Hybrids are electric vehicles (EVs) too. For many US consumers, a gasoline-electric hybrid has been their first experience with the electrification of transportation. Most hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) use their electric drive to augment the performance and fuel economy of their gasoline internal combustion engine (ICE). Some plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) carry a larger battery that can allow a limited amount of pure electric range, before switching to fossil-fuel power. HEVs and PHEVs can deliver a large improvement in fuel economy, primarily by capturing energy used in braking that is usually lost as heat. The energy is stored in a small battery and can be returned to offset some of the fuel required for acceleration or while climbing hills.
People in the industry tend to look at hybrids as a temporary solution, a stopgap measure prior to conversion of the transportation fleet to full battery electrics. To do so is to overlook some of the advantages a hybrid can provide in sometimes dramatically improved fuel economy over non-hybrid models. Long trips are also easy with a hybrid as there is no need to find public chargers.
With the help of information from Edmunds’ Best Hybrid Cars of 2021 and 2022, we have put together a list of 2021 hybrids—HEVs but not PHEVs—that can achieve at least 40 miles-per-gallon (mpg) combined fuel economy in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ratings. These hybrids might provide you with just enough electrification for now…. and into the future, until BEVs become the norm.
Kevin Clemens is a Senior Editor with Battery Technology.