Hybrid Car Batteries & Charging Explained

If you have recently become the owner of a hybrid car or you simply want to know the answers to some of the most asked questions on hybrid batteries, this guide will look to help you. From charging hybrid cars to their duration and costs – learn everything you need to know about hybrid car batteries.

Do hybrid cars need to be charged?

Yes. However, while hybrid cars are known for using two different energy sources (a combustion engine and an electric battery) they don’t all charge the same way. In a self-charging hybrid car, the internal combustion engine drives a generator that recharges the battery as you drive. The battery is also charged using regenerative braking, which captures waste energy as the car slows down. They don’t need to be plugged into a main to be recharged. A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) can self-charge to some extent and also benefits from regenerative braking, but as the name indicates, it needs to be plugged into a charging point to fully charge the battery.

Discover more on how to charge a hybrid car:

Charging plug-in hybrids

Can you charge a hybrid car at home?

The simplest, but slowest, way to charge your plug-in hybrid is to connect the car to a standard 3-pin socket using a special cable called an EVSE. With this, you can charge your plug-in hybrid car at home by connecting to your domestic power supply just like a mobile phone. You could also have a hybrid charging station installed at home which will increase charge speeds. For those without off-street parking some local authorities are installing on-street hybrid charging stations.

What is a hybrid charging station?

Though called a hybrid charging ‘station’, these clusters of charging bays are thankfully far less busy than petrol station forecourts. They can often be found in the corner of motorway services or attached to supermarket car parks. With the constant rise in hybrid and electric vehicles on our roads today, hybrid charging stations continue to be built and grow in popularity. You can find these by using a map of charging points for plug-in hybrid and electric cars.

How long does it take to charge a hybrid car?

The time it takes to charge a plug-in hybrid depends on the size of the battery, how much energy has been used and the power output of the hybrid charging station. The power output is measured in kilowatts (kW). Generally, there are four types of charging available:

-Slow (up to 3kW)
-Fast (7-22kW)
-Rapid (25-99kW)
-Ultra-rapid (100-350kW)

The slowest chargers will have a plug-in hybrid fully charged in around 5 hours. These are usually the most affordable units and are ideal for charging overnight or while you’re at work.

How much does it cost to charge a hybrid car?

The cost to charge your hybrid car will vary depending on where you are. Public charging points can often come at a small cost that is far less than filling a car with petrol or diesel.

Do plug-in hybrids charge while driving?

While plug-in hybrids do charge while driving, this is nominal and will never completely replenish the battery. A plug-in hybrid’s bigger battery means it can drive for longer, it also means that a plug-in will need a hybrid charging station or another power source to completely replenish the battery.

What happens if you don’t charge a hybrid?

Whether it’s self-charging or a plug-in – all hybrids run on their petrol or diesel engines even if the battery is depleted. That means if you’re unsure where to charge a hybrid car while travelling, you won’t be stuck when the battery runs dry. In contrast, running out of fuel will affect hybrids differently. If driving a self-charging mild hybrid, you will not be able to drive without fuel. In a full hybrid you will come to a stop after a short distance, typically 0.6 miles or so - as the battery holds a small amount of charge. But, in a plug-in, you will be able to run on electric power longer, with a typical range of 19 miles to 50 miles if fully charged.

Can you charge a hybrid car in the rain?

Yes, you can charge a hybrid car in the rain – that’s because hybrid cars are designed to withstand rain and water intrusion. Whether it’s charging, driving or keeping your hands warm, your plug-in or self-charging hybrid will continue to operate safely in wet weather.

Hybrid Car Batteries Explained

What is a hybrid car battery made of?

A hybrid car battery is either a nickel-metal hydride or lithium-ion type. Though lithium-ion batteries are becoming the more common hybrid battery types as they are:

• Less toxic
• Better at retaining charge while not in use
• Of high performance even in high temperatures
• Can be recharged rapidly
• Are lighter in weight

The lithium-ion hybrid car battery is also becoming more affordable as technology advances.

What is a hybrid battery’s size?

Depending on the type of hybrid you have the size of the hybrid battery can vary – for example, a plug-in hybrid has a larger battery than a self-charging model. Older batteries may also be different in terms of physical size and storage.

What is the average hybrid car battery weight?

While the weight of a hybrid battery can vary, the average is roughly 53.5kg. Though for vehicles with larger batteries this number can increase significantly.

What’s good hybrid car battery maintenance practice?

Regularly servicing your vehicle is always important for hybrid car battery maintenance. Other ways you can improve the battery life of hybrid cars include:

• Regularly drain the battery and avoid recharging to 100% capacity
• Regularly use your vehicle (even on short journeys) to maintain a healthy battery
• Avoid exposure to the battery from high temperatures or extreme heat when parking
• Refrain from using fast charging unless completely necessary

The slowest chargers will have a plug-in hybrid fully charged in around 5 hours. These are usually the most affordable units and are ideal for charging overnight or while you’re at work.

How much does it cost to charge a hybrid car?

The cost to charge your hybrid car will vary depending on where you are. Public charging points can often come at a small cost that is far less than filling a car with petrol or diesel.

Do hybrid cars have any battery problems?

The technology behind hybrid car batteries is constantly advancing so problems are few. But, buyers may want to consider that, like all batteries, those in hybrid cars do have a lifespan and can begin to degrade with significant usage, as all vehicles do.

How to test hybrid car batteries?

If you’re concerned about the battery life of your hybrid car some tests can be done. One of the easiest ways to test your battery’s health is to have it serviced by a specialist. One way to determine if your battery is degrading without having a professional test is to look at your fuel usage. If the battery is dying, then your mile per litre will reduce due to more energy being drawn from the combustion engine.

How long do hybrid batteries last?

Most hybrid manufacturers advise the average battery life in hybrid cars is around 77,671 miles to 99,419 miles but with proper maintenance, it’s not uncommon for them to last longer. For the average person, this should be 6-to-10 years.

How do I get my hybrid battery changed?

While you can purchase a hybrid replacement battery outright it’s not recommended to install it yourself. Visiting a specialist garage is the safest way to replace a hybrid car battery. This can ensure the old battery is properly disposed of.

Are hybrid car batteries recyclable?

Yes – hybrid car batteries are recyclable and are expected to be recycled after use. Most professional garages should have a process for correctly recycling lithium-ion batteries as part of their hybrid battery disposal process.

How far can hybrid cars go on electricity?

A plug-in hybrid car’s battery range is roughly 19 miles to 50 miles when fully charged, depending on driving conditions and style. This is higher than a standard hybrid’s range due to the larger battery size, but it may require charging afterwards.

How many miles can a hybrid go?

Generally, hybrid cars are more fuel efficient than standard petrol cars so can get more miles per litre. This depends on your make, model and how your driving style takes advantage of a hybrid car’s unique features such as regenerative braking.

What happens when a hybrid car runs out of battery?

When a hybrid car runs out of battery it will begin using the combustion engine which may return some power but likely not enough to fully recharge the battery. Your fuel consumption may also increase while the battery is recharging.

If a hybrid battery dies can you still drive the car?

If the hybrid battery dies completely then you will not be able to drive, and a replacement battery will need to be installed.