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Guide to hybrid cars: how they work, charging times, driving experience, etc.

Guide to hybrid cars: how they work, charging times, driving experience, etc.

Hybrid Car Guide

Hybrid cars are increasingly popular with drivers, especially given how much money they allow you to save on fuel. But how exactly does a hybrid car work?

BMW West Islandtakes the time to answer all of your questions about these vehicles and invites you to take a look at our current BMW offers , in Montreal, close to Laval.

What exactly does "hybrid" mean, for a car?

The word "hybrid" refers to the combination of two elements; so, what exactly does this mean when it comes to a car? This simply refers to the fact that there are two different types of motorisations being used, rather than just one.

The heat engine or the combustion engine, which is commonly referred to as the "fuel engine", is coupled with an electric motor that is battery operated. So, the powertrain utilizes these three elements, as well as a computer that manages both the heat engine and the electric motor.

Would you like to find out more about how the electric vehicles from the German brand work? Discover all of the latest BMW news !

Different types of hybrids

Essentially, hybrid powertrains fall into two large categories: regular hybrids and plug-in hybrids. In the first case, the battery charges itself, through regenerative breaking and the heat engine.

In this first category, we might sometimes use the term "mild hybrid", which really refers to a low capacity battery. This option will often be used by manufacturers looking to add extra power to a performance model, while wanting to keep fuel consumption numbers reasonable.

The plug-in hybrid, however, utilizes a battery with greater capacity. This means that the electric motor can be used independently from the heat engine. As its name indicates, the vehicle possesses a battery that must be charged, since the fuel engine is not sufficient in and of itself to regenerate the energy being used.

2022 BMW X3 xDrive30e

How does a hybrid car work?

The computer that is integrated into hybrid vehicles manages how the fuel engine and the electric motor are being used, without you even having to think about it. If you are wondering about how exactly a hybrid car works, read on below to get a clearer idea.

In certain driving situations, both the engine and the motor will be used at the same time, like when accelerating or going up hills, for example. Are you driving slowly across the city? In that case, the electric motor will take charge; the same thing happens when stopping/starting, where it takes over too.

The computer identifies these situations where the heat engine offers a lower fuel efficiency, in order to optimize fuel consumption. When at a higher speed, like on the highway for example, both engine and motor can work in concert, or the heat engine can take over too and work alone as well.

Finally, when decreasing in speed or when braking, the kinetic energy is recuperated by the electric motor, which will then feed the battery in order to charge it.

In the case of a plug-in hybrid car, it works similarly. However, the electric motor takes on more responsibility and the battery cannot be fully charged by regenerative braking alone. In order to better understand how an electric motor works, take a look at our electric vehicle guide.

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How to drive a plug-in hybrid?

You have probably understood that a -non plug-in- hybrid car is to be driven the exact same way as a regular fuel engine car, and requires no intervention whatsoever. So, how to drive a plug-in hybrid? It isn't much more complicated either.

2022 BMW X5

In fact, you can let the computer do the work for you, or you can choose to influence your plug-in hybrid by selecting the driving modes yourself. There are three different modes you can select from: an electric mode, a hybrid mode and a fuel mode.

In full electric mode, BMW plug-in hybridshave an electric range that can reach up to 50 km (X5 model)!

Electric mode will be the preferred mode when starting the car or when driving in the city, while the fuel engine will be at its best on the highway, where it is more efficient, in order to preserve the electric energy.

How to charge a plug-in hybrid?

Just like for an electric car, the plug-in hybrid must be fed by an outside source. How to charge a plug-in hybrid car at home? In fact, it can be plugged into a regular domestic 120 volt outlet. It is also possible to have a 240 volt charging station installed, which will allow you to charge your vehicle 3 to 5 times faster.

While you are out on the road, several public charging stations will allow you to plug and charge your vehicle. Special parking spaces are specifically reserved for electric or plug-in vehicles, where you will be able to charge your battery.

How much does it cost to charge a plug-in hybrid car?

At home, charging costs simply correspond to the cost of the electricity being used. In average, the cost is estimated as follows: $ 2 of electricity should allow you to regain around 100 km of electric range.

How much does charging your plug-in hybrid cost on a public charging station? Two types of fees can be applied: fee per charging session, which is around $ 2.50, or fee per hour. On 240 volt charging stations, one hour usually allows you to recuperate at least 30 to 40 km of electric range, and will cost you anywhere between $ 0 to $ 3 /hr.


In short, hybrid cars can be broken into different categoriesand utilize energy in an autonomous way, while plug-in hybrids will allow you to take charge by selecting your driving mode, should you wish to do so. With inexpensive charging costs and significant fuel economy, safe to say they are both excellent options!

Are you interested in purchasing a hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicle in Montreal? Book your own BMW hybrid with us , in the West Island of Montreal, close to Laval, and get a car financing plan that is perfectly customized to your needs.

2022 BMW X3 xDrive30d

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