Mild-hybrid cars are getting popular, and one might already be in your garage. It doesn’t require plugging your car into the wall, and it drives just like a regular non-hybrid car, but with benefits in performance and efficiency.
Let’s take a closer look at what a mild hybrid is, whether you already drive one, and a few examples of mild hybrids on the market today.
What is a Mild Hybrid?
A mild hybrid is a vehicle that uses an electrical system to power the auxiliary functions of the car. It’s usually a 48-volt system that powers things like the starter, USB ports inside the vehicle, and the interior lights.
Although a mild-hybrid system does not assist in powering the wheels of the car, it takes some of the duties away from the gas engine to make it more efficient. Many mild-hybrid systems add a slight boost in horsepower and torque without any fuel economy penalty.
What is the Difference Between Hybrid and Mild Hybrid?
A conventional hybrid like a Toyota Prius uses a gas engine mated to an electric motor to power the car’s wheels. The result is typically drastically improved fuel economy compared to a non-hybrid counterpart. Many hybrids can drive in reverse or at low parking lot speeds without the gas engine kicking in at all.
A mild hybrid, however, solely uses a gas engine to power the wheels. A mild hybrid requires less effort from the gas engine for auxiliary functions like the starter. Adding a mild-hybrid system to an engine doesn’t dramatically improve fuel economy, but it brings minor improvements to efficiency that can add up to serious fuel cost savings over time.
Here’s an example of how a mild hybrid can help improve fuel economy. Many cars with a mild-hybrid system have an automatic start and stop function. The engine turns off automatically while you’re at a stop light. for example. When the light turns green, and you hit the accelerator pedal, the 48-volt electrical system under the hood restarts the engine without wasting gas. You save a little fuel every time this process takes place, and those fuel savings add up.
Is My Car a Mild Hybrid?
Mild-hybrid cars, trucks, and SUVs are hiding in plain sight everywhere. Some popular examples include Ram trucks and Jeep SUVs with the eTorque system, GM vehicles with the eAssist system, Honda hybrids with Integrated Motor Assist, some Land Rover SUVs, and most new cars and SUVs from the Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo brands. If you drive any of these, then you may be driving a mild hybrid without knowing it.
Mild hybrids are a great option in the growing variety of electrified cars. If a full hybrid or an electric car doesn’t quite fit with your lifestyle, then a mild hybrid can be an excellent way to help you save some fuel.