6 Types of Hybrid Cars and Their Features Explained

Types of hybrid cars are full, mild, plug-in, parallel, series, and dual-mode hybrid cars.

These types are classified based on mode of hybridization and operation. The description of each type is given in this article; as follows;





-Based on Mode of Hybridization

1). Full Hybrid as one of the Types of Hybrid Cars

Full hybrids can be considered one of the most efficient types of hybrid cars.

They are unique for their ability to switch completely from one power supply system to another.

Like all hybrid cars, these vehicles are equipped with multiple power technologies such as the combustion engine (that performs fuel combustion), fuel cell (that uses compressed or liquid hydrogen), and battery system.

However, other types of hybrid cars usually utilize these power sources in combination with (and in support of) each other. For example, the electric motor (powered by the battery system) may provide torque and acceleration to start the car while the combustion engine may be used to sustain motion [5].

In a full hybrid car, rather than function as auxiliary or supportive components, each of the power technologies is capable of working independently to propel and sustain the car. This means that each of these technologies must have a higher capacity and efficiency than in other types of hybrid cars.

Examples of full hybrid cars include Honda Accord, Toyota Auris and Toyota Prius.

Types of Hybrid Cars : Full Hybrid (Credit: Rutger van der Maar 2009 .CC BY 2.0.)
Types of Hybrid Cars : Full Hybrid (Credit: Rutger van der Maar 2009 .CC BY 2.0.)


2). Mild Hybrid as one of the Types of Hybrid Cars

In a mild hybrid car, the various power technologies are always functioning as auxiliary units which support each other.

Unlike the full hybrid car which can be operated either as a gasoline car or and electric vehicle at various times, a mild hybrid car is not capable of relying entirely on one power supply system.

Essentially, the internal combustion engine (ICE) in a mild hybrid car, is supported by the electric motor and battery system [3]. The vehicle may not function as an all-electric at any given time.

Often, the battery system in mild hybrid has a low capacity relative to other types of hybrid cars. Based on manner of operation, mild hybrids can also be described as battery-assisted hybrid vehicles (BAHVs).

Also, because the battery system cannot independently support the vehicle, it usually carries out specific functions, such as initial acceleration, and accessory support.

Mild hybrid differs from other types of hybrid cars in its inability to rely solely on any of its multiple power sources. However, this type of hybrid often depends more on its combustion engine. The battery system is also usually recharged by regenerative braking alone.


3). Plug-in Hybrid

A plug-in hybrid car (PHV or PHEV) is a hybrid vehicle which can be charged externally by plugging it to the mains [6].

Compared to other types of hybrid cars, these vehicles are usually equipped with high-capacity battery systems that can store large amounts of power on each recharge. The battery system in a plug-in hybrid vehicle is designed to achieve energy conservation and efficiency.

Another way to describe a plug-in hybrid, is as a combination of a full hybrid and an electric vehicle. This is because it possesses some of the typical attributes of both types, including efficient power switching and high power-storage capacity.

Examples of plug-in hybrid cars include Kia Optima, McLaren P1, Ford C-Max Energi, Audi A2 E-Tron, and Porsche Cayenne S.


-Based on Mode of Operation

The configuration of the parts of a hybrid car determines its mode of operation. Types of hybrid cars based on component-configuration and mode of operation are; parallel, series and series-parallel or dual-mode hybrid cars.


4). Parallel Hybrid as one of the Types of Hybrid Cars

A parallel hybrid is a hybrid vehicle in which the internal combustion engine (ICE) and the electric motor are both connected in parallel to the transmission system or gearbox [4].

It is a type of full hybrid car, meaning that it can be operated either as a gasoline car or an all-electric car at any given time.

As a result of parallel configuration, each of the power sources of the vehicle is directly connected to the transmission and can propel the wheels [9]. This results in a flexible and reliable mode of operation compared to other types of hybrid cars.

Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata and Honda Accord are examples which fall within this category.

