What is a Mild Hybrid (MHEV) Car? Should You Buy One?

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What is a Mild Hybrid (MHEV) Car? Should You Buy One?

First published on: April 30, 2024

Ever since the first models came out in the late 1990s, hybrid cars have been all over the place – they combine an engine with an electric motor that improves fuel efficiency and reduces emissions.

As time went on and the industry changed, plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) were introduced: these vehicles can recharge their batteries from an external power source like an outlet or charging station.

But there’s another type of car that’s been gaining popularity recently: it’s called a mild hybrid (MHEV).

Many automakers have started rolling out vehicles equipped with this technology.

What exactly is an MHEV? How does it work? How is it different from regular hybrids or PHEVs?

And most importantly — should you consider buying one?

This article will help to answer these questions by explaining everything you need to know about mild hybrid vehicles.

What is a Mild Hybrid Car?

The name Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle (MHEV), quite clearly, refers to a hybrid vehicle that uses an ordinary internal combustion engine (either petrol or diesel) and a battery-powered electric motor to reduce the fuel consumption of the car as well as lessen its emission levels.

These types of vehicles can’t charge through an external source or drive using only electricity as other hybrids do. Instead, they charge themselves by regenerative braking into a 48-volt battery; this energy is then used up for more torque which supports the traditional engine during acceleration thereby improving overall performance.

Unlike full hybrids that have zero-emissions capability because their electric motors can independently power cars, in MHEVs their electric motors alone can’t move cars – they can only assist engines while running.

This technology, often referred to as smart hybrids, power-assist hybrids, or battery-assisted hybrid vehicles (BAHVs), is widely implemented and relatively cost-effective to incorporate into vehicles.

Statistically speaking, on average mild-hybrid cars tend to be around 10% to 15% more efficient than their traditional counterparts. Thereby offering attractive optionality for those who wish to buy environmentally friendly vehicles without paying extra money for full-electric or plug-in hybrid models.

Pros of Mild Hybrids

  • Driving a mild hybrid feels much the same as driving a petrol or diesel car, so it’s a familiar experience.
  • MHEVs don’t need to be plugged in and charged up like plug-in hybrids do, which is quite convenient.
  • They are generally more affordable than full hybrids or plug-ins, making them available to more people.
  • Better fuel economy means lower CO2 emissions and fuel costs, as well as reduced vehicle excise duty (VED) tax.
  • The system can be used with manual or automatic transmissions, as well as petrol or diesel engines, giving flexibility.

Cons of Mild Hybrids

  • Mild hybrids can never run solely on electric power, so they can’t offer zero-emissions driving by themselves.
  • These models still emit more tailpipe pollutants than other types of hybrid cars might – something that could worry environmentally-conscious buyers looking at them.
  • While it’s true that they’re more fuel-efficient than standard vehicles are, MHEVs are less efficient overall compared with full-hybrids and plug-in hybrids too.

Are Mild Hybrids The Same as Full Hybrids?

As both types combine an internal combustion engine with an electric motor for better efficiency — in terms of having two power sources — then yes: mild hybrids are similar to full hybrids.

But what differentiates them is their capability: they can not run on electric power alone like complete hybrids.

The term ‘mild’ refers to the fact that this electric motor only offers limited assistance, mostly for fuel saving and engine output boosting; it does not enable a vehicle to move with electricity as its sole energy source like full hybrid cars do.

This basic difference indicates that mild hybrids are more about moving towards electrification than away from total dependence on fossil fuels.

Also Read: What is a Semi-Automatic Car?

Full Hybrid vs. Mild Hybrid vs. Plug-in Hybrid

There are three main types of hybrid vehicles: full hybrids, mild hybrids, and plug-in hybrids. Each type uses electric power in different ways to boost the car’s efficiency and cut down on emissions.

A full hybrid can work using electric power only, with an internal combustion engine (ICE) as a backup or recharging source. This allows silent and zero-emission driving at low speeds, making them perfect for city trips.

In contrast, a mild hybrid cannot drive the car by electric power alone. Its electric motors only assist the ICE thereby reducing fuel consumption and emissions but less so compared to full hybrids. However, Mild hybrids are still more efficient than traditional petrol or diesel vehicles.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) sit between pure EVs and full hybrids by offering the ability to drive considerable distances on electric power alone – rechargeable from an external source – before switching over to internal combustion engine operation. This makes PHEVs versatile since they can be used for short emission-free journeys or long trips powered by petrol/diesel engines while charging along the way using a regenerative braking system.

Although mild and full hybrids have lower emissions than plug-ins during normal driving cycles such as city traffic congestion; plug-in vehicles are cleaner overall because tailpipe pollution is eliminated completely when running purely off grid-supplied electricity thus reducing local air pollution significantly especially in urban areas where most people live/work/play which also contributes greatly towards climate change mitigation efforts globally.

Therefore, choosing among these types of hybrid depends on your driving pattern, budget considerations, and access to charging infrastructure. All represent steps towards reducing reliance on petroleum and cutting down ecological footprint, but different levels of involvement are required in terms of money and time.

Are Mild Hybrid Cars Cheaper to Tax?

In regard to vehicle excise duty (VED), mild hybrids offer a slight fiscal benefit for private owners. They may not fit into the ultra-low or zero-emissions categories that attract minimum levies as required by fully electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids since they still depend largely on petrol or diesel fuel; however, they are classified under the “alternative fuel” bracket thereby qualifying them for a small annual reduction (£10) in road tax compared with conventional petrol/diesel cars.

This incentive, applicable in the 2023-24 financial year makes mild hybrids somewhat more attractive from an ownership cost perspective although savings realised would be minimal.

Are Mild Hybrids More Environmentally Friendly?

Certainly, mild hybrids are greener than normal petrol or diesel cars, but not as much as full hybrids, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) or all-electric cars (EVs).

The environmental benefit of mild hybrids comes from their capacity to save fuel and cut emissions by way of better engine efficiency which particularly includes helping in acceleration and using start-stop technology.

This system offers a practical compromise for drivers who have not embraced full-electric power yet want to lower their carbon footprint.

Why Should You Choose a Mild Hybrid?

Selecting a mild hybrid model is an equitable choice for those seeking to shrink their ecological impact without letting go of traditional petrol or diesel car convenience.

Such vehicles are designed specifically for people who may not presently be prepared financially or practically to switch over completely to electric vehicles (EVs) or plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) due to among other things; charging infrastructure availability concerns.

Mild hybrid vehicles offer a more affordable entry point into hybrid technology, making them an appealing choice for those aiming to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions without major changes to how they drive. These vehicles do not require frequent charging and operate similarly to traditional cars but with the advantage of cleaner energy use and lower taxes. This makes them particularly appealing to budget-aware buyers wanting to adopt more environmentally friendly practices.

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