Hybrid vehicles have increased in popularity over the last decade, largely due to the technological advancements manufacturers have made. In the early stages, the goals of electric propulsion were more focused on lowering emissions for people interested in greener alternatives. As a result, alternative energy vehicles had less comfort and convenience features. They didn’t perform like traditional gas-powered cars and lacked the exterior style people craved.
Manufacturers such as Hyundai listened and today offer a lineup of hybrid vehicles like the Sonata Hybrid, a spacious, comfortable sedan loaded with the latest in-vehicle tech. The Sonata Hybrid powertrain also delivers impressive performance while reducing emissions and improving efficiency. However, some drivers wonder if a hybrid car is meant for them. For that reason, we had our experts put together this blog that explains how hybrid technology works and the benefits you can enjoy.
What Is a Hybrid Vehicle?
Image via Flickr by MSVG
As the name implies, a hybrid vehicle blends two propulsion systems — the internal combustion engine and electric motors. Depending on the manufacturer, you have several types of hybrid systems available.
Parallel Hybrid Systems
Manufacturers often use a parallel hybrid system but typically just call it a hybrid vehicle. Parallel hybrid systems use an electric motor alongside the internal combustion engine to propel the vehicle. These hybrid cars have a separate rechargeable lithium-ion battery that powers the electric motor.
A parallel hybrid system works in three ways. First, you can operate in electric-only mode for maximum efficiency. Second, you can use gas and electricity simultaneously for longer driving ranges. Third, you can use only the gas engine, which drivers typically rely on once the electric motor’s battery gets depleted.
Most drivers considering an EV gravitate toward this type of hybrid first because they know they can always rely upon gasoline power. Even with the rise of charging stations, you know there’s a gas station on nearly every corner, so you’ll never find yourself stranded.
Like the Sonata Hybrid, newer hybrids have intelligent systems that distribute power according to driving situations. However, the Sonata Hybrid uses more electrical power at lower speeds for efficient operations. In addition, the Sonata Hybrid uses regenerative braking and a glass roof embedded with solar panels to capture electricity and return it to the battery for later use.
Range Extender Hybrid Systems
These hybrid vehicles use smaller electric motors and batteries than full hybrids. This type of engineering doesn’t improve efficiency so much as it provides an extra boost to the engine. As a result, you get an increased driving range with these hybrid systems compared to their gas-only counterparts.
Plug-In Hybrid Systems
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles such as the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid work the same as hybrid vehicles. However, they typically have more powerful electric motors and higher-capacity batteries. Not to mention, you must plug these batteries in to recharge fully. PHEVs can travel much farther on electric-only power due to these larger battery packs. In many cases, 30 miles or more can be achieved without engaging the gas engine.
Series Hybrid Systems
Series hybrid systems represent the smallest portion of the hybrid vehicle segment. This type of system uses an electric motor or motors powered by a battery to move the vehicle. Series hybrids have an internal combustion engine, but this engine has no connection to the drivetrain. The gas engine only serves to recharge the battery. However, it cannot provide a full charge. As a result, you only see an extended driving range.
Pros and Cons of a Hybrid Powertrain
When comparing hybrid vehicles to a gas-only powertrain, the pros far outstrip the cons. Here’s why.
Pros of a Hybrid Powertrain
Adding an electric motor and battery that can propel your vehicle without engaging the gas engine increases the car’s efficiency, thus saving you money at the pump with less frequent fill-ups. In the Sonata Hybrid’s case, you get impressive economy ratings of up to 50 mpg in the city, 54 mpg on the highway, and 52 mpg combined.
Hybrid vehicles produce fewer emissions than naturally aspirated gas engines, thus making them better for the environment. In addition, hybrid cars like the Sonata Hybrid offer the best efficiency to those who do very little highway driving because they use electricity at lower speeds without the need for gas power. Not to mention the tax incentives of owning a hybrid or electric vehicle.
Hybrid vehicles have better acceleration than gas-only vehicles. Electric motors provide nearly instantaneous torque, resulting in higher speeds achieved in less time. While you’ll notice the more responsive throttle, you won’t see a difference in driving dynamics with hybrids. They handle and respond the same as traditional cars because they have the same steering, suspension, and safety systems.
Your driving range isn’t a concern with hybrids because you can always fuel up at a gas station. This fact alone entices people to switch to hybrid power. What’s more, the federal government offers a tax credit up to $7,500, saving you even more money.
Cons of a Hybrid Powertrain
In the early years of hybrid vehicles, their price tags were much higher than their gas equivalents. However, more and more manufacturers have realized production savings that have closed this price gap. For example, the Sonata Hybrid starts at $27,350, while the gas-only Sonata starts at $24,500. You likely save money purchasing a hybrid vehicle when you factor in the tax incentive and fuel savings. In addition, many state and local governments offer additional incentives, such as high-occupancy-vehicle lane access, preferred parking, and tax breaks, further offsetting the higher price tag.
Components that make up a hybrid powertrain cost more money, especially the battery. On average, a new lithium-ion battery costs several thousand dollars to replace. You’ll want a good battery warranty such as Hyundai’s 10-year/100,000-mile guarantee. You’re covered if anything goes wrong with your Sonata Hybrid’s battery.
Explore the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Today
Huffines Hyundai McKinney understands what drivers want in a hybrid powertrain. As a result, we stock an expansive inventory of hybrid vehicles like the Sonata Hybrid. If you’re ready to make the switch, you can start browsing our inventory online. Then, when you’re prepared for a personal demonstration, you can stop by our McKinney showroom on North Central Expressway. One of our hybrid experts will show you the different models and let you take your favorite for a test drive.