Hybrid Cars in Ireland: How Do They Work?

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Laurel over a hybrid car driving on a windy road

With concerns over climate change rising globally and fossil fuel prices spiralling upwards, citizens are looking to reduce their carbon footprint. Consequently, private transportation methods have come under scrutiny. As such, we delve into the best and cheapest hybrid cars in Ireland. Find out if they can save you money while still helping the environment.

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What Is a Hybrid Car?

EV car

A hybrid car is defined as a car that runs off more than one method of propulsion. This usually means combining a fossil-fuel run engine (petrol or diesel), with an electrically powered system.

How Is a Hybrid Different from an Electric Car?

In contrast, electric cars depend solely on electrical propulsion and have no alternative fuel source should their battery run out. There is no denying that electric cars are cleaner and reap greater cost savings from fuel, but their range is more limited. If you regularly have to drive longer distances, then a hybrid car may be a better choice for you.

What is a Plug-In Hybrid Car?

In Ireland, plug-in hybrid cars and electric cars are normally charged at home. While technically you could just plug your car directly into the mains through a regular socket, we don’t recommend it for safety reasons. Your plug-in hybrid will also charge much faster if you charge it through a suitable charging station.

Charging stations can be installed by ESB and come in two different charging speeds, so make sure you opt for one which will leave your battery fully charged for when you need it.

Some workplaces in Ireland also provide plug-in points, and Ireland has a well-developed infrastructure of free plug-on points. You can check this map to see if there are any near you. However, we do not recommend depending on free public charging points, as they may be occupied or malfunctioning when you most need them.

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How Does a Hybrid Car Work?

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As mentioned above, a hybrid car works in a slightly different way to both purely electric and petrol cars. Like an electric car, a hybrid car will have a battery but instead of being charged through an EV charging point or a home charger, the hybrid car's battery is charged through regenerative braking and through normal internal combustion process. This allows for the car to run more efficiently without needing to refuel so often.

What Is Regenerative Braking?

Regenerative braking is one of the two ways a hybrid car will charge its battery (the other being the internal combustion). When braking a car, it uses up fuel that is then lost which decreases efficiency. With regenerative braking, the lost fuel is redirected to charging the hybrid car's battery instead.

What Types of Hybrid Cars Are There?

There are a number of different hybrid car types that you can buy. One of them, the plug-hybrid car, we've already mentioned, but there are also a couple of others:

  1. Parallel Hybrid Car
    A parallel hybrid is the most common type of hybrid car you can get. It is simply a car in which the transmission system is shared between two different sources of energy rather than one. You can get these as manual or automatics but the most common is to use the power-split continuously variable transmission (CVT) to allow for better fuel economy.
  2. Series Hybrid Car
    In a series hybrid car, the connection between the engine and the wheels is entirely powered by the electric motor and the fuel engine is designed to charge the battery for that motor. This gives the driving experience of an electric car while still using a fossil-fuel engine.
  3. Mild Hybrid Car
    In a mild hybrid car, the electric motor isn't capable of moving the car all by itself even in short distances and is just there to ensure fuel economy. Mild hybrids aren't that popular and they don't in fact provide the same benefits as other hybrid cars.

What Are the Benefits of Hybrid Cars?

A blue box outline

While becoming more affordable all the time, hybrid cars are still nowhere near as cheap as the more economical petrol or diesel-run cars. So if you’re willing to shell out that bit more to do your bit for the environment, what exactly are the benefits of a hybrid car?

  • Better for City-Driving
    Hybrids are even more efficient and well-suited to driving in the city, due to the stop-and-go nature of driving there.

  • Better Resale Value
    Take a look at any second-hand car listings and you’ll see that you can still take back a decent amount of the initial investment when it comes to time to sell your car.

  • Drive More Efficiently
    Although many of us know that cars get better mileage when we accelerate and brake gently, hybrid cars actually show you on the display that this is true. This can lead to you driving more efficiently.

  • Environmentally Friendly
    On average, hybrid cars use 30% - 60% less fossil fuel than regular petrol-powered cars, meaning 30% - 60% less harmful emissions.

  • Fast Take-Off
    Like electric cars, hybrid cars have instant torque, which translates to speeding away swiftly when the light goes green, leaving petrol and diesel cars in your dust.

  • Quieter
    Hybrid cars are silent when the engine isn’t running. Therefore, you’ll no longer be contributing to urban noise pollution.

  • Less Maintenance
    Hybrid cars require less maintenance as there is less wear and tear on the diesel/petrol engine as it is turned off when the car is stopped or driving slowly. This means fewer parts moving and fewer oil changes.

