What is a mild hybrid car? — The ultimate guide

what is a mild hybrid car?

Hybrid cars have grown in popularity as a neat middle-ground between petrol or diesel and full electric. The 2030 switchover means hybrids will be destined to the same fate as other combustion engines. But, for now, they are still having their moment. If you’re looking to sell your car and go the hybrid route, then you may like to know about mild hybrid cars. ‘What’s a mild hybrid car?’ we hear you ask — all will be revealed.

Are mild hybrid cars the same as hybrids?

The most obvious question is whether a mild hybrid car is the same as a regular hybrid and the answer is no…but not by much. As the name suggests, the two types of hybrids are very similar, and mild hybrid technology is the same as used in full hybrids. The addition of ‘mild’, unsurprisingly, means that a mild hybrid car simply does it on a less powerful scale.

How does a mild hybrid car work?

A mild hybrid car works just like a hybrid vehicle, but the key difference is in its battery. Unlike hybrids which can have the battery alone power the car, and therefore work just like an electric car, a mild hybrid can’t. That means you’ll always be using your combustion engine alongside the battery. While this may seem counter-productive, the concept has proven popular enough for Audi, Kia, Volvo, and Ford to all offer mild hybrid models.

The mechanics of a mild hybrid work just like a full hybrid, with a battery that recharges every time the car brakes. There are no plug in mild hybrids and the battery in these cars cannot turn the wheels without the engine also running.

In terms of driving, a mild hybrid offers very little difference between a normal petrol or diesel car. In this sense, it’s more an evolution of a standard car than a reach for zero emissions. Mild hybrids, unlike electric cars, can be run in manual transmission. Ultimately, they offer the same driving experience people are used with the added power of a battery.

what is a mild hybrid car?
Mild hybrid cars are cheaper than full hybrid vehicles.

Should I buy a mild hybrid car?

Of course, this leads us to the next most obvious question — why do people buy mild hybrid instead of hybrid or full electric? There is no benefit so far as the ULEZ or congestion charge goes when it comes to mild hybrids as they are not zero emission. Plus, they don’t have the option to work purely on battery which improves fuel efficiency for those quick zips around town.  

Nonetheless, for drivers who aren’t quite ready for the electric switch, there are a few reasons to go mild hybrid:

Lower emissions

They’re not quite zero emission, but they’re better than traditional combustion engine cars without the added assistance of an electric battery. When coasting, the engine can switch off entirely and hand over to the battery to help reduce fuel consumption and, therefore, emissions.

Running costs

The addition of a battery means less work for the engine, and that allows you to save fuel. The lower running costs on a mild hybrid also include lower road tax fees due to lower CO2 emissions. For those looking for driving experience they are used to while benefiting from electric car technology, a mild hybrid is a great choice.

Cheaper than a hybrid

Mild hybrids are more affordable than hybrids or electric cars, so for some, they serve as a great compromise based on finances alone. Of course, ideally, we’d all be able to jump in an electric car and be prepared for the zero emission revolution, but practically, mild hybrids occupy a important spot on the market.

No range anxiety

As mild hybrids never run off the electric motor alone, there is no risk of being abandoned somewhere once your car battery runs out of charge. Mild hybrids run so long as their tank is full.

Popular mild hybrid cars

There are several mild hybrid cars on the market today serving as great gateway vehicles into greener driving. These include:

  • Ford Puma
  • Ford Fiesta
  • Audi A8
  • Fiat 500
  • Fiat Panda
  • Kia Sportage
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Suzuki Swift
buying mild hybrid car
Mild hybrids offer manual transmission, unlike full electric cars.

The precise mild hybrid technology in each car varies. For example, the Audi A8’s system allows for the engine to completely shut down when coasting for up to 40 seconds. This allows the battery to take over and provide better fuel economy. In other models such as the Suzuki Swift, the battery exists to assist the engine rather than replace it.

Not all cars with a mild hybrid system have been created to be environmentally friendly. The addition of a battery means more power, so in racing cars, one may be added to improve the vehicle’s performance, rather than any environmental reasons.

Is a mild hybrid car worth it?

Depending on your priorities, a mild hybrid car could be a great choice. They offer better fuel economy and lower emissions. While you won’t get the zero emissions of an electric vehicle or even of a full hybrid, it’s definitely a step in the right direction compared to a traditional car.

Because the battery can also lead to greater torque when driving, many may feel that mild hybrids allow for a smoother drive, where the engine is working noticeably less during hard acceleration.

Do mild hybrids need charging?

No. Unlike full hybrids which come with plug-in options, you do not have to charge the battery in a mild hybrid. This is mostly because the battery is smaller than a full hybrid. Its regenerative braking is enough to keep it powered. As this means you’re recharging the battery every time you brake, the small battery doesn’t need a helping hand to stay at sufficient power levels.

Are mild hybrid cars good for long distance driving?

A mild hybrid car works like a standard car, so there’s no reason you can’t undertake the same journey as you always do. The difference is that you may notice the engine works a little harder sometimes. It also gets the opportunity to switch off when you coast. Unlike full electrics which have a set electric range per charge, a mild hybrid isn’t at risk of having an empty battery stop its operations.

Looking to sell your car?

Whether you’re ready to go mild hybrid, full hybrid, or electric, let our handy guides fill you in on all you need to know!