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Do you have a question about hybrid cars? Ask a Toyota expert and you could win a £200 Love2Shop voucher - ANSWERS BACK

(66 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 03-Jun-13 12:29:31

This week we're running a Q&A about hybrid cars. Toyota have been making hybrid cars for over 12 years but there are still many myths surrounding this technology, like do hybrids need special fuel? Richard Seymour, a fully skilled technician at Toyota will be answering your questions. Richard has 20 years experience working in the technical team preparing and testing vehicles and has worked with Hybrid technology since its introduction.

So if you have a question about hybrid cars please post on this thread to Richard before 10th June. Everyone who posts a question will be entered into a draw to win a £200 voucher for Love2shop. We'll post up Richard's answers on June 17th.

This Q&A is sponsored by Toyota
The all new Auris Hybrid is the perfect family hatchback with a difference, packed with attitude, fun for the kids and even more fun for you. Find out more here.

sarah1967 Tue 04-Jun-13 23:40:13

How far can you travel on a fully charged battery before you have to switch to petrol? Or doesn't it work like that? Does petrol kick in over a certain speed instead or something? As you can tell, I'm not quite sure how hybrids work!

daisybeebee Wed 05-Jun-13 11:18:52

What is the lifespan of batteries and how much do they cost to replace? Is there a big trade off with regard to boot size? If so by how much.

hannonle Wed 05-Jun-13 11:30:49

Do developments in motor racing, such as formula one's KERS systems, really filter down in to road cars? Are there any areas within your hybrid cars which have come from the motor sport arena?

manfalou Wed 05-Jun-13 15:12:55

Would you say a hybrid car is just as reliable as a non hybrid with regards to breaking down? Would the RAC (for example) still be able to solve the problem roadside?

Does the efficiency of a hybrid show on the amount of road tax you pay?

I generally use my car for short trips with a few longer trips at the weekend, spending roughly £20 p/week on fuel. How would this differ in a hybrid? Would my 'shorter' trips run off the electric side of things?

Lillabet Wed 05-Jun-13 15:34:21

Are there any plans for a large hybrid that is powerful enough to tow a caravan/horse box without losing efficiency and it's green credentials?

Catiinthehat Wed 05-Jun-13 21:18:29

Generally hybrids are more expensive but have lower running costs. How long does it take to pay its increased cost off?

zipzap Wed 05-Jun-13 22:19:46

How well would a hybrid cope with lots of little journeys?

I know that it is a Bad. Thing. for diesels as they need to have a regular longer run to clear out particulates or something similar (probably over simplifying hugely!).

however, these days I typically do the school run (couple of miles - stop and drop a child - couple of miles - stop and drop next child - mile and a half - stop at home, then the reverse in the afternoons. Pop to the shops or a friends sometimes during the day but maximum of 5 miles journey each way. And often will consist of several short journeys of a mile or two each within maybe a 3 hour time slot). Occasionally get a longer run to visit relatives say but that's probably less than once a month.

Currently I have one car that copes with this with no problem and an older car that, although supposedly the better car, really struggles as the short journeys don't charge the battery up enough (previously the run to nursery 3x/week round trip of 20ish miles and it was perfectly happy). Which then means that I'll be out and do a couple of hops and then discover that the battery isn't charged enough to start the car - which is then a vicious circle as I take the other car more and thus the poor one gets even less driving/charging time).

I worry that if I were to get a hybrid car and do my typical daytime school run / shopping / etc short hop journeys, I'm going to end up paying extra for the hybrid factor but actually using it very little as I never do enough long journeys to charge it up. So in these circumstances, is it worth switching over yet or waiting until they improve even further (or until my circumstances change and I'm doing more long journeys!).

DELLILAH82 Thu 06-Jun-13 00:16:16

Hi Richard and thank you for your time.

I truly appreciate the steps being taken by Toyota in making mileage efficient Hybrid cars to keep the environment pollution free for our kids and the noise levels down for our parents too. I would love to know how long till we can buy a hybrid car efficient enough to be driven on long routes . Whats does the future hold for us when it comes to Hybrids? THank you for your time smile

MrsShrek3 Thu 06-Jun-13 00:21:54

I'd really like to know what the deal is with longer journeys, say around 100 miles. How far would the car go on its battery? And what's the mpg likely to be for normal economical motorway driving?

I also have a dunce question, what's the road tax?

btw I've had several Toyotas and if a hybrid is a practical next move, I'm seriously considering it.

BlameItOnTheBogey Thu 06-Jun-13 01:36:37

I have no question to ask but just want the chance to sing about my wonderful, wonderful hybrid car. I just bought one new about two months ago - I live in the states so not sure whether the same models exist in the UK but I bought a prius C and it is far and away the best car I have ever owned. It's small - which was one of my main criteria, nippy and super, super cheap to run. I drove it for a full month before I needed to fill the tank and then it cost me $35 which is just over 20 pounds for a months worth of petrol. Fuel is cheaper in the states but that is still amazing.

If anyone is considering buying one of these, I can't encourage you enough. I didn't know anyone who had one but I really worry about the carbon impact of driving and was looking for a way to reduce my footprint which still allowed me to do everything I needed.

There are lots of questions here that don't really understand how a hybrid works. You don't need to charge it. It takes charge from the car as it is running so essentially it converts energy that would otherwise just be wasted into extra miles for your car. The car uses the battery when it can and when that's not enough, it uses the petrol - hence the hybrid. So all the questions about how far you can drive with one are really about electric cars - with hybrids you can go as far as you like - or until the petrol runs out at least anyway.

lottietiger Thu 06-Jun-13 17:31:42

Are the hybrid cars all still petrol driven or are some now diesel? If not would it be just as cost effective to use a diesel only car if I do mostly long motorway journeys or is the petrol hybrid still better value for money?

JenaiMorris Thu 06-Jun-13 17:43:55

The idea of a hybrid really, really doesn't appeal. And an automatic hybrid at that. How are you going to make these cars appeal to those of us who like the sound and sensation of putting one's foot down?

hannonle KERS would be excellent. I suppose they'd tone it down a bit though sad

WMittens Thu 06-Jun-13 19:28:20

The idea of a hybrid really, really doesn't appeal. And an automatic hybrid at that. How are you going to make these cars appeal to those of us who like the sound and sensation of putting one's foot down?

Porsche 918, McLaren P1, Ferrari LaFerrari (horrible name), Jaguar C-X75 (although it's not going any further than the concept stage, booo!).

KERS would be excellent. I suppose they'd tone it down a bit though

Most (all?) hybrids already incorporate it.

sharond101 Thu 06-Jun-13 21:50:31

how often should the battery be charged?

stephgr Fri 07-Jun-13 04:39:13

Do you think the major recalls of Prius cars will lead to even greater consumer scepticism about the benefits of hybrids?

Carmody Fri 07-Jun-13 10:51:36

Thanks AMumInScotland for your helpful posts.

My question to Richard relates to the sizes of hybrid cars. Do they come in large family car sizes (e.g. 6-7 seaters like a Toyota Corolla Verso)? If so, how much more economical are these than their petrol/diesel counterparts?

janekirk Sat 08-Jun-13 19:47:27

What is the overall cost per mile compared to other Toyota models?

crazymum53 Sun 09-Jun-13 14:48:28

What happens about breakdown insurance for hybrid cars - would this be covered by companies such as AA or RAC or do you need specialist companies?

Why are hybrid cars have automatic rather than manual gear boxes - please can you explain.


crazymum53 Thu 20-Jun-13 08:46:52

What has happened to the answers due to be posted on 17th June?

LaraMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 20-Jun-13 10:05:14

We now have the answers back from Toyota, and we will be posting them up shortly.

RichardSeymourToyota Thu 20-Jun-13 10:21:43


How far can you travel on a fully charged battery before you have to switch to petrol? Or doesn't it work like that? Does petrol kick in over a certain speed instead or something? As you can tell, I'm not quite sure how hybrids work!

The hybrid system is fully automatic and requires no input from the driver to operate to maximum efficiency. On a Toyota hybrid the system is constantly deciding which mix of electric motor or petrol engine to use, and recharges the battery several times per minute, sometime for only a few seconds at a time. It does this using energy harvested from engine power.

The net result is that on a typical town journey the petrol engine will not be running (burning fuel) for approximately 30-40% of time. While the engine is turned off you’ll experience near silent driving with zero tailpipe emissions, and the car will do this all automatically. You simply drive the car as you would a conventional, automatic car.

