When you press the Start button on your Toyota Hybrid, it’s nearly completely silent. That’s because at start-up, only the electric motor is engaged, saving you fuel for when you actually need it later.
Accelerating and Cruising
Under light acceleration, the high-torque electric motor can shoulder the entire load, but when you need to merge or pick up speed quickly, the gas engine engages seamlessly for smooth power delivery. Plus, any excess gas engine power is fed into the alternator, topping up the battery pack as you go.
Decelerating and Braking
Usually, energy resulting from a running gas engine or friction brakes is wasted as heat. Toyota engineers saw this as an opportunity. When you lift your foot off the accelerator or apply the brakes, little electric generators absorb that kinetic energy and convert it into chemical-potential energy in the battery pack. This technology is called Regenerative Braking.
When you come to a complete stop or are waiting in the drive-thru lane, the gas engine finishes topping up the battery pack and then shuts itself off. However, should the battery pack ever run low, the gas engine is always at the ready to provide instant horsepower.
Another area in which the battery-powered electric motor gives sole power, and thus saving you fuel, is when you’re backing up.