  • Long-Distance Range
    Hybrid cars maintain the benefits of a petrol car in the sense that they can easily be re-fuelled and thus driven for long-distance trips.

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What Are the Disadvantages of a Hybrid Car?

As much as we wish it were so, it’s not all sunshine and ecological rainbows when it comes to hybrid cars. Below we detail some issues that may crop up with hybrid cars.

  • Hybrid Cars Have Two Batteries
    Hybrid cars have a smaller battery to power accessories such as lights. These batteries can still be drained and need a jump start.

  • More Expensive Initially
    There is no denying that until technology catches up and becomes cheaper, hybrid cars will continue to carry a heftier price tag than their less environmentally friendly counterparts.

  • Not All Hybrids Are Created Equal
    While there are many advantages in general to having a hybrid car, this also depends on the quality of the vehicle you buy. Some hybrid cars, for example, cannot run heat and air-conditioning on the electric system alone, so the temperature control shuts off when the car stops at a traffic light. A massive inconvenience come wintertime.

  • Less Efficiency on the Motorway
    As hybrid cars are designed to work more efficiently in the cities, you won’t see much improvement if you tend to drive mostly on the motorway.

  • Performance
    Hybrid cars are built to be efficient, not racing cars. They don’t have exotic tuned suspensions and flat out are slower when compared to regular cars. If it’s high-performance you’re looking for, then you may be better off with a regular sports car.

  • Grants
    As of 2022 hybrid cars don’t qualify for the tax breaks and the SEAI grants that electric cars have.

  • Quieter
    Even though quieter cars offer a nicer drive, manufacturers have had to start adding noise to hybrid cars due to an increase in incidents of pedestrians stepping in front of them as they didn’t hear them coming.

Which Is the Best Hybrid Car To Buy?

There are a lot of factors to consider when determining which is the best hybrid car, budget, comfort, efficiency, and much more. To answer this question we have averaged the rating from top hybrid car models of reputed test driving magazines; Top Gear, Autocar, and Car & Driver reviews. Eye up our list of the top hybrid cars in Ireland before you make any decisions.

Car
Hybrid/Plug-in hybrid?
Rating*
Pricing from:

Toyota Yaris

Hybrid

7/10

€23,990

BMW 330e

Plug-in hybrid

8/10

€48,895

Lexus RX450h

Hybrid

6.5/10

€91,245

Kia Niro

Plug-in hybrid

6.6/10

€39,495

Mitsubishi Outlander

Plug-in hybrid

6.3/10

€44,679

Toyota C-HR

Hybrid

7/10

€32,870

Honda CR-V

Hybrid

8/10

€51,000

Do Hybrid Cars Save You Money?

Three stacks of bank notes and various piles of coins

To answer this question, you’ll need to take into account whether you’ll be using your hybrid card mainly for city driving (more efficient and therefore lower fuel costs) or for driving long distances or using motorways.

Unlike electric cars, the higher costs of buying hybrid cars are not easily offset by fuel savings. You may want to read up on how much fuel savings drivers make when considering a particular type of hybrid, then apply that to your yearly fuel costs and see how many years it would take you to recover the price difference.

If cost-effectiveness is your main priority, then you should consider buying a car second-hand and/or look into purchasing a plug-in hybrid.

Are Hybrid Cars Worth Buying?

man thinking

Before considering buying a hybrid car, figure out whether you wish to purchase a “regular” hybrid or a plug-in hybrid. Regular hybrid cars power their electric motor and recharge their battery using regenerative braking. In regular hybrid cars the electric motor can work alongside the petrol or gas-fuelled motor or allow it to turn off altogether (e.g. when stopped in traffic).

Plug-in-hybrids, however, can be charged from the mains. This also means that they have more power stored in their battery and can drive further on electricity alone. Depending on which plug-in hybrid you opt for, the range may be enough that you never have to turn on your petrol/diesel engine for your daily commute, yet still have the option of a backup fuel engine for occasional longer trips.

With plug in-hybrids, unlike regular hybrid cars, due to the lower cost of electricity to power your cars, it is entirely likely that you could save some money. Plus, the option of switching to a petrol or diesel tank solves the issue of range that all-electric cars suffer from.

Remember that if you purchase a plug-in hybrid, you will also need a charging station for it, whereas with a regular hybrid you only need to worry about fuel.

The services and products mentioned on this website may only represent a small selection of the options available to you. Selectra encourages you to carry out your own research and seek advice if necessary before making any decisions. We may receive commission from selected partner providers on sales of some products and/or services mentioned within this website. Our website is free to use, and the commission we receive does not affect our opinion or the information we provide.

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