Hybrid cars used to be considered fringe vehicles, driven by people more concerned about the environment than by getting from A to B quickly.
Today, the picture is very different – all major car brands have a range of hybrids, and they are generally faster and sportier than their internal combustion competitors. Are these hybrids manual or automatic?
Few hybrids are available with a manual transmission, but they do exist. There is a distinction between mild hybrids, which cannot travel on electric power alone and are available in manual, and the full and “plug-in” hybrids which are only found in automatic transmission.
So, we need to define a mild hybrid and how it differs from a full and a plug-in hybrid. Each has different operating systems, but they are designed to reduce the use of fossil fuels in vehicles. They have their niche in the automobile industry.
Which Hybrids Are Manual And Which Are Automatic?
There’s a good reason why there isn’t such thing as a manual full- or plug-in hybrid, but to go into detail means first looking at each of the three types of hybrid cars.
All hybrids have a combination of electric power and an internal combustion engine (ICE) (usually petrol) to drive the wheels. It’s how they are combined that differs.
A Mild Hybrid Car Can Be Automatic
In a mild hybrid car, as the name suggests, there is less electrical assistance from the electric motor than in the case of the other hybrid types.
In fact, the electric motor is not part of the drive train at all. It is only used to power auxiliary systems such as air-conditioning, starter motor, and other power-draining elements.
Generally based on a small 48-volt battery, this hybrid system boosts the ICE’s power, making it more fuel efficient and lowering the emission levels. The system is most effective during starting and hard acceleration from low speeds.
It is more efficient in practical day-to-day driving because the battery is charged by the ICE and through regenerative braking energy.
Because the power is still delivered to the wheels through the traditional engine, an automatic transmission is available on this type of hybrid. There is not much fuel saving, but you can expect your fuel bills to be up to 15% lower.
Cars using the mild hybrid system include the Audi A7 and A8 Sportback, the Audi Q8, Ferrari’s Laferrari, and at the other end of the spectrum, the Ford Puma and the Suzuki Ignis.
The Mild hybrid system has also been adapted for use in Formula One. It is generally considered the least expensive and cost-effective hybrid system.
Full Hybrid Cars Are All Automatic
A full hybrid system is one in which the internal combustion engine drives the wheels and charges the battery pack.
This, in turn, powers an electric motor that is strong enough to be used as the car drive at low speeds and around town. So, the car can be driven only on the electric motor, only on the ICE, or on a combination of both.
An electric motor doesn’t use a gearbox to transmit power to the wheels, as it is a high-revving motor. As in a full hybrid, power is transmitted from two sources.
The automatic gearbox is linked to the electric motor employing electrically controlled valves and clutches to synchronize them. This is impossible with a manual gearbox, so you’ll only get automatic full hybrids.
Full hybrids like the Toyota Prius, and Ford Escape Hybrid, arefar more fuel efficient than mild hybrids. They can be run on an electric mode around the city and on combined mode for slightly longer trips. Using the ICE exclusively will result in heavy fuel consumption.
The battery and electrical components add to the car’s weight, so it’s not recommended. Long trips, for this reason, are not the strong point of this type of hybrid, but they are incredibly efficient in the city.
Plug-In Hybrids Are Not Available in Manual
Plug-in hybrids are the fastest-growing type of hybrid vehicle. They are likely to be the most popular in the near future as the infrastructure develops, which is necessary to support the system.
More plug-in hybrids was sold in 2021 than in the previous ten years, and the figures for 2022 are even higher. Plug-ins work on the same principle as full hybrids in that they offer the use of either electric or petrol/diesel power or, alternatively, a combination of both.
Plug-ins differ in that the electric motor is much more powerful, the battery packs a lot larger, and the distance range is much longer. With these properties, the plug-in is the perfect compromise between traditionally-powered and fully electric-powered cars.
Electric-only power will last for about 50 to 60 miles. Combined with the ICE, the possible distance could double – and new technology is increasing that potential almost daily.
Again, for the reasons we’ve outlined above, it’s impossible to mate a manual gearbox with an electric motor, so the automatic option is not an option – it’s the only one available.
With the larger electric motor coupled with a highly- efficient ICE, the performance of the latest plug-ins can only be described as electrifying.
The fastest is the Koenigsegg Regera, with a top speed of 250 miles per hour and a 0-250mph time of 31.49 seconds. If you’re looking for a four-seater to take the kids, the Koenigsegg Gemera will do 0-60mph in 1.9 seconds and reach 248 mph.
You can also come back down to earth and buy a plug-in Hyundai Tucson or Kia Sportage. Still, the point we’re making is that there is no limit to the performance of a hybrid – they’re extremely quick, very eco-friendly, and definitely the best option for your next car.
With the phenomenal growth in the hybrid car market, the chances are that the traditional petrol and diesel models will disappear in the next few years. It also is apparent that plug-in hybrids and electric cars are the vehicles we will be buying.
That, in turn, means that the option of a manual “stick shift” will also disappear, and it’s already a fast-growing trend.