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Hybrid Electric Vehicle Basics

August 20, 2013 - 9:13am


Photo of hands holding a battery pack (grey rectangular box) for a hybrid electric vehicle.Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) combine the benefits of high fuel economy and low emissions with the power, range, and convenience of conventional diesel and gasoline fueling. HEV technologies also have potential to be combined with alternative fuels and fuel cells to provide additional benefits. Future offerings might also include plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

Hybrid electric vehicles typically combine the internal combustion engine of a conventional vehicle with the battery and electric motor of an electric vehicle. The combination offers low emissions and convenience—HEVs never need to be plugged in.

Learn more about the components of a hybrid system.

How Does a Hybrid Electric Vehicle Work?

Hybrid electric vehicles are powered by two energy sources—an energy conversion unit (such as an internal combustion engine or fuel cell) and an energy storage device (such as batteries or ultracapacitors). The energy conversion unit can be powered by gasoline, diesel, compressed natural gas, hydrogen, or other fuels.

Hybrid electric vehicles have the potential to be two to three times more fuel-efficient than conventional vehicles.  Visit the Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center to learn more about hybrid electric vehicles.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles can be charged with electricity like pure electric vehicles and run under engine power like hybrid electric vehicles. This combination offers increased driving range with potentially large fuel savings and emissions reductions. Learn more about plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, which are still at a pre-commercial stage of development.