Self-Charging Hybrid Cars: What are they? And should I get one?

Natalie McGinness 4 minutes Published: 08/11/2022

Are you already regularly recycling, cutting down on single use plastics and turning off the tap when you brush your teeth? But still feeling like it’s not enough? We get it!

No honestly, we do! At Lease Fetcher we understand that wanting to do more to reduce your carbon footprint is at the forefront of so many people’s minds.

So, perhaps you’re thinking your next step is to hop on the carbon neutral trend of low emission or electric cars? Well, we’re here to help!

With an abundance of information on low emission cars, it can be difficult to understand which one is best for you. From self-charging hybrid, to mild hybrid, to plug in-hybrid, it can all be a bit much.

Thinking of going green? Compare hybrid or electric vehicle lease deals with Lease Fetcher! We compare millions of deals to bring you the best prices in one place.

What is a Self-Charging Hybrid?

Self-charging hybrid cars - or Full Hybrid Electric Vehicles (FHEV)  are also commonly referred to as hybrids. They are cars that are powered by both a traditional combustion engine and electric hybrid motor. This combination of petrol/diesel and electric power results in an impressive boost of power and improved fuel efficiency.

How Do Self-Charging Hybrids Work?

Self-charging hybrids work similarly to a plug-in hybrid car (PHEV) except the electric motor is not powered by being plugged into and charged by a power source. Instead, a self-charging hybrid uses the petrol or diesel fuel to drive and then uses electric power to brake, indicate and accelerate. 

This electric power comes from regenerative braking, which happens each time you brake and slow the car down. 

For clarity, regenerative braking is the process where the car cleverly takes any wasted energy used when the car slows down and uses it to recharge the car's batteries. Normal cars that are purely petrol or diesel powered, do not have this ability. 

However, it is worth noting that self-charging hybrids have considerably smaller electric motors compared to plug-in hybrids, therefore the electric-only mode only kicks in at very low speeds and the range is minimal.

How Well Do Self-Charging Hybrids Perform?

Compared to a pure petrol or electric engine, self-charging electric hybrid cars perform very well. Even though the electric battery is very small, the electric power improves efficiency, and the hybrid range provides you with an additional 1-2 miles. 

Although, compared to a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) this is a very small electric range, as PHEV’s tend to provide you with an average of 40 miles worth of electric driving. Then of course, you get electric cars which can provide you with 100’s of pure electric miles.

But, just because self-charging hybrids have the lowest electric range of the low emission options, it doesn’t mean they perform poorly. Still powered by a combustion engine, the acceleration achieved still remains impressive, and of course, you produce less emissions compared to a purely petrol or diesel option

How reliable are Self-Charging Hybrids?

It can be said that yes, self-charging hybrid cars are reliable. 

As they mostly drive just like a petrol or diesel car, the maintenance is the exact same. They require regular servicing, annual MOTs and overall just good care for you to get the most out of your hybrid. 

On the topic of electric performance alone, a hybrid seamlessly transitions into electric performance when it’s required, meaning you don’t have to worry about it switching it up while you drive. However, there have been some disputes over the phrase “self-charging hybrid car” as some believe it to be a marketing ploy created by car manufacturers. This is open to interpretation of course.

What is the difference between Self-Charging Hybrids and Electric Cars?

There are two distinct differences between a self-charging hybrid and electric car. 

  1.  Self-charging hybrid charges as you drive and brake.

An all-electric car (BEV) requires you to plug in and charge up whereas a self-charging hybrid charges as you drive and brake. 

  1. The Electric Range

Unfortunately, self-charging hybrids don’t have the most impressive electric capabilities, whereas electric vehicles operate solely on electric power and can give you hundreds of emission free miles.

Therefore, if you are in the market for a low emission car but don’t want the hassle of charging, then self-charging is for you. On the flipside, if you expected a greater electric range, perhaps consider a mild hybrid or electric vehicle. 

Why choose a Self-Charging Hybrid?

A lower electric range is no reason to be put off from the self-charging hybrid. These cars are a great choice for anyone looking to make a more eco-conscious car choice, especially if you do a lot of urban, city driving. 

A self-charging hybrid is also a top choice for anyone who doesn’t have access to a charger or the ability to install a car charger at home. The need for charging is completely eliminated with a self-charging hybrid, meaning you can seamlessly transition to electric as you cruise round the roads.


We hope that our explanation of self-charging hybrids has helped you in your decision-making. 

Now you understand that a self-charging car is powered by regenerative braking and works just as well as a petrol or diesel powered car, it may just convince you to get one. 

However, if our explanation has convinced you otherwise, we think it would be worth exploring similar options. Which is why we have also explained what a plug-in hybrid is and compared hybrid vs electric cars to show you which one is best. 

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