Self-charging hybrids: What makes them a good option for your next car
More manufacturers than ever are now launching new electric and hybrid models.
While EVs and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) are proving particularly popular, they can be inconvenient if you’re unable to charge at home or work. If that’s the case for you, regular hybrids – or ‘self-charging’ hybrids – might be a good option.
But what are the benefits? Let’s take a look.
Ease of use
As their ‘self-charging’ nature suggests, these models don’t need to be plugged in like PHEVs and EVs do. So even if you don’t have off-street parking or charging points at work, they’re still a viable option.
While not as efficient as plug-in models on paper, if used primarily around town and at lower speeds, these regular hybrids can be impressively efficient.
However, you should take the term ‘self-charging’ with a pinch of salt. You can’t park your hybrid up and return to it the next day to find it’s charged itself up – instead, the batteries are charged as you use the engine and through regenerative braking. At very slow speeds, hybrids can run just on electricity, but most of the time the engine and electrification work in tandem.
Electrified models are often chosen for their efficiency, and for the majority of self-charging hybrids, low running costs are guaranteed. While the best efficiency will be achieved in urban driving or at slow speeds, plenty of hybrids (especially smaller ones) should be cheaper to run than the petrol or diesel equivalent.
More affordable to buy
Another key benefit of choosing a self-charging hybrid is the low starting price. While still more expensive than a comparative petrol and diesel option, they’re usually much cheaper to purchase than a plug-in hybrid model, if not quite as cheap to run.
Let’s take the Kia Niro as an example, which is available as both a plug-in and self-charging hybrid. The entry-level PHEV model costs £34,075. In comparison, the normal hybrid version in the same trim would set you back £28,295 – making the self-charging model around £6,000 cheaper.
Plenty of choice
Of all the kinds of electrification, it’s ‘self-charging’ hybrids that continue to prove popular – not least due to Toyota and Lexus, which primarily sell self-charging models.
And there’s good news if you’re looking for a used car. As the technology has been around for 20 years in the UK, there’s no shortage of models to choose from. Unlike EVs and PHEVs, hybrids are available for those with all budgets, too, with versions available for as little as £3,000.
Prices correct at time of publication [03/2023].