Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV) were the first of the ‘new generation’ EVs on the market in the late 90’s.
They have an electric motor, a small battery and a moderate sized Internal Combustion Engine (ICE). The electric motor commonly only assists the ICE, although more recent versions may drive the car for a short distance till the battery is flat.
HEVs are refuelled exclusively with fossil fuels – i.e. they DO NOT plug-in to recharge the battery directly.
Instead, the battery is charged from the otherwise wasted energy from braking. This is done by reversing the operation of the electric motor to make it a generator that charges the battery.
By doing so, the electric motor/generator slows the car for all but the heaviest braking. (This is called regenerative braking). Regenerative braking saves up to around 20% of the fuel used by an ICE.
The best known examples in Australia are the Toyota Prius, Toyota Camry hybrid and the Honda Insight.