How does a hybrid car with two engines work?


With the climate crisis causing more and more natural disasters around the world, it is increasingly important for the end consumer to make their purchasing decisions with some environmental awareness.

Exchanging your car for an electric or hybrid is a relatively simple way to help the planet, but not everyone knows how to differentiate these two models very well.

The electric car is no secret to anyone at this point in the championship. It has a set of batteries and some electric motors to take you from place to place. Hybrids are more complicated and, therefore, we decided to make this explanatory video for you to understand the advantages and disadvantages of this modal.

Volvo borrowed this XC40 Hybrid T5 so that we could show in practice how hybrid vehicles work. If you’ve ever wondered if an electric or hybrid car could fit into your routine, stay with us to find out.

But what is a hybrid?

There are two more traditional categories of hybrid vehicles. Those with “series engines” usually have a “generator” that burns gasoline to recharge the battery and, from that battery, an electric motor moves the car. In such cases the combustion engine is called a range extender or even a generator.

The most common are parallel hybrids, which have an electric motor and a combustion engine working together to move the car. In such cases, the electric motor is usually responsible for the starts and movements at lower speeds. When the driver steps deep or reaches a higher speed, the combustion engine starts and assumes traction alone. This parallel model is the case with this Volvo car that we tested.

As many models in series as the parallels may or may not have inputs for chargers. Since their batteries are considerably smaller than the 100% electric ones, they usually take less time to charge. The downside is that this does not guarantee a very large all-electric range. The XC40, for example, makes 30 to 40 kilometers on a load without using the combustion engine.

Regenerative braking

But the “leap from the cat” of hybrids is to improve fuel consumption by recovering energy when you brake. This regenerative braking turns the electric motor into a generator and restores charge to the battery. With that, even if you don’t carry that Volvo in the socket, it is still able to greatly reduce fuel consumption, especially considering the size of the vehicle.

By testing the car, I managed to make 18 kilometers per liter of gas on the road, and 24 per liter in the city. Well, he spends less in the city because you use the brake more and, consequently, regenerates the battery more.

For a car of almost two tonnes, this fuel consumption is excellent. And if you use the charger that comes with the XC40 every night in your garage, it is very likely that you will be able to make your little daily journeys running on electricity alone, without spending a drop of gas.

Volvo even allows you to control how the car will run. By pressing this “Drive Mode” button here on the dashboard, you can choose whether the car will run in hybrid or fully electric mode.

Who is this car for?

Okay, this car is very nice, but does it fit the standard of use of Brazilians. In my opinion, it can fit. If you live in the city, your trip to and from work can be done entirely using only the car battery. Just put the vehicle in Pure mode. So he spends nothing on gasoline, which is supercharged in 2021.

The downside of Pure mode is that it only uses the electric motor, which is relatively weak to move a big car like that. So the XC40 is more “slow” in the starts. If that bothers you, always leave the vehicle in “Hybrid” mode to use both engines intelligently and always deliver the power you need.

The downside is that loading the XC40 is not at all fast. It reaches a maximum of 3.6 KWH even if you are in an ultra-fast charging station. Then it takes about 3 hours to fully charge the battery in such a charger. At home, in a socket adapted for the charger that comes with the car, it will take you about six hours.

With the price of electricity here in Paraná, you will spend about R $ 4 or R $ 5 reais to give a full charge to this Volvo in your garage. With an electric range that can reach 40 km of real use, you would spend about 12 cents per kilometer. On gasoline alone, you would spend about 30 cents per kilometer on that same car. In one way or another, it is very economical on a daily basis, even more if you live in a state that gives discount on IPVA for hybrids and electric.


The big problem is the price of the car. Volvo’s XC40 T5 hybrid costs today from R $ 260 thousand. If you want this complete version that we tested, with sunroof, trunk with automatic opening on a lot of assistive driving features, the price jumps to R $ 292 thousand. There, Brazilian reality no longer fits.

But the fact is that all hybrid cars are quite expensive, in Brazil and abroad. All-electric versions of the same vehicles are often cheaper or in the same price range. This is because the mechanics of hybrids end up being more complex and, therefore, more expensive.


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