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The First Timer’s Guide to Hybrid Cars Australia

With sales of greener and cleaner cars trending upwards in Australia, you may find yourself wondering about Hybrid cars. Sunshine Coast buyers have a range of options available but if you’re a first timer, you may be unsure about whether this is the right choice for you. 

What is a Hybrid car?

Hybrid cars Australia wide combine traditional combustion engines with more environmentally friendly electric engines to power vehicles.  The two main types are Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV).  Having said that, Hybrid cars can also differ in the way in which the combustion and electric engines operate together to power the car.

  • “Series-Parallel” Hybrid design – where the two types of engines are combined and operate independently or in tandem to both charge the electric motor battery and drive the wheels, as per Toyota’s Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs);
  • “Parallel” Hybrid design where the electric motor assists the combustion engine to decrease fuel usage but does not drive the wheels directly;
  • “Series” Hybrid design where the two types of motors operate independently, with the combustion engine purely recharging the electric motor battery; and
  • “Plug-in” Hybrids (PHEVs) in series-parallel design where the car will switch to combustion only once the battery is exhausted and the car must be plugged in to fully recharge the battery.

There are ever increasing variations on the types of Hybrid systems as manufacturers respond to the accelerated shift towards a more environmentally friendly future.

Toyota leads the world in developing the first mass produced fully integrated Hybrid car – where the vehicle combines both sources of power and charges its own battery whilst driving.  In the 20 years since the inception of a Hybrid vehicle market, Toyota has proven their Hybrid vehicle performance and reliability in Australian conditions and worldwide.  

How do Hybrid cars work?

A true Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) automatically switches between combustion and electric engines as required and recharges the electric motor battery during the course of its operation.  The battery that powers the electric engine is charged by capturing the energy produced through the braking process and the combustion engine as it is driven.  Both motors are used to drive the wheels of the vehicle.

The Toyota Hybrid system can operate both engines independently or in combination to reduce fuel consumption.  While stationary or driving at low speeds the car uses the electric engine (producing no carbon emissions) and the combustion engine then kicks in to provide the extra power for high acceleration, cruising at higher speeds and to recharge the battery if required.

What is the difference between a Hybrid Vehicle (HEV) and an Electric Vehicle (EV)?

Electric cars have electric motors instead of the traditional fossil fuel powered motors.  They rely purely on battery stored energy to power the vehicle and the car must be “plugged in” to charge the battery.  An EV produces no carbon emissions and requires no combustible fuel like petrol or diesel.  However, the vehicle range is limited in comparison to a conventional or Hybrid vehicle.  The time required to recharge the battery can vary from 30 minutes to many hours depending on the “plug in” option used (or available).  If you intend travelling extended distances, then you would need to plan your journey around stopping to recharge the car battery.  

A HEV has two motors – electric and combustion which work together to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.  The battery that powers the electric motor is recharged by way of regenerative braking and the combustion engine itself.  There is never any need to stop and “plug in” to recharge the electric motor battery.

Do you have to "plug in" a Hybrid car?

There is neither the need or ability to “plug in” a HEV car with a parallel Hybrid system like the Toyota Hybrid System.  Ordinary use of the Hybrid vehicle will recharge the battery. However, the PHEV (plug-in Hybrid) vehicles on the market use the electric engine exclusively for a limited range (around 50 km) before switching to the conventional combustion engine and the battery is only fully recharged when the car is plugged in to a charging station.

How does a Hybrid car charge a battery?

The HEV system contains an electric generator which converts energy generated by the rotation of the car wheels while braking (regenerative braking) and transfers that energy to the battery for storage.  The combustion engine also generates energy for storage in the battery as required.  The PHEV systems also provide limited charge back to the battery in the same way but require a plug-in to fully recharge.

How much do Hybrid cars cost?

Hybrid cars are usually slightly more expensive than their conventional equivalents – in the range of $1,500 to $5,000 more expensive, depending on the vehicle in question.  As an example, a standard Toyota Camry retails for around $29,000 plus on-road costs and an equivalent standard Toyota Camry Hybrid retails for around $30,600 plus on-road costs. 

Are Hybrid cars cheaper to run?

Hybrid vehicles are cheaper to run over the long term – though the degree of economy will vary on the type and amount of driving you do.  The electric motor powers the car at low speeds and when at a standstill, reducing fuel consumption considerably.  The greater proportion of driving done as city driving at lower speeds and frequent periods at a stop, the more economical the vehicle is to run versus a conventional vehicle.  On the freeway, cruising at high speeds the fuel savings are less significant.  Even when you factor in all the other running cost variables, a Hybrid will eventually pay for itself in fuel savings.

Are all Hybrid cars small cars? Are there large Hybrid cars?

When first introduced to the market, Hybrid vehicles were generally smaller cars.  That is certainly not the case today.  Not surprisingly, as the Hybrid design has proven itself reliable, consumers have driven the market to deliver larger cars to cater for all their needs (and their SUV obsession).  Toyota Australia not only delivers the zippy little Yaris Hybrid, the sensible Camry Hybrid and the family oriented 7 seater Prius v Hybrid, Toyota is answering the SUV call with the RAV4 Hybrid and the C-HR.

Are there Diesel Hybrid cars?

Diesel electric Hybrid vehicles are uncommon in Australia and are at the top end of the price range for Hybrid vehicles.  They are more costly to manufacture than petrol electric Hybrid vehicles and at this stage do not deliver the level of benefits in relation to the extra cost that would make them attractive to the average consumer.

