Hybrid and Normal Car Batteries

Difference Between Hybrid and Normal Car Batteries

Hybrid car and normal car batteries differ a great deal since they are built and used for very different functions. Before we get into the differences, note that a hybrid car usually has two batteries. One is exactly like the lead-acid that you would find in a normal car, except that in a hybrid it is sometimes smaller. Lead acid battery is the most affordable and a good choice for the hybrid car drivers, lead battery has high working voltage, simple composition, mature regeneration technology that makes it suitable for hybrid electric vehicle.

This battery is used for running the lights, electronics and radio. When you turn on the car, this battery powers up the engine control computer. This computer closes a relay which in turn activates the Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) battery. This is basically the “hybrid car battery” also referred to as the traction battery that we’re differentiating from the normal car battery.

In the original Toyota Prius, the hybrid car that popularized hybrid cars, the traction battery had many NiMh cells in series. This is used for powering the electric motor and starting the gasoline engine. A computer controls things like the battery’s temperature and charge/discharge cycles. Unlike the the lead-acid battery, a fan cools the battery.

Normal Car Battery

Normal Car Battery

In a normal car, the battery is mainly used for starting the engine. While this battery is small, it is quite heavy, weighing around 15kg. It utilizes lead-acid chemistry and has a capacity of 40–100 (Ah). The lead-acid technology is affordable and reliable.

The electrical power system of a car is 12V. When you firing up the engine, it supplies the starter motor with approx. 60–100Amps. This is quite a strong current and needs thick cables, but just for a few seconds.

This battery can also power the radio and lights even with the engine turned off. When the engine is running, the alternator supplies all the electrical accessories. The alternator even charges the battery, making it ready for use the next time you want to turn the car on.

Hybrid Car Battery

In a hybrid car, the traction battery is available in addition to the kind of battery described above. Instead of powering the auxiliary electrical equipment, this battery is connected to the motors and is used only to provide propulsion. The traction battery can be charged by three methods:

  • By the engine when it is running
  • By regenerative braking (where energy is extracted from the braking parts and stored for reuse)
  • By plugging it in (only for plug-in hybrid cars)

The most efficient hybrid cars use “electric-only drive”. This allows the car to drive solely on electricity, using less fuel. For hybrid cars that don’t have the plugging in option, the electric-only drive option only used at start-up and low speeds. Most plug-in hybrids usually have a larger battery. These cars can run just on electricity alone are relatively high speeds and over longer distance, usually 10 – 30 miles.

Overall, the main difference between a hybrid car battery and a normal car is its ability to be recharged. Hybrid car batteries have two electrodes with an iron-rich solution. To avert a short circuit, a polymer film separates the electrodes and keeps them from touching.

While a hybrid car battery is usually called a battery, it is really a battery pack containing several cells. This is similar to your cell phone battery, which is a single cell battery. If you care for these batteries, they can last for around 10 years, or 230,000 km.

Some More Differences

Here are some more differences between the batteries of a normal and hybrid car:

Life Span

A major difference is the lifespan of the two kinds of batteries. A normal car battery usually lasts up to 6 years while a hybrid one can last up to 10 years with proper care.


A hybrid battery is made up of individual cells, with a polymer film that prevents a short circuit. In a standard battery, there is one housing that includes 6 or 12 cell.

Environmental Effects

The lead acid battery in a normal car is deemed hazardous material, harmful to the environment especially if it isn’t recycled properly. A hybrid car battery is eco-friendlier, which is part of the attraction for people who buy hybrid cars.

Fuel Efficiency

Fuel Efficiency

The way batteries are used in a hybrid car, enable the car to be more fuel efficient. This is yet again another motivation for people to buy hybrid cars. While the hybrid car will also have a lead-acid battery as mentioned above, it uses less fuel thanks to the NiMh battery.

It always helps to know the main components of your car, and that includes the battery. Whether you drive a normal car or a hybrid, you keep the above information in mind. And if you ever run into trouble with your car’s battery, feel free to call Swift Battery. Our 24-hour car battery replacement service has you covered.