Types of Hybrid Cars: Parallel Hybrid Internal Configuration (Credit: LHOON 2006 .CC BY-SA 2.5.)
Types of Hybrid Cars: Parallel Hybrid Internal Configuration (Credit: LHOON 2006 .CC BY-SA 2.5.)


5). Series Hybrid as one of the Types of Hybrid Cars

In a series hybrid car, the internal combustion engine drives an electricity-generation mechanism which supplies power directly to the electric motor [1].

This mode of operation is the result of a series connection between the internal combustion engine, electric motor and transmission that links the engine directly to the motor, and the motor to the transmission.

In terms of its operation, a series hybrid car functions like a battery electric vehicle (BEV), since the wheels are driven solely by the electric motor.

Depending on overall design and specific needs, the means by which power is generated using energy from fuel combustion in the engine may vary.

In simpler setups, the electric motor itself acts as a generator, so that when heat energy is supplied from the engine, it converts this to mechanical energy which is then used to generate electricity through the electromagnetic effect.

Other, more elaborate configurations may feature an actual electric generator which is connected to the combustion engine and serves as an auxiliary power unit (APU) [8].

Examples of series hybrid cars include Kia Optia, Chevrolet Volt, and BMW i3.


Types of Hybrid Cars: Series Hybrid Powertrain (Credit: Aquarius Engines 2016 .CC BY-SA 4.0.)
Types of Hybrid Cars: Series Hybrid Powertrain (Credit: Aquarius Engines 2016 .CC BY-SA 4.0.)


6). Dual-Mode Hybrid

The dual mode (or two-mode) hybrid car can operate either as a full hybrid vehicle, or an automatic variable-acceleration vehicle at any given time [2].  

This is due to a series-parallel internal configuration whereby the transmission may operate either in series or in parallel with the combustion engine and battery.

Selection of series or hybrid operation in these vehicles is usually automatic and depends on the instantaneous needs of the car.

The two-mode hybrid car may incorporate the transmission, electric motor and engine within a compound, unified hybrid setup [7]. This setup results in improved fuel and energy efficiency, while minimizing gaseous emissions.



Types of hybrid cars are;

  1. Full Hybrid
  2. Mild Hybrid
  3. Plug-in Hybrid
  4. Parallel Hybrid
  5. Series Hybrid
  6. Dual-Mode Hybrid



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2). Christine; Gable, S. (2018). “The Two-Mode Hybrid.” Available at: https://www.treehugger.com/what-is-a-two-mode-hybrid-85455. (Accessed 21 June 2022).

3). Donateo, T. (2012). “Intelligent Usage of Internal Combustion Engines in Hybrid Electric Vehicles.” Internal Combustion Engines” (pp.133-160)Edition: 2012. Available at: https://doi.org/10.5772/48120. (Accessed 21 June 2022).

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5). Pavković, D.; Cipek, M.; Plavac, F.; Karlušić, J.; Krznar, M. (2022). “Internal Combustion Engine Starting and Torque Boosting Control System Design with Vibration Active Damping Features for a P0 Mild Hybrid Vehicle Configuration.” Energies 15(Paper No. 1311). Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/en15041311. (Accessed 21 June 2022).

6). Singh, H.; Ambikapathy, A.; Logavani, K.; Prasad, G. A.; Thangavel, S. (2021). “Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs).” Electric Vehicles (pp.53-72). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-9251-5_3. (Accessed 21 June 2022).

7). Yang, Y.; Ali, K. A.; Roeleveld. J.; Emadi, A. (2016). “State-of-the-art electrified powertrains – hybrid, plug-in, and electric vehicles.” International Journal of Powertrains 5(1):1. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1504/IJPT.2016.075181. (Accessed 21 June 2022).

8). Yongpeng, S.; He, Z.; Liu, D.; Xu. B. (2016). “Optimization of Fuel Consumption and Emissions for Auxiliary Power Unit Based on Multi-Objective Optimization Model.” Energies 9(2):90. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/en9020090. (Accessed 21 June 2022).

9). Zia, F. (2017). “Design and Fabrication of Parallel Hybrid Car.” Available at: https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.20204.59527. (Accessed 21 June 2022).

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