autos) can lower the cost time to a half hour or much less.
2023 Toyota Prius
To plug or to not plug–that’s the selection

Plug-in hybrids present many of the advantages of an electrical automotive, whereas sustaining the effectivity and driving vary of an everyday hybrid, which eliminates the “vary nervousness” of pure electrical autos. Plug-in hybrid drivers can journey in an all-electric mode for the overwhelming majority of typical native driving. When the battery’s electrical cost is depleted, the standard hybrid system powers the automotive till the following alternative to plug in and recharge the batteries.

There are decisions now within the hybrid world and the shopping for public is studying to dwell with each varieties.

[Ed. note: Larry originally wrote this in 2016, but since Toyota is still advertising about its hybrid “that doesn’t need to be plugged in,” we thought it was worth updating and repeating.]

Among the high decisions amongst hybrids and plug-in hybrids we’ve examined:

Street Take a look at: 2022 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Flash Drive: 2023 Toyota Prius Hybrid

Street Take a look at: 2022 Ford F-150 Hybrid

Street Take a look at: 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Plug-in Hybrid

Flash Drive: 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid

Street Take a look at: 2022 Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid