Research Analyst
Sep 24 - 30, 2012

A Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) is a type of hybrid vehicle and electric vehicle which combines a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) propulsion system with an electric propulsion system. The presence of the electric power train is intended to achieve either better fuel economy than a conventional vehicle, or better performance. There are a variety of HEV types, and the degree to which they function as EVs varies as well.

Modern HEVs make use of efficiency-improving technologies such as regenerative braking, which converts the vehicle's kinetic energy into electric energy to charge the battery, rather than wasting it as heat energy as conventional brakes do. Some varieties of HEVs use their internal combustion engine to generate electricity by spinning an electrical generator, to either recharge their batteries or to directly power the electric drive motors.

A hybrid-electric produces less emissions from its ICE than a comparably-sized gasoline car, since an HEV's gasoline engine is usually smaller than a comparably-sized pure gasoline-burning vehicle and if not used to directly drive the car, can be geared to run at maximum efficiency, further improving fuel economy.


In 2000 North America's first hybrid electric taxi was put into service in Vancouver, British Columbia, operating a 2001 Toyota Prius which traveled over 332,000 kilometres before being retired. Many of the major cities in the world are adding hybrid taxis to their taxicab fleets, led by San Francisco and New York City. By 2009 15 per cent of New York's 13,237 taxis in service are hybrids, the most in any city in North America, and also began retiring its original hybrid fleet after 300,000 and 350,000 miles per vehicle. Other cities where taxi service is available with hybrid vehicles include Tokyo, London, Sydney, Melbourne, and Rome.


Hybrid technology for buses has seen increased attention since recent battery developments decreased battery weight significantly. Drivetrains consist of conventional diesel engines and gas turbines. Some designs concentrate on using car engines, recent designs have focused on using conventional diesel engines already used in bus designs, to save on engineering and training costs. Presently, several manufacturers are working on new hybrid designs, or hybrid drivetrains that fit into existing chassis offerings without major re-design. A challenge to hybrid buses may still come from cheaper lightweight imports from the former Eastern block countries or China, where national operators are looking at fuel consumption issues surrounding the weight of the bus, which has increased with recent bus technology innovations such as glazing, air conditioning and electrical systems.


Hybrid electric light trucks were introduced in 2004 by Mercedes Benz (sprinter) and Micro-Vett SPA .International Truck and Engine Corp. and Eaton Corp. have been selected to manufacture diesel-electric hybrid trucks for a US pilot program serving the utility industry in 2004. In mid 2005 Isuzu introduced the Elf diesel hybrid truck on the Japanese market. They claim that approximately 300 vehicles, mostly route buses are using Hinos HIMR (Hybrid Inverter Controlled Motor & Retarder) system.


US 313.43 201.41 643
France 60.26 31.54 523
Germany 81.75 42.14 515
UK 62.74 31.87 508
Poland 38.30 17.33 453
South Korea 48.39 14.22 294
Russia 141.84 35.50 250
Brazil 196.66 26.91 137
Turkey 73.64 7.80 106
China 1,345.95 66.57 49
India 1,241.49 14.02 11


In May 2003, JR East started test runs with the so called NE (new energy) train and validated the system's functionality in cold regions. In 2004, Railpower technologies had been running pilots in the US with the so called Green Goats, which led to orders by the Union Pacific and Canadian Pacific Railways starting in early 2005.

Railpower offers hybrid electric road switchers, as does GE. Diesel-electric locomotives may not always be considered HEVs, not having energy storage on board, unless they are fed with electricity via a collector for short distances, in which case they are better classified as dual-mode vehicles.


Boeing has stated that for the subsonic concept, hybrid electric engine technology is a clear winner. Hybrid electric propulsion has the potential to shorten takeoff distance and reduce noise.


More than 4.5 million hybrid electric vehicles have been sold worldwide by the end of December 2011, led by Toyota Motor Company (TMC) with more than 3.5 million Lexus and Toyota hybrids, followed by Honda Motor Co., Ltd. with cumulative sales of more than 800 thousand hybrids, and Ford Motor Corporation with more than 185 thousand hybrids sold in the United States by December 2011. Toyota is the market leader with hybrids sold in 80 countries and regions. Worldwide sales of hybrid vehicles produced by TMC reached 1.0 million units in May 2007; 2.0 million in August 2009; and the 4.0 million mark in April 2012. Worldwide hybrid sales are led by the Toyota Prius, with cumulative sales of 2.6 million units sold through April 2012, and available in 70 countries and regions. The United States is the world's largest hybrid market with 2.3 million hybrid automobiles and SUVs sold through April 2012, and California is the biggest regional American market. The Prius is the top selling hybrid car in the U.S. market, surpassing the 1 million milestone in April 2011.