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We have a tandem garage and wonder which of the hybrids could run on electricity only and long enough to get the front car out.

I think the latest Prius can do this but do not know about the Honda Civic or Insight.


From the "Ask Jack" archives - 10 December, 2010


While the Toyota Prius and the Honda Civic/Insight are all hybrids, they operate quite differently.

The Honda system works on the theory that the primary power source is always from the petrol engine and the electric motor is there as a power booster in certain conditions.

For example, because it runs a very fuel efficient 1.3l petrol engine, a power boost from the electric motor is often required when travelling up hills, overtaking or maintaining a set speed.

It is a very basic and user friendly system. Turn the key as you would for a conventional car and let the hybrid system do the rest.

The Toyota system is a lot more complicated, however it does have its advantages over the Honda system. For example, you can enter a car park or move from one red light to another solely on the electric motor. The petrol engine will engage as required once the vehicle speed has increased to a point that additional power is needed.

So to answer your question; in theory the Toyota can move in and out of a garage solely on its electic motor whereas the Honda definitely cannot. Pushing down on the accelerator pedal however with the Prius will eventually engage the petrol engine.

While the Toyota and Honda Hybrid systems have been modified and enhanced over the years the basic principals remain the same.

If you are thinking about a Hybrid I would strongly recommend you avoid use imports and try and get the latest model your budget will allow.

In the recent AA ENERGYWise Rally the Honda Insight beat the Toyota Prius by the narrowest of margins.

The rally is based on fuel costs over a specific distance and while the Prius had the better fuel consumption, the fact the Honda can operate on the cheaper 91 octane fuel was enough to edge the Toyota (95 octane) out of first place overall.