You might have heard of Tesla by now. That’s a pure electric car. However, there are some brands of hybrid cars available too, to ensure you get the best of both electric and regular cars. Here are some interesting facts you should know about them:
- They offer the best of both worlds – lower emissions of electric and no range anxiety of pure electrics. They are perfect for people who are not ready to make a complete switch to electric cars because of range anxiety – they can go long distances unlike pure electrics with a regular tank up of fuel. If you run out of charge in a hybrid car, the gas engine takes over.
- Hybrid cars have an electric motor and a second battery along with regular petrol or diesel engine.
- The battery is either charged by the engine, or from a plug point like a cell phone. It also stores energy recovered from regenerative braking (energy that would otherwise be lost when accelerator is let go and vehicle is in motion).
- The electric motor is more efficient at low speeds while gas engines are more efficient at moderate to high speeds. It runs on electric power for shorter distances usually, like chock-a-block traffic (zero energy consumption while idle unlike gas engines) or within the city at low speeds. The pure electric range depends on the capacity of the battery.
- The gas engine runs at greater speeds or when there is no charge left in the battery. A combination of both is used for best efficiency as determined by an on-board computer.
- There are different types of hybrid cars, depending on the size of the battery.
- Start-Stop Hybrids, the first type, are the simplest form of hybrids. They usually have a bigger primary battery (the lead one like every car has, just bigger in capacity) and no secondary one. They have an integrated starter generator (ISG) which helps in shutting off the engine at idle speeds in heavy traffic, and switching on when the clutch is pressed. Some have regenerative braking and a secondary battery too that runs the air conditioner when the car’s engine is turned off by the ISG in traffic. This system helps improve fuel economy by a little margin, and in our view, it should be standardized on all cars (especially bigger cars) as they are not expensive. The Maruti Suzuki Ciaz and Ertiga SHVS are examples of this type.
- Mild Hybrids are one in which there is a small secondary battery and electric motor which runs at low speeds, recovers energy by regenerative braking, and are much more efficient and greener than pure gas cars. The popular Toyota Prius is an example of a mild hybrid. Mild hybrids have a NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) battery or a small Lithium battery (more modern, higher range, lower weight but expensive). They usually have a very low pure electric range (often 1 km or so) and so there is no provision to charge it from the electricity supply mains.
- Plug-in Electric Hybrids (PHEV) are ones that have a bigger battery and more pure electric range (15km to 100km or so). PHEVs with bigger batteries are more electric car than fossil fuel powered. The battery and electric motor are primary source of power and the gas engine (referred as range extenders) is usually a generator that works on demand when the car needs to go out of town beyond the battery range. For regular office commute, it is zero emissions electric drive charged from the grid at your home or office or public charging station. Chevrolet Volt and BMW i3 are examples of Plug-in hybrids with range extenders.
10. Charging infrastructure in India is at an infant stage. It is not difficult to set up public charging points as they are basically a plug-point from the grid with meters and other simple equipments. Charging in India has an advantage over USA because of 220V supply. America has 110V supply which means they have to purchase a faster charger to charge at 220V. In Bangalore, with Mahindra’s efforts, many public charging points have been installed at malls, cafes, and other parking places.
Want to know what hybrid cars are sold in India? And are they really green? Read here.
Image source: Chevrolet
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