At What Speed do Hybrid Cars Switch from Battery Power to Gas

I was wondering how fast I would have to travel in my Sonata hybrid in order for it to switch to using only the gas motor.  I was hoping that I could achieve a speed that was higher than the one indicated in my owner’s manual.

I noticed that I could reach 65 mph as long as I was not accelerating too fast.  The terrain that I drive on is relatively flat, so this speed might vary greatly depending on the angle of slopes.

The speed limit where I live is 60 mph, so I do not have a lot of trouble using mostly my electric motor.

At what speed can you personally expect a hybrid to travel before it switches from battery power to gas? The speed that hybrid switches exclusively into using its gas motor can vary from model to model.  On average, it happens at around 60 mph on highways that are flat and well-maintained. 

I will now examine a few different models of hybrid cars with respect to the speeds that owners have noticed when their cars switch into using the gas motor.

At what speed does the Prius switch to gas?

I have noticed that many owners are reporting that they can maintain the usage of their Prius electric motor up to around 60 mph, which coincides with my Sonata 2018 Hybrid model.  Car makers understate this amount before the switch to the gas motor because they realize that there are numerous factors that can affect the speed that one can obtain.  For instance, the wind speed and the condition of the highway can decrease kinetic energy that affects the speed at which the switch to gas occurs.

Prius has a popular model of hybrid, at a great price.  It makes sense that there are a lot of reviews that can be found on the internet.  Reviewers give various tips on how to reach the highest speed possible in a Prius before the gas motor kicks in.

One reviewer talked about the term ‘deadband’ acceleration.  He stated that you will automatically switch to the gas motor once you have reached deadband.  I had no idea initially what the meaning of this term was.  I found out that it seems to mean the acceleration level when both the electric motor and the gas motor kick in together.  Apparently, it will be displayed that both motors are giving power to the wheels at the same time.

I do not own a Prius, so I am not sure what is displayed on the dashboard, but it sounds like an interesting way to reach the optimum speed to maintain usage of the electric motor.  Just lowering your speed to just below the so-called deadband acceleration level, should allow the electric motor kick in again.

I notice with my Sonata, that you can sense a difference in the level of vibration and sound when it switches to the gas motor.  At that time, I reduce the pressure on the gas pedal so that I can revert back to using the electric motor. Most times, I can still maintain a high enough speed on the highway to keep up with the slower traffic in the right lane.

What speed does a Lexus hybrid switch to gas?

A Lexus hybrid, like the Lexus RX 400h, is a relatively expensive car, so I was expecting to see less information from actual viewers on how to maintain the usage of the electric battery.  Nevertheless, I did find enough information in various forums to draw some conclusions.

I was shocked to find out that the RX 400h model tends to switch to gas even at low speeds.  Also, it will take a lot of driving before you would notice the benefit of the fact that it is a hybrid.  This is because it is the hybrid model that is not pluggable.

I could not find a lot of updated reviews on this model that is non-plug-in.  I did notice numerous comments that were dated in the year 2005.  I realize that they are rather dated, but at least it gives a general idea on when this model was switching over to its gas motor.

Some reviewers stated that it switched over even at low speeds, at around 15 mph.  I was shocked because my car switches over at around 65 mph.  I realize that I had to pay an added premium to have the plugin option, but at least I can drive around a non-city setting as if my car was totally electric.

In 2005, Lexus was stating that the model RX 400h was innovative and that it provided a huge enhancement in performance.  I guess that people should have checked some stats since the Prius that is pluggable would have given them a lot more mileage for their bucks.

Getting a Lexus that had lots of gadgets was a plus at this time.  Nevertheless, technology has evolved a lot since 2005. I have noticed that the mileage is much better for the more recent Lexus Models, like the RX 450h.

Nevertheless, one reviewer stated that you need to be careful with acceleration in order to stay in electric mode.  However, this same reviewer wrote it was allowing more speed than earlier models that he had driven before switching over to the gas model.

When does a hybrid car start using gas?

I think that it would be interesting to analyze when a hybrid switches to its gas motor.  In other words, in what situations will a hybrid switch to gas, independent of speed.

I have noticed a few situations when my Hybrid Plug-in Sonata will switch over to its gas motor.  Since I had purchased mine in the winter time, the temperature was sometimes less than 32-degrees Fahrenheit.  The gas motor would turn on for a few minutes in order to warm the interior of the car.  Nevertheless, initially, the car was started using its electric motor.

Another situation that caused my gas engine to be used, was when I accelerated quickly.  I am not an aggressive driver, but still, this was happening from time to time.

This is quite normal for some people.  When I loaned my car to a friend, I noticed that the indicator that calculates the liters per 100 kilometers had increased slightly.  Normally, this would be the case on a cold day, but this was during a hot day. Obviously, my friend was over accelerating within city limits which cause the gas motor to kick in.

Besides over accelerating on level terrain, just trying to maintain your speed while climbing a hill will also cause the gas motor to become engaged.  In other words, when you are demanding more torque, the gas motor may need to turn to provide more horsepower.  The good thing about a hill, is that you will charge the electric battery pack on the decline portion of the hill.

Are hybrid cars slower than regular cars?

Being that a hybrid seems to switch back and forth between its motors,  you may feel that in general, that a hybrid not powerful since both engines must be relatively small in order to fit into the car.

Besides the smaller size of the motors, many people feel that a hybrid is going to be a lot slower than a regular car just because it does not seem to vibrate and roar like most cars.  Having a noisy car does not automatically mean that a car is a muscle car.

Even though a hybrid is relatively silent when the electric motor is in use, it can reach normal speed for highway driving.  You will not have to worry that you will be causing road rage left and right once you have decided to travel on the highway.

It does take longer to accelerate to 60 mph, compared to a regular car, although the engine designers are constantly closing the gap.  For instance, the Prius Hybrid can acceleration to 60 in the same amount of time as the Toyota Yaris.

Something else to keep in mind with acceleration is that hybrids are designed to be more aerodynamic. Plus, the hybrid battery packs are much lighter than they used to be.  The first hybrid lugged around a battery pack that was 1200 pounds.  My Sonata Hybrid battery pack only weighs 93 pounds.

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