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Hybrid Myths

With any new technology or systems that are not well-known to the public, there are bound to be some myths and misconceptions. Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system is no different. So we’ve gathered up some of the most common myths and misconceptions associated with the hybrid system in order to set the record

Toyota’s hybrid vehicles will run out of power if you don’t plug them in.

Absolutely not.

In fact, you never have to plug a Toyota hybrid vehicle in. Thanks to an ingenious regenerative braking system that converts otherwise wasted kinetic energy into electricity and the ability to reclaim excess energy when driving at a sustained pace, the battery is automatically recharged. That means there’s no danger of driving beyond the range of the battery. And you gas up a Toyota hybrid the same way you would any other car on the market today.

A Toyota hybrid can run on electricity alone if the car runs out of gas.

No, this is not the case. While the vehicle can run in electricity-only mode with gas in the tank, it is not designed to run without gasoline. In fact, drivers are strongly advised to keep their gas tanks fueled, as operating the car on an empty tank can lead to severe damage to the hybrid system.

I need special knowledge or a special license to drive a hybrid vehicle.

No, you do not require any special knowledge to drive a Toyota hybrid car. The hybrid is driven in the same way as a regular car: You get in, turn the key/push the button, put it in Drive and off you go. When you notice it getting low on gas, you fill it up. And you don’t need a special license either. Your standard driver’s license will do nicely.

Toyota hybrids can operate in gasoline engine or electric motor mode only.

Not true. Because Toyota hybrids are what’s known as “true” or “full” hybrids, they can actually operate in a third mode: with both the gas engine and electric motor running. As well, thanks to the power split device, an optimal ratio of gas engine / electric motor power is constantly being fed to the wheels.

All hybrids are the same.

In fact, there are three different types of hybrids; series, parallel and series/parallel. In a series hybrid, the electric motor drives the wheels and the engine’s only task is to generate electricity. In a parallel hybrid, the engine serves as the main motive power while the motor helps in acceleration. Toyota employs the series/parallel hybrid system, making use of both the gas engine and the electric motor for motive power.

A hybrid with such tremendous fuel efficiency is not going to perform as well as a vehicle that runs on an internal combustion engine alone.

It may have been true at one time that fuel efficiency and powerful performance were not compatible. But Toyota’s hybrids are built to deliver on both, thanks to the seamless working and integration of the gas engine and electric motor. In fact, under standard operating conditions these hybrids offer the driving and acceleration performance of vehicles with much larger engine displacements.

Toyota hybrids require special maintenance.

No, the maintenance scheduling and requirements for a hybrid are similar to conventionally-powered vehicles. As for the hybrid system itself, it doesn’t need any extra maintenance.

There’s a danger of shock or fire from the battery pack.

Toyota hybrids pose no additional risks over conventional vehicles. The battery pack is completely sealed. As well, all high voltage circuits are protected against accidental contact. They are marked, color-coded and have warnings indicating their presence.

You can’t jump start a Toyota hybrid.

Not at all. You can jump start a hybrid vehicle with a standard 12-volt DC power source. Connect to cable clamps to access points under the hood and energize the computer. Then press the Start button or turn the key.

You need higher octane gasoline for the Toyota hybrids to operate efficiently.

No, the hybrids can be run very efficiently on regular octane gasoline.

Toyota’s Prius and the Honda Civic hybrid vehicle use essentially the same hybrid system.


The Toyota hybrids use the Hybrid Synergy Drive system which automatically finds the best combination of gas engine/electric motor motive power, depending on driving conditions. The Honda Integrated Motor Assist is a parallel hybrid system with an electric motor.