Hybrid cars – frequently asked questions

Hybrid cars have been around for some time, but it is only relatively recently that they have become a mainstream option – therefore many drivers may still have questions about how they work, and how much they cost to buy and run. We answer some of the most common enquiries below. 

What is a hybrid car?

A hybrid car is a vehicle that uses two power sources to run – a conventional petrol or diesel engine and a battery-powered electric motor.

What is a plug-in hybrid?

A plug-in hybrid car includes a battery for the electric motor that can be charged via an outlet, as well as being charged through recycled energy. They can also run as a conventional non-plug-in hybrid when the battery is empty.

Do I need to plug a hybrid in?

No. You only need to plug a plug-in hybrid car in to an outlet when you want to top the battery up when parked.

What are alternative fuels?

‘Alternative fuels’ refers to a fuel other than petrol or diesel that is used to power a vehicle. In the case of a hybrid, the alternative fuel would be electricity.

How often do hybrid batteries need replacing?

The batteries in most hybrid cars are designed to last the lifetime of the vehicle. The car will show signs if the battery does need to be changed, such as the engine running almost constantly, including during light acceleration. Fuel economy may also drop significantly.

Can I replace a hybrid battery beyond warranty?

You can replace a hybrid car’s battery beyond warranty at an extra cost. The price will vary depending on the make and model.

Is it expensive to replace a hybrid battery?

Batteries are more costly to replace in a hybrid, but the savings in fuel expenses you will make should more than cover the extra cost. But, remember the batteries in hybrid vehicles are designed to last as long as the car itself so if very unlikely you will need to replace it. 

Can the hybrid battery be recycled?

Yes, and you should take your vehicle to your local authorised service centre for the battery to be removed and recycled safely.

What happens if my battery runs out of charge?

This won’t happen, as the hybrid system has been designed to top up the battery when the energy becomes low.

Can a hybrid car continue to run on electricity when it runs out of fuel?

No. Hybrid cars can run in full electric mode, but they are not designed to operate with no fuel in the tank. Driving with no fuel can severely damage the system.

​​Is it expensive to service and maintain a hybrid?

The costs are around the same as a conventional car when you choose an approved service centre. In fact, as less strain is placed on the engine, you may find that it is cheaper to maintain your hybrid as parts may not need to be replaced as often.

Are hybrid vehicles safe?

Every effort has been made to make hybrid cars as safe as possible. For example, they include circuit breakers to cut the electrical current if the system has been damaged in an accident. They also feature all the same active and passive safety systems as combustion cars, including ABS, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), and Electronic Stability Control (ESC).

Are hybrid cars expensive to buy?

Hybrid cars do have a higher price tag than non-hybrid equivalents, but it is important to consider the lower running costs of these vehicles. Less tax and fuel expenses can make them more affordable in the long run. 

What happens in a power cut? Will my car be affected?

Your hybrid car won't be affected, as it doesn’t need to be charged and relies on its own source of electricity from the battery.

Can I drive a hybrid with a pacemaker?

Studies have shown that it is completely safe to drive a hybrid car if you have a pacemaker.

Do hybrid car owners need to pay to use toll roads here and abroad?

Yes, but discounts often apply. For example, if your hybrid emits 75g/km of CO2 or less, you can enjoy a single 100 percent discount on the London Congestion Charge.

What hybrid models are available?

At RMB, you can purchase a selection of hybrid vehicles from Toyota & Lexus growing model range and now the new Ford Mondeo.

Need more answers?

Speak to your closest RMB Toyota, Lexus Teesside or RMB Ford dealership for answers to any more questions you have about hybrid cars and the models that are on sale.

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