The term hybrid is thrown around all the time these days, but how many of us know exactly what that means? We know it’s better for the environment (somehow?) and it’s not the same as an electric car (right?), but what does the word “hybrid” entail? Here are a couple things that might help you understand what a hybrid is and how it’s special.
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There’s More than One Type?
There’s actually 3 main different kinds of Hybrids. The simplest definition of a hybrid is a car that runs on two powers sources. In the US, this means a car that runs on gas and electric, but there’s different degrees to which this works. 
Full Hybrid
A Full Hybrid is one that uses the electric power to drive the car, while the gas engine provides the power. The gas engine never mechanically turns the wheels. These are the most fuel-efficient versions among ‘regular’ hybrids and automatically choose which mode to operate on in order to be most efficient. For example, the Toyota Prius is a full hybrid. 
Mild Hybrid
A mild hybrid is not as efficient. It has a battery and helper motor, but these never fully take over. The gas engine is still the heart of what makes it move. The Honda Integrated Motor Assist system is an example of this type. 
Lastly, there is the plug-in. This is the closest to a pure electric vehicle, and include large batteries that allow them to run on pure electric. The Chevy Volt is a plug in.
How Do They Work??
Hybrids utilize a battery pack and an electric motor with the goal of maximizing these systems, since they produce no emissions and are more efficient. Mild and full hybrids recharge on the go, so the owner doesn’t need to plug them in. Even the gas engine will burn more cleanly, since hybridization allows for a reduction of the engine displacement and potentially the number of cylinders. 
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How Are They Efficient???
This system recaptures the energy normally lost when coasting and braking. The forward motion of the tires rolling to produce electricity. Systems like automatic start/stop mean the engine is cut when idling and restarts when the accelerator is pressed. Electric motor assist allows the car to switch to the electric engine when a gas engine would be less efficient, such as at low speed.
There’s a lot more to how hybrids work, but the bottom line is that they’re fuel efficient cars that come in a range of types for different lifestyles and use two power sources achieve this. This means they are not only better for the environment, but great cost-saving vehicles in the long run. Now we’re sure you can hold a conversation with the best of them—or, at least stop looking confused.