Hybrid cars: traditional vehicles with electrical support
Inside a hybrid car, you will find both a gas-powered engine and an electric unit designed to work together. The idea is as follows: the electric motor serves as backup for the combustion engine, decreasing the stress on the latter and thereby lowering fuel consumption. So how are hybrid cars charged? The small onboard battery recharges during braking or deceleration by converting speed into energy. Hybrid cars still depend primarily on fossil fuels: the range of these vehicles when driven in 100% electric mode rarely exceeds a few kilometers.
Rechargeable hybrid cars: the true energy stepping stone
Rechargeable hybrid cars, sometimes referred to as PHEVs (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles), aim to address that issue. Such is the case of the new Renault Captur E-TECH Plug-in. How does it work? A battery with a larger capacity is integrated into the chassis, and a socket is added to allow for independent charging via domestic outlets or standard charging stations. In this way, the electric motor becomes a true alternative to the combustion-powered engine for the majority of everyday travel. Nevertheless, the use of the combustion-powered engine remains an option for covering long distances, for example on road trips. The difference between hybrid vehicles and rechargeable hybrid vehicles is that only the latter can be charged at an outlet, allowing for more use of electrical power and therefore a longer electric range.
Hybrid vehicles with range extenders: a battery pack in your car
Another option is to use an electric battery and motor for everyday driving, and to add a small combustion-powered engine designed to keep them charged: this is called an extended-range electric vehicle. In this case, the hybrid is much closer to being 100% electric than 100% combustion-powered: electricity is the main source of “fuel.” For vehicles of this type, the battery has a large capacity and can be recharged at a charging station. These cars are able to run on electrical power for everyday use, without producing any exhaust fumes. The combustion engine acts only as a support, operating in a manner similar to that of a power generator. Its only purpose is to extend the range by recharging the battery, never to provide power directly to the wheels (unlike in traditional hybrid vehicles and rechargeable hybrid cars.)