Do Hybrid Cars Produce Exhaust?


Hybrid cars are an advanced mix of technology from electric cars and conventional vehicles. In some ways, they are like electric cars and in some ways, they are like internal combustion engine vehicles. With all of this mix and matching of technology, it can be hard to know what is included in hybrid cars and what might have been left out due to the mix of technology. 

Do hybrid cars have exhaust? Hybrid cars do have an exhaust system.  Since they have an internal combustion engine (though smaller than normal cars), an exhaust system is required. Remnants from the combustion of fuel have to be released through the exhaust system which means hybrid cars do release some emissions.

Hybrid cars have exhaust systems that are identical to those found in any other vehicle with an internal combustion engine. They also produce a much smaller amount of pollution than any other type of vehicle with an engine but we will get into greater detail about that later. The only type of vehicles that don’t have exhaust systems are electric vehicles and though hybrid cars incorporate technology from electric vehicles hybrids still have parts from conventional vehicles that require them to have exhaust systems. 

Why Hybrid Cars Require An Exhaust System

Hybrid cars have an engine just like any other non-electric vehicle, and that means that products are going to be created. These by-products that are created can’t simply just sit in the car, you have to get rid of them. The way of getting rid of these by-products is the exhaust system. Emissions from cars are a concern that has worried the world for a long time now. Technology has continued to improve internal combustion engines to reduce the amount of pollution created but there is still a good amount more created than what some people would like to see. 

Hybrid cars are part of the solution that has been created for these vast amounts of emissions and even though they have a very small amount of emissions created when compared to other vehicles there is still the need for an exhaust system. I will be talking about the exact amounts of exhaust created by hybrids compared to conventional vehicles later in the article but it is good to know that hybrids are creating a much smaller carbon footprint than traditional cars with gasoline or diesel-fueled engines. 

Is The Exhaust System On A Hybrid The Same As On A Gasoline Car? 

For the most part, hybrid vehicles will have the same type of exhaust system that a traditional vehicle with an engine will have. Though there may be some differences in the shape of the exhaust system the overall concept is going to remain the same. In reality, there isn’t much that could change to be honest because an exhaust system is simply a series of tubes connected to an engine that allows a pathway for gases from the combustion of the fuel to escape. 

The one thing that might vary in hybrid cars from other, older internal combustion engine vehicles is the catalyst. The catalyst in exhaust systems is used to help convert very harmful gases produced by the engine into less harmful gases that can be safely emitted into the atmosphere. Most often, The design of the catalyst is going to remain the same but there might be some variation in the exact make-up of metals and other elements that are put into the catalyst as science continues to advance. 

How Much Less Exhaust Do Hybrids Put Out Than Gasoline Cars?

The average passenger vehicle, most likely cars like Toyota Camrys or Honda Civics, is going to produce around 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. That is a lot of carbon dioxide. This is coming from the government itself. The amount of emissions produced by your average hybrid is about half of that. The average hybrid car will produce between 2 and 2.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year depending on the number of miles that the car is driven. 

Hybrids are incredible at producing very low amounts of exhaust because of the electric motor that helps the car run. The electric motor greatly assists the cars during low speeds and when the car is idle so it is completely ideal for city travel where one might be having to deal with a lot of stop-and-go traffic. At times the car may run completely off the electric motor and during these periods the car is producing zero emissions. Even though this is a great benefit hybrids are still going to produce emissions because hybrids can’t run off of an electric engine 100% of the time. 

If you compare regular internal combustion engine vehicles to plug-in hybrids then the difference is going to be even greater. Plug-in hybrids often have greater battery storage so the electric motor can be used more often and for longer periods because it has greater access to electricity. For this reason, plug-in hybrids are going to produce even less exhaust than regular hybrids do. Plug-in hybrids are a type of hybrid that has just begun to become popular on the car market so it isn’t known the potential they have for low emissions. 

Can Some Hybrid Cars Drive Solely On Electric Power And Thus Cause Zero Emissions?

As I just mentioned, there are periods when hybrid cars can run completely off of electric power and their electric motors in which case they produce zero emissions (see our other article “Can A Hybrid Run Without Gas?” by clicking here). Most of the time a hybrid car is going to be using both a gasoline-fueled engine and an electric motor to create the most effective fuel consumption-to-power ratio. The electric motor is going to be the sole power source for the car in only very specific instances. 

When the car is sitting idle for some time is going to be one example of when a hybrid car is being powered solely by an electric motor. However, if the car is sitting idle for too long the engine may kick in because the electric motor will eventually run out of electricity to use as the batteries are drained. Hybrid cars don’t have huge batteries so that is a big limiting factor when it comes to a hybrid car’s ability to be completely powered by an electric motor. 

Regenerative braking does help recharge the batteries in most hybrids so even though hybrids may not have a lot of battery storage the electric motor is going to be able to use throughout the drive. With that being said, regenerative braking is only going to provide a small amount of electricity and not nearly enough to continually move the entire car. 

When a hybrid car is going down a hill or when the car is traveling at low speeds and stopping frequently are other examples of when the hybrid vehicle may be completely powered by the electric motor and produce zero emissions. For one when any car is moving down a hill, gravity is going to be doing most of the work, in this case, the electric motor is going to be providing the very small amount of energy that is needed when traveling downhill. 

It is very hard for the electric motor to produce large amounts of power so you aren’t going to be seeing a hybrid car being run only by the electric motor when the car is trying to move up a hill or at high speeds. During these instances, both the engine and the motor are going to engage. Having said that, a hybrid car may be able to be completely powered by the electric motor when in heavy traffic because the car is going to be moving at low speeds.

Though a hybrid car is still going to produce emissions during the greater majority of its time, these periods of zero emissions are going to greatly reduce the carbon footprint that is created by these vehicles. No matter how advanced technology becomes, any engine that uses gasoline or diesel to run is not going to produce zero emissions. There will always be leftover gases and chemicals that are going to have to be released. Hybrid cars are only able to reach periods of zero emissions thanks to their electric motor.  

Related Questions

Do hybrid cars get worse gas mileage in winter? In cold weather, hybrid cars get worse gas mileage than they would have in moderate temperatures. Evidence has shown that when the temperature outside is less than 20 degrees Fahrenheit the fuel economy of a hybrid car can drop between 30%-34%. This drop in fuel economy causes a hybrid to have a very similar fuel economy as some non-hybrid cars. Click here to view the full article.

What is the difference between a hybrid and an electric car? Hybrid vehicles use a mix of power from an internal combustion engine and an electric motor to spin the wheels and drive the car. In comparison, electric cars exclusively use electric motors and electric power to move and power the car. These technologies create differences in the way that hybrid cars and electric cars are engineered. To view the full article, click here.

Amanda Cannon

Amanda has an ever growing knowledge of cars with her education beginning when she was a little girl. She was frequently seen working on cars with her dad and today can be seen working on a 1966 Bronco, 1968 Firebird, and modifying her 2022 Bronco.

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