The rapid consumption of fossil fuel and increased environmental damage caused by it have given a strong impetus to the growth and development of fuel-efficient vehicles. Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) have evolved from their inchoate state and are proving to be a promising solution to the serious existential problem posed to the planet earth. Not only do HEVs provide better fuel economy and lower emissions satisfying environmental legislations, but also they dampen the effect of rising fuel prices on consumers. HEVs combine the drive powers of an internal combustion engine and an electrical machine. The main components of HEVs are energy storage system, motor, bidirectional converter and maximum power point trackers (MPPT, in case of solar-powered HEVs). The performance of HEVs greatly depends on these components and its architecture. This paper presents an extensive review on essential components used in HEVs such as their architectures with advantages and disadvantages, choice of bidirectional converter to obtain high efficiency, combining ultracapacitor with battery to extend the battery life, traction motors’ role and their suitability for a particular application. Inclusion of photovoltaic cell in HEVs is a fairly new concept and has been discussed in detail. Various MPPT techniques used for solar-driven HEVs are also discussed in this paper with their suitability.