So we’re taking the liberty of assuming that you’ve already read our article on hybrid cars. Now for the next step, here is a comparison of the hybrid cars available in India.
1. Toyota Prius
Image source: Toyota
The Toyota Prius is the most popular hybrid car in the world. Popularized by Hollywood and eco-lovers, over 5 million units have been sold in over a decade. It is a mild hybrid, offers a great combined fuel economy of around 23.91 kmpl in city conditions! The new Prius is the most efficient gas powered car without plug-in capability in the United States. It is powered by a 1.8-litre petrol engine that generates 97bhp and 142Nm of torque. With the electric motor, the combined power output is a good 134bhp. The battery is a Ni-MH (Nickel-Metal Hydride). It has 3 modes – EV (pure electric), Eco (combo mode decided by on-board computer) and Power.
Sadly, the Toyota Prius being a fully imported car attracts huge custom duties and starts at an expensive INR 38.1 lakh.
2. Toyota Camry Hybrid
Image source: Toyota Camry India Facebook
The bigger, more luxurious (3-zone climate control, cooled seats, powered reclining rear seats) Toyota Camry Hybrid costs INR 31.19 lakh in India as it is assembled in India. This makes it a better buy than the Prius for someone looking for a hybrid car. It has a big petrol engine (158bhp) and 44bhp electric motor. This is also a mild hybrid but has a modern Lithium battery for better efficiency. Like the Prius, it comes with 3 driving modes EV, Eco and Normal. The fuel economy is 19.6 kmpl – which, considering the size, is impressive. Most of the Camrys sold in India are hybrids.
3. Maruti Suzuki Ciaz SHVS and Ertiga SHVS
Image source: Maruti Suzuki
The Maruti Suzuki Ciaz SHVS (Smart Hybrid Vehicle System according to Maruti) is essentially a start-stop, integrated starter generator, regenerative braking capable ‘mini’ hybrid. It doesn’t have a secondary battery. It has a 91bhp diesel engine and delivers 28.09 kmpl which makes it the most efficient car in the country. With the sops offered by the Indian government for hybrid vehicles (FAME – Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles and lower excise), the more efficient Ciaz is now cheaper than the regular one. It starts at INR 7.68 lakhs and is also the cheapest hybrid car in the country. The Maruti Suzuki Ertiga which has the same heart as the Ciaz, has also been equipped with SHVS and is more efficient than before.
4. BMW i8
Image Source: BMW
If you care for the environment, and want a fast hybrid car and have 2.29 crores to spare, the BMW i8 is the car for you. A futuristic design, carbon fiber body and 0-60mph in 3.8 seconds – the i8 is powered by 228bhp small twin turbo charged petrol engine and an electric motor that punches out 129bhp. Combined power output is 357bhp.
Is It Really Worth Buying The Hybrid Cars Available In India?
In my opinion, only the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz and Ertiga are priced properly and have engines that are sanely powered. Even the Prius has a 134 bhp power output which is big for India where we are used to smaller 70-100 bhp cars. Smaller power output means better fuel economy, and better fuel economy means lower emissions. The 200bhp Camry hybrid makes some sense in the entry level luxury segment as a greener car when most of the commute takes place in heavy traffic where the battery and regenerative brakes work the most. But what is needed in India is a small hybrid car having a low power output with the green hybrid tech and delivering 30+kmpl figures. There was news in June 2015 that Maruti Suzuki would be introducing the Swift Plug-in Hybrid which would have a fuel efficiency figure as high as 48.2kmpl. A few other Indian manufacturers have showcased their green vehicles at the Delhi Auto Expo this year and the year before too. But none of them have been launched so far. Till they are ready with proper hybrids, we wish Maruti and others implement the SHVS in all cars.
How Green Are Hybrids?
Pure electric cars are the greenest. Hybrids are heavier than normal gas cars, and also pure electrics in terms of power to weight ratios. More the weight, less is the efficiency. Yes, they are green and more efficient but only when they are used mostly in city traffic conditions where start-stop, regenerative braking and the best of efficiencies of both power trains are used. But if only the engine works, say for highway runs, it loses on efficiency and green factor (less than gas cars) having to pull the extra weight of the batteries which do not contribute to efficiency at high speeds. So, the final word is that hybrids are great if the commute is mostly city and if the user is anxious about range.
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