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How Toyota Hybrid Electric and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles Work

Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Toyota Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) combine gas engines with electric motors to generate electricity as you drive. While your vehicle is in motion, Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive seamlessly, and automatically, chooses the optimal source and blend of motive power. And because the system recharges as you drive, you never need to plug-in the hybrid electric vehicle.

Starting Up

In most conditions, only the electric motor is engaged, saving fuel and delivering instant torque with minimal emissions.

Accelerating and Cruising

The gas engine and electric motor team up to provide the ideal mix of power for seamless acceleration. Excess energy is used to help recharge the battery.

Decelerating and Braking

The electric motor takes over. The regenerative braking system converts braking energy into electric energy to help recharge the battery onboard the vehicle.

Resting and Reversing

When stopped, the gas engine shuts down to conserve fuel – unless the battery is running low. When reversing at low speed, only the electric motor is required.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles

Toyota plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) operate much the same way as regular Toyota hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs). However, they can also be optionally plugged in - enabling you to extend your electric-only driving range. RAV4 Prime and Prius Prime are great examples of PHEV technology.

  • Commute up to 40 km in EV Mode alone***
  • Reach a top speed of 135 km/h in EV Mode***
  • Travel up to 1,035 km** between fill-ups with a full tank and fully charged battery
  • 5 hr 30 minutes**** charge time with a standard 120v household outlet.
Easy Recharging

Prius Prime offers one of the fastest charging times in its class. Plus, you don’t need to purchase any special equipment to charge it.****

  • Commute up to 68 km in EV Mode alone***
  • Reach a top speed of up to 135 km/h in EV Mode***
  • Travel up to 979 km†† between fill-ups with a full tank and fully charged battery
  • 2 hr 30 minutes††† charge time with a 240v32A outlet.

**Based on Natural Resources Canada 2019 Fuel Consumption Guide published ratings for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Estimated EV mode range rating when fully charged. Actual mileage traveled in EV mode will vary and is dependent on many factors such as traffic, road and weather conditions, vehicle maintenance, driving speed, charging practice, battery age, and cargo load.

***EV Mode range at top highway speed of 135km/hr is only available for a very limited distance (significantly lower than the EV commuting range of 40km for Prius Prime and 68km for RAV4 Prime) and is dependent upon many factors, including charging practice, driving style, driving speed, road/traffic conditions, outside temperature, air conditioning control levels, payload/cargo weight, proper tire pressure, vehicle maintenance and battery age.

††Based on Natural Resources Canada 2021 Fuel Consumption Guide published ratings for both plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery-electric vehicles. Estimated combined range rating when fully charged and with a full tank of gas. Actual results will vary based on driving habits and other factors.

†††Always plug-in in accordance with Owner's Manual.

**** 5 hr 30 minutes††† charge time with a standard 120v household outlet. Always plug-in in accordance with Owner's Manual.

Reasons to Choose Hybrid Electric

The reasons to choose an electrified Toyota vehicle are as diverse as the lives we lead. And with a wide range of hybrid electric and plug-in hybrid electric models, we have one to help you get the most out of life.

Electrified Toyota Vehicle vs. Gas Calculator

Switching to an Electrified Toyota Vehicle Helps Foster a More Sustainable Future

Tell us a little bit about your driving habits, and we can show you how an electrified Toyota vehicle can help you get more out of every litre of fuel, while reducing your carbon footprint.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This informational calculator is a comparison tool that allows you to compare the relative estimated fuel consumption and CO2 profile of an identically operated Toyota gas vehicle to a Toyota hybrid electric vehicle, using the Canadian federal government’s vehicle fuel consumption test methodology. The government methodology is a 5 cycle test carried out in a laboratory on a chassis dynamometer. The 5 cycles are: city test, highway test, cold temperature operation, air conditioner use, and higher speeds with more rapid acceleration and braking. The assumptions behind each test are more fully explained on the current Natural Resources Canada website: These tests attempt, within the confines of a theoretical laboratory test, to simulate 5 of the most common real world driving conditions. However, there are many other significant common real world variables that impact fuel consumption and no laboratory test is able to take into account all the variables that will affect individual fuel consumption. Your vehicle’s fuel consumption and CO2 profile will vary from the test ratings, depending on how, where and when you drive. The following factors will significantly affect the fuel consumption/CO2 profile of your vehicle: your driving style and behaviour, how you accelerate and brake, how fast you drive, overall age and condition of your vehicle, temperature, weather, traffic and road conditions, using drive systems like AWD or four wheel drive, using air conditioning and powered accessories installed on your vehicle. In addition, small variations in vehicle manufacturing will cause fuel consumption differences in the same make and model, and some vehicles do not attain optimal fuel consumption until they are “run in” for about 6,000 to 10,000 km.

As a result, many Canadian drivers WILL NOT achieve the fuel ratings or CO2 numbers stated in the government’s Fuel Consumption Guide or in our Electrified Toyota vs Toyota Gas Informational Calculator.

† Based on standard NRCAN 55% city/45% highway testing only.

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You could use up to 0L less gas per yearMonth

You could emit up to 0% less CO2 per yearMonth

Choose the Right Electrified Toyota Vehicle for You

From compacts to SUVs — we have an electrified Toyota vehicle to help you get the most out of life.