RichardSeymourToyota Thu 20-Jun-13 10:26:22


I am fascinated by the concept of Hybrid cars, but also very oblivious! My apologies if the below are incredibly stupid questions.

From the driver's perspective, how does it actually work? Is there a special button you press to switch between electric/petrol, or does it do it automatically? Does the engine noise and the car handling change when you switch between types?

How do you actually charge the battery? Does the fuel powered engine do it as you drive, or is there a cable you need to plug in, or both? If there is a cable, does there have to be a special power connection port it hooks up to, or does it go into a regular household socket?

First of all, driving a hybrid is a very similar experience to driving a conventional automatic – if you can drive an automatic you can drive a hybrid! The hybrid system automatically switches between two power sources: a petrol engine and an electric motor. The Toyota hybrid system is also unlike many other hybrid systems as both the petrol and electric motors can power the car alone or in combination.

The hybrid system tells the car when to switch between petrol and electric power for maximum efficiency or it will simply combine the two. When the petrol engine is running it also charges the battery and when the car brakes, energy that most cars waste as heat lost during braking, is recycled to electricity for the car to use later.

Because the battery receives plenty of charge from the petrol engine when coasting and from the regenerative braking system when slowing down, the car doesn't need to be plugged in (although there is a Plug-in version of the Prius that does allow you to charge it battery from the mains. This gives an added benefit of being able to drive further solely on the electric motor).

Petrol engines are very efficient when running at a constant speed, like on motorways. They are not as good when accelerating. Electric motors however are very good for accelerating. A hybrid car uses a blend of each at the right time. Although you may well hear the petrol engine step in, the seamless change between sole electric power and the petrol engine power has no impact on the handling of the car.

Overall, it’s a very quiet and relaxing driving experience with no fear that the battery is going to run out, before your final destination.

RichardSeymourToyota Thu 20-Jun-13 10:29:31


My biggest concern is it's reliability. What happens if I run out of charge when I was out and about? Is there a way of charging the battery up again, or is the likely hood of this happening very slim?

A hybrid car (like the Prius, for example) doesn't need to be charged as it charges itself automatically. The car chooses the most efficient use of both the petrol engine and the electric battery, seamlessly switching and blending between the two where necessary.

Toyota hybrids are very reliable. They have fewer moving parts than a non-hybrid car, therefore there's less to go wrong. My parents run a Prius and apart from servicing, it has never needed to be repaired. The brakes even last longer than a non-hybrid car due to the regenerative braking system which recycles energy from slowing down to the recharge the car's battery.

RichardSeymourToyota Thu 20-Jun-13 10:31:11


What is the lifespan of the batteries used in hybrids/EVs?

What developments can we expect in the near future in terms of battery size/weight/energy density?

The batteries in our hybrid cars typically last the lifetime of the vehicle, i.e. the same as a normal petrol or diesel car. I have seen examples of Toyota hybrids with hundreds of thousands miles on the clock that have shown no loss in performance whilst still on the original battery. Don’t forget, all hybrid batteries come with an 8 year/100,000 mile warranty.

Toyota is already developing the next generation of hybrid and battery technology. We've seen the use of smaller, more powerful lithium-ion batteries in the Prius+ (the seven seat hybrid family car) and Prius Plug-in. Expect to see batteries getting smaller, lighter and more efficient which will continue to improve the overall performance of the vehicles.

RichardSeymourToyota Thu 20-Jun-13 10:33:01


I really want to know why it is "better" to have an electric car when we make most of our electricity from burning fossil fuels anyway. Is it some kind of hope that we will one day get all the electricity from renewable energy?

You are correct to consider the issue of energy generation when considering pure electric vehicles. An electric car charged from solar panels will have lower real world emissions than one charged from energy taken from a coal fired power plant.

Toyota is working on pure electric vehicles, but we believe the better solution is hybrid, now and in the future. Toyota's hybrid system can make any engine more efficient – whether that be petrol, diesel or even energy sources of the future, like hydrogen.

What is "better" about hybrid technology is that is recycles the energy that would normally be wasted in a conventional engine. Putting the energy naturally generated during the use of the car back into the battery for further use means less use of fossil fuels.

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