How do Hybrid cars save you money?

Hybrid vehicles save you money by way of their fuel efficiency.  Even accounting for their higher initial upfront cost, the fuel consumption savings offset those higher costs over the long run - and Toyota Hybrid vehicles have the same capped price servicing costs as for petrol models. Hybrid Electric Vehicles do not offer the same fuel savings and emission reductions as a full Electric Vehicle, but they do offer the peace of mind of a significantly greater range and greater fuel economy than a conventional car.

Toyota Australia has a Hybrid comparison calculator which allows you to make a comparison of the Toyota range on the fuel cost savings and the savings to the environment by way of reduction in CO2 emissions.  The Australian Government Green Vehicle Guide  is a calculator available to the public that can compare all makes and models of Australian vehicles for their fuel consumption and emissions.  

Where can I buy a Hybrid car near me?

You can trust Toyota’s extensive experience and demonstrated reliability in Hybrid design.  If you want to invest in a greener future, the Toyota Hybrid Cars Sunshine Coast Dealership, Ken Mills Toyota, can help you find the new Hybrid car that best meets your needs.  Book a test drive with your local Toyota Australia dealership for the Hybrid performance experience.  

Can I get finance for a Hybrid car on the Sunshine Coast?

Yes, your local Toyota dealership can help you with financing your new Hybrid car.  Talk to the experienced staff at Ken Mills Toyota on the Sunshine Coast about your financing options.

Where can I get a Hybrid car serviced near me?

It is best to have your new Hybrid car serviced by an authorised mechanic to ensure that the warranties on the vehicle are not voided.  Ken Mills Toyota has Service Centres conveniently located at Kingaroy, Maroochydore and Nambour.

Are Hybrid car parts easy to find?

Toyota is a well established brand in Australia and Toyota Hybrid replacement car parts are readily available.  As Hybrid vehicles have been in the Australian car market for 20 years, aftermarket parts have filtered into circulation and should be treated with caution.  To ensure warranties are not voided, it is always recommended that you have repairs and servicing undertaken by authorised mechanics like the trained and qualified professionals found at Ken Mills Toyota on the Sunshine Coast.  

Are there Hybrid car tax benefits?

Disappointingly, at this stage there are very limited tax incentives offered by Australian governments on the greener Hybrid vehicles.  At best, there are small discounts on stamp duty or registration costs offered by the State governments.  Queensland vehicle registration duty payable on a Hybrid vehicle is 2%, compared with 3% on 4 cylinder equivalents.

Are Hybrid cars better for the environment?

Hybrid vehicles are better for the environment than the traditional combustion engine vehicle due to their reduced fuel usage and their reduction in C02 emissions.  According to the Green Vehicles Guide, the fuel consumption of a Toyota 2.5L 4 cyl Camry Ascent Hybrid is 4.2L/100km and 96g/km of C02 emissions.  The equivalent Toyota 2.5L, 4 cyl Camry Ascent petrol vehicle has fuel consumption of 7.8L/100km and 181g/km of C02 emissions.

Do Hybrid cars reduce air pollution?

Hybrid cars produce less C02 emissions than traditional fossil fuel powered cars.  Over the course of a year, this can amount to a reduction in tonnes of C02 emissions being released into the atmosphere.  While fully electric vehicles produce no C02 emissions, at this stage their limited range and reliance on plug-in charging makes them a less practical option for many Australian consumers.

How long does a Hybrid car last?

The Toyota philosophy is to make a car that lasts.  This also applies to Hybrid vehicles.  Even the Hybrid battery is designed and built to ideally last the practical lifetime of the Hybrid vehicle – which is why Toyota is confident in offering a 10 year unlimited kilometre warranty on their Hybrid batteries (under certain conditions) for new vehicles purchased after 1 January 2019.

How much are Hybrid car batteries?

The make and size of the battery required for the car will vary the cost of Hybrid car batteries and they can range anywhere from around $3,000 up to over $10,000.  Toyota designs their batteries to last the lifetime of the vehicle, however replacement may be required outside of the warranty period.   Toyota Australia offers a $100 cash rebate for old non-functioning Hybrid batteries or an exchange discount of $500 off the replacement battery if the original Hybrid battery is provided to the Toyota dealer at point of sale so that it can be recycled.

How long do Hybrid car batteries last?

The expected Hybrid battery life is 5 to 10 years.  Toyota is so confident in the quality and reliability of their Hybrid battery that they have exceptional warranty coverage – the Toyota Warranty Advantage (TWA) Hybrid Battery coverage is for up to 10 years, with unlimited kilometres, for new vehicles purchased after 1 January 2019 (under certain conditions including keeping up with the regular maintenance with authorised mechanics).  For Toyota Hybrid cars purchased prior to 1 January 2019, the warranty coverage is 8 years or 160,000 km.

Are Hybrid cars better for driving long distances?

When you compare Hybrid (HEV) vs Electric (EV), Hybrid cars still hold a clear advantage over long distances.  There is no need to plan your journey around the need to plug-in and recharge when driving a Hybrid as you would with an EV.  Whilst their fuel efficiency is at its very best when driven at low speeds, Hybrid cars are still more efficient and have a greater range than a standard petrol engine vehicle.  Some Hybrids offer better fuel efficiency than others over long distances, depending on their double motor configurations.  

Want to test drive our Hybrid cars? Sunshine Coast’s Ken Mills Toyota can help! Get in touch with our team today.