What is the Difference Between FHEV and PHEV Hybrid Cars

What is the Difference Between FHEV and PHEV Hybrid Cars

Micro-hybrid, a car with light hybridization, full-hybrid (FHEV), or even rechargeable hybrid (PHEV or Plug-in hybrid). The hybrid vehicle sector is experiencing a marked craze, in particular, due to the environmental constraints imposed on car manufacturers. Driving a hybrid car offers many advantages. But in practice, what are the differences between the different types of hybridization, and What is the Difference Between FHEV and PHEV Hybrid Cars.

In 1997, the automotive industry took a new turn with the arrival of the Toyota Prius, the first hybrid car combining a heat engine and an electric motor. Since then, generations have succeeded and many other car manufacturers have joined Toyota, also offering their own models of hybrid cars.

The craze is such today that in 2021, sales of hybrid vehicles in Europe have equaled those of diesel cars and moreover seem to be on the way to replacing them in the years to come. The segment that saw the strongest growth in 2021 was that of plug-in hybrid cars (PHEV), with +89% sales compared to 2020. As for non-plug-in full-hybrid cars (FHEV), their sales increased by nearly 69% in just one year. A difference in favor of plug-in hybrids may find its explanation in the fact that only this segment is eligible for government aid, such as the ecological bonus (until July 1, 2022) and the conversion bonus. To understand this, let’s look at the differences between the different types of hybridization.

The Different types of Hybridization: Advantages and Disadvantages

There are actually four types of so-called hybrid technologies. Let’s quickly mention the first, micro-hybrids, whose presence of the term “hybrid” in the name is confusing. Especially since the name “micro-hybrid” is often used to evoke light hybrids, which contributes all the more to disturb the spirits.

In reality, so-called micro-hybrid cars are equipped with an alternator-starter of approximately 3 kW, recharging a battery to ensure a simple “Stop&Start” function. This function makes it possible to cut the engine when stationary and restart it automatically when the driver releases the brake pedal. This technology helps to slightly reduce fuel consumption in town, where stops are more frequent. But in the event of traffic jams, the “Stop&Start” system can then cause too many stops and starts. Better to deactivate the function.

Light hybrids, or mild-hybrid (mHEV)

Let’s now talk about mild hybrid cars, or mild- hybrids, whose name is also decried. Indeed, this type of hybridization does not allow you to really drive in 100% electric mode either, in any case not at a sufficient pace or over a reasonable distance. The system fitted to micro-hybrid cars is also based on a starter-alternator recovering kinetic energy during braking and deceleration. This recharges a low-capacity battery. The energy is then reused for the same “Stop&Start” function as on the micro-hybrids, but also to assist the internal combustion engine in its accelerations.

Mild-hybrid technology, therefore, does not allow driving solely on electricity, or for a few meters at most. On the other hand, it reduces fuel consumption when driving in urban areas; where stops are more frequent. It is also the least expensive hybrid technology because it is the easiest to install. Finally, taking the wheel of a micro-hybrid car already allows you to feel a certain driving comfort since the accelerations are more efficient.


Total hybrids, or full-hybrid (FHEV)

Total hybrids, also called full-hybrid, are in a way equipped with true hybrid technology, in the sense that it combines a heat engine and an electric motor. This technology, whose best current representative is probably the Toyota range, allows the wheels to be driven either by the internal combustion engine or by electricity; or both simultaneously, depending on the needs. Here again, the battery recharges using the kinetic energy recovered during the deceleration and braking phases.

It is thus possible to adapt your driving to make it 100% electric, in order to put the combustion engine to rest. It is also possible to start the car using the electric motor and to travel, with this same motor, almost 5 km (if the battery recharge allows it).

Conversely, drivers can also take advantage of the simultaneous work of the two motors, to obtain the maximum power necessary for the most efficient overtaking maneuver. Driving a full-hybrid car also reduces fuel consumption, especially in town and suburban areas. In addition to these savings at the pump, there is an appreciable performance gain, in addition to the electric motor. On the other hand, autonomy in 100% electric mode is limited. Plug-in hybrids then make it possible to drive with the electric motor over a longer distance and at a higher speed. However, this type of vehicle is more expensive than FHEVs.


Rechargeable hybrids, or plug-in hybrids (PHEV)

A plug-in hybrid, or PHEV, is sort of the ultimate in hybridization. In addition to the functions offered by previous hybridization technologies, this type of car makes it possible to drive 100% electric over a longer distance: on average 50 km; at a speed of up to 130 km/h. This most successful hybrid solution, but also the most expensive to purchase, benefits from several larger capacity batteries and a more powerful electric motor, or even several motors.

If plug-in hybrid vehicles seem to have only advantages, they still suffer from some disadvantages. The first of them: charging. On a conventional outlet, charging a PHEV can take almost 8 hours. It is, therefore, necessary that the location dedicated to parking the car allows easy access to a power outlet.

On the terminal, it must be powerful enough to benefit from the most efficient charging possible. Another point deserving attention: the cost of charging; around fifty euros for a quick recharge on the motorway to a few euros at a public terminal… depending on the type of billing. Because beware, the bill can quickly climb if the user has misunderstood the tariff schedules and in this regard, the billing of a charge on a public terminal is rather opaque. Its calculation system thus varies according to the operators: flat rate, energy consumed, per minute, per time slot, or via a formula comprising the combination of several criteria, etc.

It is also possible to opt for a Wallbox compatible with charging your plug-in hybrid car. This device allows individuals to charge their PHEV more quickly: 3h30 on average. The price of this type of terminal (about 1200 euros) can be reduced thanks to the subsidies allocated by certain car manufacturers.

Note that some plug-in hybrid models, like the Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar that we were able to test, make it possible to force the charging of the electric batteries by the internal combustion engine. A load that then consumes fuel.

Second grievance: the cost of this still relatively high hybridization system. It is nevertheless possible to benefit from this type of hybridization from government aid favoring so-called “clean” cars. The reason is simple: driving a plug-in hybrid car reduces CO2 emissions by 75% on average, whereas a non-rechargeable hybrid vehicle reduces them by nearly 30%.

Until July 1, 2022, an ecological bonus and a conversion bonus may be granted to you (under certain conditions). Government aid is not possible to obtain for a non-rechargeable hybrid. In addition, no ecological penalty is applied to PHEVs (again, subject to conditions).

Finally, larger electric batteries take up more space, boot capacity may suffer on some models; as well as the weight of the vehicle may be higher. But in return, you will benefit from the advantages of driving in a plug-in hybrid, which is also very pleasant, because it is smoother. Not to mention a reduction of about 70% in fuel consumption compared to an equivalent model fitted with a heat engine, in the context of optimal use of the PHEV, that is to say with charged electric batteries. Enough to lower the bill at the pump, especially since some plug-in hybrid models also allow you to fill up with E85.



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