How do Hybrid Cars Work? Internal Structure and Basic Principle

How do hybrid cars work? The cross-breed vehicles give automakers a way to fuel-economy and carbon emission requirements. It is a comparatively newer concept and most of the drivers are still not familiar with a hybrid car. So, it’s a legit curiosity to know how it works and what is under its hood.

How Do Hybrid Cars Work? – The Basic Principle

Does a Toyota Prius have anything common with a Cadillac ELR? Or, could you bring a BMW i3 and a Honda CR-Z in the same group? It seems illogical at the first look. The BMW and Cadillac models are super luxurious cars while the Toyota and Honda models are budget versions. But, each of them is available with a hybrid powertrain!

A hybrid car has the internal-combustion engine and a fuel tank of traditional vehicles and the battery pack and electric motors of the electric automobiles. It usually works by collecting and reusing the energy of a gasoline-burning engine that would otherwise go waste in standard vehicles.

How do Hybrid Cars Work
A hybrid model is a cross of gasoline and electric cars. (photo source: Toyota)

How Do Hybrid Cars Work? – The Internal Structure

It’s vital to know about their internal structure to understand how they work. Check out the main features of their structure:

Gasoline Engine

All hybrid models have this traditional motor. In fact, it is their main power source since they can recollect and reuse half a ton of battery power from the consumption of one gallon of fuel.

Electric Motor

Apart from a traditional engine, the hybrid cars also use an electric version. This is the component that makes them so special. It takes power from the battery to accelerate the vehicle. It also gives the power back to the battery in the event of slowing the car down.

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They are considered to be the powerhouse of the electric motor. They supply power to the engine and can also take it back when necessary.

Fuel Tank

A hybrid car still needs a fuel tank because it uses a gasoline engine. The engine burns fuel and supplies energy to the battery pack. However, the upside the car does need as much gasoline as required to run a traditional vehicle of similar capacity. The advanced technology of the hybrid vehicles facilitates less fuel consumption and fewer carbon emissions.


Most hybrid models still use the gearbox that you see in the standard gasoline cars. However, the automakers have been trying to design something new for these hybrid versions. Certain cross-breed vehicles such as Toyota Prius use new transmissions, unlike the ones used in regular cars.

How do Hybrid Cars Work
Gearshift in a 2011 Toyota Prius. (photo source: Toyota)


The generator takes power from the gasoline engine and supplies it to the battery and electric motor. To be precise, it is a device that transforms fuel into electrical energy for the battery and the motor.

A generator is a common feature in the vehicles with a series drivetrain. Such a drivetrain runs by the mechanical power that either a gasoline-powered generator or battery supplies through the electric motor.