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How Do Hybrid Cars Work?

2022 INFINITI Q50 Hybrid


A common question we get here at INFINITI of Downtown LA — especially now that the INFINITI Direct Response Hybrid ® technology has rolled out in models like the INFINITI Q50 — is “How do hybrid cars work?” We even sometimes field questions about what hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), or “hybrids” for short, are. Let’s take a closer look at the answers to both of these questions below so that if you’re new to the world of hybrids and EVs, you can get access to the information you need!



What Is a Hybrid Car & How Does It Work?

So, what is a hybrid car and how does it work? Essentially, if you haven’t already guessed based on the name “hybrid electric vehicle,” hybrids combine two fuel sources. While at least in theory, there can be many types of hybrids, most are in fact HEVs, combining electricity and gasoline as their two energy sources.

How hybrid cars work is by combining a traditional internal combustion engine with an electric battery pack. In hybrid systems, the two work in union to decrease fuel consumption, and there’s no need to charge them up because technologies that use regenerative power collection (i.e. regenerative braking) charge the battery.

Parallel Hybrid vs. Series Hybrid Vehicles

With all of the above having been said, there are two main types of hybrids, parallel and series hybrids. Here’s information on each type:

Parallel Hybrid

The majority of hybrids you’ll find on Glendale and Downey roads are parallel hybrids. These hybrids use an electric motor and a gasoline engine that are each connected to the transmission. They work by combining both power sources.

Series Hybrid

Series hybrids use an electric motor paired with a gasoline engine like parallel hybrids, but only the electric motor is paired with the transmission. In these types of hybrid electric vehicle, the electric motor is the sole source of power and the gasoline engine acts as a generator to charge the electric motor and provide range-extending capabilities.

How Hybrid Cars vs. Plug-In Hybrid Cars Work

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) otherwise known as simply plug-in hybrids, are a unique class of hybrid electric vehicles that, instead of running on the combined power of a gasoline engine and electric battery, use electric power only, up until that runs out, at which point, the gasoline motor kicks in. Here are some benefits of plug-in hybrids:

  • Plug-in hybrids can go further on electric power alone.
  • For short distances around Van Nuys, you can use a plug-in hybrid much like you’d drive a standard full battery electric vehicle (BEV) — that is, relying on 100% electric power and then recharging the vehicle overnight or in between drives.
  • If you’ll be heading out on a longer trip that exceeds the electric driving range of a PHEV, you can fill up on gasoline like you would with a conventional car.
  • Because they don’t rely just on electricity, plug-in hybrid cars generally take only between 1 and 4 hours to fully charge.


The INFINITI Direct Response Hybrid system “runs on a combination of the gas engine, lithium-ion battery, and electric motor—whichever is best for driving conditions—to deliver the perfect balance of power and efficiency.”

Discover Hybrid Power with INFINITI of Downtown LA

Ready to learn more about hybrids and how they work or the new INFINITI Q50 Hybrid? Call 213-927-5029 or contact us online now. Ready to see how much you could make by trading in your gas guzzler for a new hybrid? We can help!

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