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A third of car buyers don’t know what a 'hybrid' is, survey finds, what is a hybrid car survey

A new survey by has revealed that 30.9% of UK consumers, don’t understand what a hybrid car is.

A poll on the used car website in July, asked ‘what is a hybrid car?’ and provided three options: one that can use at least two means of propulsion, one that does not have an internal combustion engine and one that can run on both petrol and diesel fuels.

Of 1,190 respondents, 822 gave the correct answer, hybrid cars use two means of propulsion, a conventional engine and an electric motor.

However, almost one-in-three answered incorrectly, with 178 respondents saying a hybrid car does not have an internal combustion engine and 190 believing that a hybrid car can run on both petrol and diesel fuels.

Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) data showed that the number of hybrid car sales in the first half of 2020 was down 19.7%, with 39,328 new car registrations, in comparison to 49,004 in 2019.

Many see the technology as the ideal bridge into full electric vehicles (EV), however.

Rod Joseph, director at, suggested that more should be done to communicate the basics of the technology with potential customers. He said: “It should be of huge concern to vehicle manufacturers, dealers and policymakers that such fundamental misconceptions are so widespread.

"After a decade on the market, the fact that 16% think hybrid means it can run both petrol and diesel is quite astonishing, a devastating statistic.

“You can speculate about why – confusion around different hybrid technologies (HEV, PHEV, MHEV etc.), the Government lumping them in with petrol and diesel on the soon-to-be-banned list, the suspicion they’re merely a stopgap on the road to full electric, plus they’re not cheap.

“In the current economy, used buyers are minimising risk, hence the uplift in the sub-£10k category. The bottom line is that hybrid sales remain low and they’re in danger of becoming a white elephant – the Betamax of the transition to carbon-free motoring.”

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