There are two ways that a hybrid car, such as the Prius, can recharge its batteries: through regenerative braking, or by taking power from the gas motor. While ordinary cars rely on friction, applied directly to the wheels, to slow down, hybrids rely on the electric motor. With a regenerative braking system, the electric motor is switched into reverse, which both slows the car down and restores power to the batteries (since the electric motor in reverse acts as a generator). Failing that (if, say, you’re on a highway and not really using your brakes), the batteries draw energy from the gas motor to recharge.
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