There are a million reasons to choose a Toyota Hybrid.

"We are the example for these kids. They copy everything we do."

Benoit, Toyota hybrid owner

Explore Toyota Hybrid - Find Your Reason


Disclaimer - Unless otherwise stated in an individual fact, all comparisons are between a Toyota hybrid electric vehicle and a conventional gasoline engine vehicle (comparable in size, class, equipment) when driven under identical conditions.

  • Over 98% of the Toyota hybrid electric vehicles sold in Canada since 2001 have never had their original battery replaced. Starting with 2020 model year vehicles, hybrid electric batteries are now backed by a 10-year/240,000 km warranty*.

    * Whichever comes first

  • While hybrid electric vehicles benefit from engine-shut-off and more EV (electric-only) driving in the city, the latest generation Toyota hybrid electric systems feature highly efficient gasoline engines for highway driving; the system can even enter EV mode while cruising on a highway in certain conditions. Toyota’s hybrid electric system will seamlessly determine and optimize what combination of electric and gas engine power is required based on your driving conditions.

  • Drive a Toyota hybrid electric vehicle like you would any typical conventionally-powered vehicle. Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system works seamlessly in the background, optimizing the combination of gas and electric power as you drive. Fueling a Toyota hybrid electric vehicle is identical to fueling a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle; you do not need to plug it in. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles offer the benefits of a hybrid electric, with the option to plug the vehicle in for extended electric-only range.

  • Toyota hybrid electric vehicles have been designed to offer our customers similar or even greater levels of performance versus their conventional gas counterparts. The instant torque of electric motors not only helps hybrid electric vehicles accelerate off the line, but allows for very refined and direct acceleration. Electric motors can also add to the total horsepower rating. As an example, RAV4 Hybrid Electric delivers more horsepower and faster acceleration versus our conventionally powered model. That extra power can enable Toyota to develop smaller, lighter engines. Those lighter engines, combined with enhanced battery placement, can result in improved handling.

    Learn About High Performance Hybrid Electric Vehicles
  • Not only do Toyota hybrid electric vehicles follow the same maintenance schedule of every 6 months or 8,000 KM (whichever comes first), but the way the hybrid electric system works can reduce how often other areas of the car need servicing. In a hybrid electric, the engines are off some of the time, the brakes are regenerative, saving pad & rotor life, there is no transmission fluid under load, and there are no starters, alternators or belts to be replaced.

  • Toyota’s hybrid electric systems are designed and tested for Canada just like any Toyota vehicle, and adhere to Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Hybrid electrics cause no greater concern for passengers or rescuers in the event of a collision than non-hybrid vehicles. The batteries are sealed in a protective metal case and insulated from the vehicle body. Additionally, hybrid electric battery cables are shrouded in bright-orange cladding as a warning to emergency workers, and Toyota works closely with first responders to provide information and material for training on how to work with hybrid electrics. You also get the peace of mind knowing that all Toyota hybrid electric vehicles come standard with Toyota Safety Sense, an active safety suite which includes pre-collision technology to help prevent an accident from occurring in the first place.

  • Supplementing the gasoline engine with an electric motor yields benefits far beyond performance and reliability. Advancements in fuel efficiency contribute to a reduction in both CO2 emissions and reliance on fossil fuels. Since we first launched the Prius in 1997, Toyota’s wide range of electrified vehicles have prevented over 94 million tons of CO2 emissions globally*.

    *In lieu of conventional gasoline vehicles of similar class and engine performance

  • It all began in 1997 with Prius. Since then, the Toyota family of electrified vehicles has grown with more models and we have continually developed and innovated on hybrid electric technology in every new generation of vehicles. Toyota offers more electrified models than any other full-line passenger vehicle manufacturer and has sold more than 15 million hybrid electrified vehicles around the world.

  • In addition to the 3-year or 60,000 KM* Basic Complete Vehicle Warranty, Toyota Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) come with a Hybrid Component warranty – good for 8 years or 160,000* km. Starting with 2020 model year Toyota HEVs, hybrid electric batteries are now covered by an extended warranty – good for 10 years or 240,000* km.

    *Whichever comes first

  • While 98% of Toyota hybrid electric vehicles sold in Canada since 2001 are still running on their original batteries, once the time comes, hybrid electric batteries can be dismantled and recycled or repurposed just like any other battery. Toyota Canada has a recycling program in place that recycles hybrid electric batteries once they can no longer be used in vehicles. We have also undertaken initiatives within North America to repurpose Toyota hybrid electric batteries for a more sustainable future, like the Lamar Buffalo Ranch Project in Yellowstone National Park.

  • Toyota hybrid electric vehicles never have to be plugged in. The hybrid electric system recharges the battery itself, allowing you to drive and operate the vehicle the same as a conventionally powered vehicle. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) can optionally be plugged in for extended electric only range.

  • Like our conventionally powered vehicles, all electrified Toyota vehicles and their components undergo rigorous testing to ensure they withstand whatever mother nature throws at them. You can be confident that all electrified Toyota vehicles have been designed and tested for life in Canada. The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid electric is manufactured right here in Canada; built by Canadians, for Canadians.*

    * *From 19MY onwards