We have been flooding your screens with the words hybrid, plug-in, electric vehicles or EVs. If you are on the path of going green, you have encountered these three terms already. But what exactly are these high-tech powertrains? How do they differ from each other? And which is best for you given your ecosystem?
This blog will make it easy for you to understand the unique features of each powertrain and will enlighten you on your preference the next time you buy a new car.
Thanks to Toyota Prius, most, if not all, are now familiar with the word hybrid. A hybrid car has two powertrains— a gasoline and an electric. Both work for maximum efficiency. The engine can shut off entirely at low speeds and rely on battery for propulsion. The battery is either charged, while you drive, by converting kinetic energy into potential energy thru a complex regenerative braking system, or directly from the gas motor. This very hands-off, behind-the- scenes system won’t hassle the driver. All he or she needs is to put in gas and drive her/his usual way.
The range in fuel economy for hybrids are from 13 mpg for the Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta to 58 mpg for the Hyundai Ioniq Blue. There are hybrid sedans, hatchbacks, SUVs, and crossovers.
Hybrids are best for those who wants to cut fuel consumption without sacrificing too much. It requires no special equipment to be installed at home. They cost more than traditionally-powered vehicles so calculate the projected fuel savings you will have over a period of time vis-à- vis the cost of buying this type of car.
Also known as PHEV, this is a a step further towards full electrification. The battery pack is much larger than the hybrid’s and can go between 12 and 97 miles on electricity for Mercedes-Benz GLE550e and BMW i3 w/Range Extender respectively. Like a hybrid, the driver is basically unaware of which power source is being used or if it even switched over due to a drained battery or more power is needed in specific driving circumstances.
However, PHEVs require some effort on the driver. For maximum fuel economy and performance, it must be on full battery to get the maximum EV range and since it offers a relatively short range, you may have to plug it daily. Furthermore, note that it should be plugged in to special high-powered wall-chargers.
The real beauty of this car though is its flexibility. It is possible to visit the gas station only once during a long trip. A Chevy Volt can cover 53 miles with a fully-charged battery. With a full batt and a full tank of gas, it can go 420 miles. The Chrysler Pacifica PHEV, on the other hand, can cover 570 miles if it is full on both battery and fuel.
PHEVs are best for those going for short commutes and would want to take advantage of the EV-only capabilities; and those who have access to a charger but might occasionally need to surpass the range of traditional EVs. This car is for those who enjoy hypermiling. And because of its regenerative brake system, which recaptures much of the kinetic energy when stepping on to the brakes and then converts it into electricity to be used again for recharging the car’s batteries, hypermiling has been more fun.
EV’s are the final (to date) and most aggressive change we have seen so far. This is obviously fully electric and no gasoline is needed, even as a backup. EVs now have ranges between 57 miles for Smart ForTwo ED and 335 miles for Tesla Model S P100D miles yet most fall within the 100-mile coverage.
Driving an EV is different than driving the first two. Its powertrains can quickly accelerate from a complete stop but once you step off the accelerator, regeneration kicks in and harvests energy from your forward motion. With some EVs, you can drive in most situations without braking—just use the accelerator and release it for regenerative braking.
Electric vehicles are best for those who have access to high-powered chargers, are in short commutes (for now), and are fully aware of how far and how often they drive. Unlike a PHEV that has a fuel backup, running low on battery without any near chargers will leave you with no other option than have your EV towed.