Improve your hybrid’s fuel consumption

Want to get the best out of your hybrid vehicle?

We’ve asked our Technical Risk Manager, Nigel Casey, for tips to help you improve your hybrid’s fuel consumption and maximise range.

Keeping the EV mode engaged can help you save fuel because it allows the vehicle to rely solely on the electric motor. Most hybrids have an EV mode that allows them to run on electric power for short distances at low speed. When the EV mode is on, the engine is off which means no fuel is being used.

You can keep your EV mode by being gentle with the accelerator – press it lightly but consistently. Also try to stick to up to 70mph on the motorway to prevent unnecessary use of fuel.

Some self charging hybrid cars will have a speed that when the car reaches it, will switch the drive mode automatically back to the petrol engine. You need to be aware of this and try to maintain below this speed (it usually would be more aligned to city / town driving due to the speed limits encouraging lower speeds).

If you can show the battery, engine, and wheels with the flow of input and output from the battery, engine, and wheels, it will help you learn your car. This can usually be seen in either the infotainment screen or in the dashboard. It shows visually that if you take your foot off the accelerator and allow the car to coast the flow of regenerative electricity going from the wheels to the battery. You will also see the increased regenerative flow when breaking. This will also show the direct flow when topping up the battery from the engine and when the engine is driving the wheels by itself.

There are different types of hybrid vehicles, and the hybrid systems vary by manufacturer.

It’s important to familiarise yourself with the vehicle’s modes and features, how the hybrid system works and how to benefit from it.

If you’re in stop/start traffic, don’t put your vehicle in neutral when stationary, electricity will not be generated, and the hybrid battery will discharge.

When driving downhill, your vehicle will use less fuel if you remain in gear and not accelerating, than in neutral.

Furthermore, putting your vehicle in neutral can be dangerous in certain situations – when you need to avoid an obstacle or make a sudden manoeuvre.

Ensure your tyres are correctly inflated as this won’t only prolong the life of your tread but also improve fuel efficiency and ensure the grip on the road surface is at its optimum.

When your tyres aren’t sufficiently inflated, they create more rolling resistance with the road, so your engine must work harder to keep your vehicle moving, which creates resistance and increased fuel consumption.

Tyres lose air naturally so make sure to check them regularly. To find out what’s the optimum level of your tyres, check your manufacturer handbook.

Check the tyre pressures when the car is cold and hasn’t moved. This will align with the manufacturers checking process, and therefore when inflating will not go over or underinflate beyond the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Planning your journey in advance can benefit you in many ways, one of which is save you some fuel. Before setting off, explore your route options to avoid traffic or roadworks, and don’t forget to allow enough time to reach your destination.

Getting stuck in traffic and rushing to arrive on time won’t only cost you extra fuel but also stress!

Also, combining multiple errands into a single trip and using your vehicle’s electric mode for short journeys can help you maximise fuel efficiency.

Most hybrid vehicles use regenerative braking, which captures energy from braking and feeds it back into the hybrid system. This can boost the efficiency over time when used regularly.

You need to drive a car with regenerative braking differently. Try to avoid sudden braking or acceleration to maximise the amount of energy recouped by regenerative braking. Stay focused on the road ahead to anticipate when you need to slow down.

The air con requires energy, which can increase the fuel consumption. Furthermore, when it’s on, it can increase the aerodynamic drag on the vehicle, especially at higher speeds as the system requires cool air to be circulated throughout the cabin, which often requires air vents to be open.

Use your air con sparingly to minimise fuel consumption. Air conditioning adds significantly to fuel consumption for all vehicles.

If you are using air conditioning, then adjusting the climate control setting up a degree or two will reduce the fuel consumption.

If your vehicle has a cruise control, consider using it to maintain a steady speed, which should avoid any unnecessary acceleration and deceleration.

When you activate it, you can set the desired speed for your vehicle (check which speed is the most efficient for your vehicle). The vehicle would then use sensors to monitor your speed and make adjustments to maintain this speed even if you go up or downhill.

It will also automatically switch between the modes as it is progressing the journey to help the hybrid engine with efficiency.

To make your vehicle more fuel efficient when you need to use your air con, use the recirculation button. It helps reduce the strain on the air con, resulting in less energy use.

When you use the re-circulate mode, the air con system uses the air from inside rather than outside of the vehicle. This means, the air inside the cabin is cooled and circulated more efficiently as the air con compressor doesn’t have to work as hard to keep the desired temperature in the vehicle.

It is also useful when you are driving through a polluted area or an area that has unpleasant smells as it doesn’t allow the air to come into the car.

The heavier your vehicle is, the more fuel it will use. For this reason, don’t overload your vehicle with unnecessary items. Remove roof racks, tools or cargo boxes when they aren’t needed.

Extra weight can also cause your tyres to deflate faster, which can affect fuel economy. It also contributes to increased costs, safety, maintenance costs and potentially downtime.

Reducing drag can help efficiency – less resistance can reduce the amount of energy needed to maintain speed.

Close the windows and sunroof at speeds above 45mph to reduce drag, and fuel consumption. Also, don’t leave your roof bars and roof box on, because they create wind resistance. According to the Energy Saving Trust, an empty roof rack can add 16% drag when driving at 75mph.

Again, don’t forget to keep an eye on your tyres and ensure they are properly inflated, to reduce drag.

Coasting used to be frowned upon, but nowadays it is seen as something that can help reduce the use of fuel with an engine. By this I mean quite simply hovering your foot over the pedals and allowing the vehicle to practically freewheel along the road when you are up to speed. It is usually best on either a flat surface or a slight decline. It is a good way of allowing the vehicle to slow down before getting to a junction, before applying a break in a controlled manner.

Some of the tips also apply to EV and ICE vehicles. Being mindful of your driving habits and taking care of your vehicle is the best way to save fuel. By following these tips, you can maximise the fuel efficiency of your hybrid vehicle and reduce your environmental footprint as best as you can.

If you have any questions about your hybrid vehicle or you’re considering of getting one, get in touch today and we’ll be happy to help.