The reason why Hybrids are called hybrids is because they are a cross between a standard internal combustion powered car and an exciting fancy battery powered electric car. They contain a standard engine, like traditional cars, that drive the wheels by burning petrol. The clever part is that they also have an electric motor, which also drives the wheels, using electricity generated for “free” when you brake.
The system works like this.
When the car is taking off, both the engine and motor are used to drive the car. This means that the car has impressive take off (ish).
When the car is going slowly (like in a city), the electric motor is enough keep it going. The motor is powered by a battery.
When the battery runs out (it’s not that large), or the demand for power is too great, the petrol engine kicks in.
When you brake, regenerative breaking uses the energy from the wheels to recharge the battery. In fact in a standard hybrid car, this is the only way the battery is charged.
So what does this mean?
I suppose one of the main things, is that the clever part, the battery, is really just a city thing. If your driving long distances, you don’t get the benefit. No loss, but no gain. As most of us spend the bulk of our time in city though, there are big savings.