What is a Self-Charging/Mild Hybrid (MHEV) Vehicle?

One of the most common misconceptions is that all hybrids are the same, but that is not true. In the automotive industry, the term ‘hybrid car’ will generally mean one of two things; a plug-in hybrid or a self-charging hybrid/mild-hybrid (MHEV).

You may have seen a stream of adverts, publications, social posts, billboards, and more from different manufacturers such as Toyota or Honda where they talk about self-charging hybrids and wondered what exactly does this mean, and how do they actually differ from an EV.

Self-charging hybrid is a term used by manufacturers to describe a model of vehicle that mixes petrol or diesel engines with electric power. They’re billed as a self-charging car because unlike their plug-in hybrid variant, you do not need to plug them in to top up your electric range. Instead, this car will top up the battery of the car while you’re on the move.

How do self-charging hybrids work?

Self-charging hybrids work by having some of the power from the motor continuously charging the battery to keep it at optimum levels. Some hybrids, depending on the make and model, will use a system called regenerative braking which helps recover the kinetic energy created while slowing down to recharge the battery. Because the system is completely autonomous, that’s how they get the name ‘self-charging hybrids'.

How do I drive a self-charging hybrid?

With no need to plug this car in, you simply drive as you would a conventional petrol or diesel car. You will need to refuel as you would at a fuel station and they require the same level of care and maintenance as any ordinary car. Other EVs on the market such as Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) are popular because of their lower maintenance costs overtime; however, they tend to have more of an upfront cost.

As the system is designed to assist the engine at different times while you’re out on the road, you will notice a reduction in engine noise which will result in a smoother, quieter, and more efficient drive in your self-charging hybrid, similar to a fully electric vehicle.

​Why should I buy a self-charging hybrid?

Thinking of making the switch to a self-charging hybrid? Here are a few reasons why you should:

Reduced Fuel Costs                                        

When opting for a hybrid vehicle, on average they will use 30% less fuel per mile than conventional fuel-powered vehicles. This means you can save more on your fuel costs by opting for a self-charging hybrid, but without the range anxiety that comes with a battery-electric vehicle.

Fewer emissions

One of the biggest selling points for any electric or hybrid vehicle on the market is that they have fewer emissions. When we compare self-charging vehicles with their petrol and diesel counterparts, they generally emit around 33 tonnes, whereas combustion fuel vehicles will emit around 40 tonnes. 

Affordable EV

Now that hybrid technology is more mainstream, these vehicles have become more affordable and one of the main reasons for people being undecided when it comes to EVs is the cost. Generally, battery electric vehicles tend to be the most expensive, so if you want to help the environment but also want a cost-effective option, a self-charging hybrid is perfect for you. Hybrids are also available in a wider variety than ever before such as the Fiat 500, Suzuki Swace, Renault Clio E-Tech, Toyota C-HR, and Honda HR-V.

Fewer Changes to Driving Habits

Hybrid cars require very few changes to your driving habits; especially because you don’t always need to find a charging point to park by, you just refuel as normal and maintain the car as you would any ordinary car. A major hurdle for electric vehicles has been range anxiety, with earlier models only being able to travel less than 100 miles before topping up. Over the years, technology has improved and they are capable of covering a higher range now however, range anxiety still lingers. The clue is in the name – self-charging hybrids don’t need to be topped up with electricity.

What do I need to consider before opting for a mild hybrid?

With everything, there are always a few things you need to consider and be aware of before you buy. If you’re looking to be able to travel further on all-electric power only, then a self-charging vehicle is not going to be the best option for you. Plug-In hybrids can achieve a range of 30-50 miles on all-electric power before the conventional engine kicks in.

When driving at higher speeds, such as on the motorway, self-hybrids have less of an opportunity to regenerate power so will be more reliant on the petrol or diesel engine for long periods of time. With that, it can outweigh some of the economical benefits so many may feel there’s really no difference to a traditional combustion engine car.

Hybrids vs Battery Electric

The electric car world is constantly changing and evolving, and there are still some mixed opinions on the variants out there which are no surprise as all motorists have ever known are petrol and diesel cars.

If you’re ready to make the switch to electric, but don’t want to give it the full commitment then a self-charging/mild hybrid electric vehicle might be the best option out there for you. At Donnelly Group, we have a range of mild-hybrid electric vehicles available from our manufactures, get in touch with our team today and talk to our electric vehicle experts - find a showroom near you!