Do Hybrids Have Catalytic Converters

Do Hybrids Have Catalytic Converters? (3-Minute Read)

Catalytic converters are used in almost all types of automobile vehicles. Most modern exhaust emission standards require this type of exhaust, so they’re an integral part of most vehicles.

But, as you may know, not all cars these days use catalytic converters. For instance, electric cars don’t need them since there’s no internal combustion happening. 

But what about hybrids? Since these cars are part-electric, do they have catalytic converters? Or can they function without them? 

Do Hybrids Have Catalytic Converters?

Hybrids, such as non-plug-in hybrids and plug-in hybrids, use catalytic converters. Since these automobile vehicles rely on two methods of powering the engine, namely fuel and electricity, they need catalytic converters for one of them.

Simply put, all cars that run on liquid fossil fuel require catalytic converters. So, even though hybrid cars can run on fossil fuel and electricity interchangeably, it still means that these cars need this type of exhaust.

What do catalytic converters do in hybrid cars?

What types of cars don’t have catalytic converters

Catalytic converters have one primary function in all automobile vehicles: turning harmful chemicals, such as carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, and nitrogen dioxide, into less harmful substances like carbon dioxide and water vapor.

Catalytic converters have become mandatory for all fuel-powered cars many years ago. But cars that rely on two sources of power, including fuel, like hybrids, need catalytic converters as well.

Hybrids aren’t fully electric cars. This means that they also require petrol aside from drawing power from the electric battery. With that also comes the need for a catalytic converter.

In fact, the only types of automobile vehicles that don’t have catalytic converters are fully-electric cars.

The most popular hybrid cars include the Mercedes C 300 e, Toyota Yaris, Renault Captur, Skoda Octavia, Kia Niro, and BMW 330e. All of these models have catalytic converters since they do rely on internal combustion as an energy source for the engine.

Even if you look for other hybrid cars, they will also have catalytic converters. The only difference between a hybrid and a fuel-powered car is that hybrids don’t need to rely on a catalytic converter all the time. But fuel-powered cars need it as they always produce emissions when running.

Why do hybrids need a catalytic converter?

Why do hybrids need a catalytic converter?

Hybrid cars are powered by two methods: fossil fuel and electricity. Choosing a hybrid car allows you to switch between these two methods depending on your preferences, the road demands, and the location you’re driving in.

So, since hybrid cars also use fossil fuel, there’s internal combustion happening in the engine. This means that a hybrid car does produce fumes and various harmful chemicals when driving using fuel.

As a result, these harmful substances need to be turned into less harmful ones before exiting the car, which requires a catalytic converter. This type of exhaust turns these dangerous substances into carbon dioxide and water vapor.

So, a hybrid automobile vehicle needs a catalytic converter.

Can hybrids drive without a catalytic converter?

Some types of hybrids, like mild hybrids, use petrol all the time when in use. So, they need to have a functional catalytic converter in order to comply with modern exhaust emission standards.

Even the types of hybrids that can drive long distances on electricity without turning to petrol need to have a catalytic converter since there’s still the possibility that internal combustion might occur once you switch the energy source.

So, even though it’s technically possible, all hybrid cars are equipped with a catalytic converter.

With that said, just like a fuel-powered car, hybrids can drive without a catalytic converter, but it’s not good for them in the long run. Without the presence of the catalytic converter, the oxygen sensors in the car don’t work properly, which affects how effectively the engine works.

So, even though driving without a catalytic converter won’t damage your engine, the car’s performance will suffer.

Do some hybrids not have catalytic converters?

Do some hybrids not have catalytic converters?

The premise behind a hybrid car is that it has two ways of powering the engine. The first is electricity, and the second one is a fossil fuel.

There are three types of hybrids: full hybrids, mild hybrids, and plug-in hybrids. There are different pros and cons to each of these types, but they all have one thing in common: they require a catalytic converter.

For instance, full hybrids use both fossil fuel and electricity to power the engine, either independently or at the same time. They’re the most common type of hybrid vehicle.

Full hybrids run primarily on fossil fuel, so they need a catalytic converter to turn the harmful gases during internal combustion.

The electric batteries in a full hybrid are quite small. This means that they can only be used at low speeds and short distances but also that they charge quickly.

Just like a full hybrid, a milk hybrid vehicle uses two sources of energy. But unlike a full hybrid, these two sources can’t be used on their own. This further enhances this vehicle’s need for a catalytic converter.

A plug-in hybrid, just like the name implies, can be plugged in to charge its electric batteries instead of relying on the engine.

This type of hybrid still has a catalytic converter, but a user who doesn’t drive too far each day can technically use this kind of vehicle without ever turning to petrol.

This is possible since the batteries are much larger than the ones in a full hybrid, allowing for more charge at a time.

So, as you can see, all types of hybrids require a catalytic converter, whether they rely on it all the time or not.


Hybrid cars use both fuel and electricity to power their engines. Because of that, they can drive without fuel, but they may also drive with it, depending on the user’s preferences and the demands of the road.

This also means that hybrid cars need to be equipped with a catalytic converter. It’s because when a hybrid vehicle drives using fuel, there’s internal combustion happening in the engine, which requires a catalytic converter.

Sources: ICCT, Science Direct, and ACS Publications

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