The hybrid car can be the optimal mobility solution for most customers who want a new car. Even used. If the information is scarce, the customer, open to new, from outside the auto industry, more than likely he will think that a hybrid car is right for him. On the other hand, the hybrid car is completely useless: it is complicated, expensive, heavy and slow. In this article, you will find the information necessary to understand a little better the phenomenon called the hybrid car.
And now let’s take them one at a time. Before you conclude that a hybrid car is perfect for you, it’s good to know a few important things.
A hybrid car is morecomplex
First of all, a hybrid car is complicated. Complex to manufacture, complicated to repair and, ultimately, you can have all the problems involved in a gas car, plus all the problems involved in an electric car. Whatever you give it, it’s a sum. Of course, you also benefit from the number of benefits. But the benefits are below in this article.
Hybrid technology needs space and costs (more). Therefore, hybrid cars are “doomed” to exist from the compact class up. I mean from segment C onwards. The point is that these cars can physically accommodate technology more easily (there is room for it) and … customers are willing to spend (more) money for a car of this size.
In other words, you won’t see Volkswagen up! hybrid, but you will see Volkswagen Golf (Golf GTE) or Volkswagen Passat (Passat GTE). Or you won’t see a Suzuki Ignis hybrid, but you’ll see a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. You won’t see a smart hybrid, but you’ll see petrol or electric.
Related to the complicated system comes directly the price. You pay for two propulsion technologies under the hood of a single car. To understand how expensive a hybrid car is, take the Toyota Prius – the most famous hybrid car in the world.
Usually, the model starts from 26.800 $ with VAT. At the same time, a comparable/equivalent Honda Civic costs about 18.500 $ with VAT.
So, the hybrid model is more expensive than the petrol one. The significant difference can mean gasoline for years.
By comparing all kinds of cars that can technically be compared (equitably) you will get values between 10-50% more as a purchase price for a hybrid model, compared to one on petrol or diesel. So, anyway, yes, the purchase of a hybrid car is (more) expensive. The initial cost is higher.
I keep the two examples below. A Toyota Prius has an approved mass of 1,390 kg, and in the case of Skoda Rapid, we are talking about 1,209 kg. Therefore, the hybrid car is 14% heavier,181 kg respectively. This is no small feat. In Prius’s case, it’s like two solid people running with you all the time in the car. Even if you are … alone. Added mass means more than the weight itself. There is more to be desired. You do not have to be an engineer to understand them: slower machine, greater inertia in any maneuver, greater wear of the braking system, etc … Part of the advantage of the hybrid system is its mass added to a car that would normally only be on the gas.
Keeping the same example, Prius hits 0 to 100 km / h in 10.6 seconds and Skoda Rapid in 9.8 seconds. In many other cases, the hybrid car will be slower than petrol or diesel equivalent. You won’t buy such a car for sprints, of course. But the idea is that acceleration time is a performance indicator that betrays important driving characteristics of a car.
But people when talking about a hybrid car generally refer to one that has a gasoline engine and an electric one. A car like the Toyota Prius for example. And here are the nuances. There are hybrid closed circuit machines that cannot be loaded from an external source (socket), but also plug-in hybrid machines, rechargeable at the socket. There are also subtle but important technical differences between the various plug-in hybrid machines. I will not go into details now. It’s not that relevant in context.
At the top of the hybrids’ trophic chain are the high-performance ones, such as the BMW i8, which are not necessarily hybrids to be economical, but to be even more efficient than just a simple petrol engine. Under such an umbrella as “hybrid car”, so many shades are hidden that you must pay close attention to the details before purchasing.
Hybrid car technology has been among us since 1997 when Toyota launched the first-generation Prius. It is the best known and most widely sold hybrid car in the world. And it turned out to be a very good car over time. So many hundreds of thousands of customers worldwide can’t go wrong, right? It has been more than 20 years since then. The technology has been refined with each generation, the cars have become better and more efficient.
At the same time, in a somewhat parallel world, the same curve of evolution was followed by cars on petrol and diesel. So it’s not as if the hybrid would have evolved spectacularly, and the gasoline or diesel would have stagnated.
Mirage of the plug-in hybrid.
Newer plug-in hybrid cars are those who can be charged at the socket. The thing that very few know about is that carmakers cheat when it comes to a plug-in hybrid. Here’s why.
First of all, the approved consumption is for the first hundred kilometers. I mean, the scenario where you left home, from the outlet, with the battery full. You have 20-60 km pure electric range, the rest on gasoline. Or you drive in a hybrid regime, using petrol once in a while. Automatic. The car does everything for you. So the car manufacturer communicates a consumption of 2-3 liters / 100 km. It’s just about the first 100 km.
If you want to do 500 km in a day with the hybrid plug-in car you will find that you will consume it like any other hybrid car. Or even more. You will consume it like a car on gourmet petrol. You know why? Because the hybrid plug-in machine has been optimized to run efficiently only when you have power in the battery. When it is empty (and it will clear quickly, believe me … 20-60 km autonomy, as I said), you will consume as much as you never dreamed before buying it.
If you have nowhere to charge your hybrid plug-in car overnight … bad luck. You will use it as a “normal” hybrid car, having a gasoline consumption three times higher than the 2-3 liters / 100 km.
A diesel or petrol engine might be a better option financially.
Secondly, it concerns the loading times. Hybrid plug-in machines, without exception, come with integrated low-power chargers. In the car world, we talk about the “charger on board”. Now they are very, very weak. Extremely weak. I mean extremely slow. Most plug-in hybrid models can charge up to 3.7 kWh. That is, no more than any domestic outlet can offer. For the moment, you have an available infrastructure with stations of 22 kW (or more). You will be able to use the jack, but not the power of the station.
Occupying such a station you will block the access of pure electric cars with hours that are capable of charging at a higher speed. We speak of at least 7.4 kWh, and in the case of the majority of the electrics it is about 11 kWh-22 kWh in AC (alternating current), respectively 50 kW in DC.
In other words, a pure electric car will charge at least twice as fast as a plug-in hybrid car, with a 3-5 times larger battery. By default, and autonomy 3-5 times greater. With zero local emissions (unlike any hybrid). And to put it simply, an Audi A3 e-tron (plug-in hybrid) with an 8.8 kWh battery will charge 3.7 kW in about 2 hours and 15 minutes and then have a real range of about 40 km, and a BMW i3 with a 43 kWh battery will charge at the 50 kW station in no more than one hour and ten minutes and will then have a real range of about 240 km.
If the market for hybrid plug-in cars would grow massively, problems with insufficient charging infrastructure would be generated by hybrid machines, not electric ones. It’s a topic no one talks about. But of course, we will reach this point.
In short, the plug-in hybrid car is, compared to a classic hybrid, even heavier, more expensive, and more complicated, and the advantage of plug-in charging is almost nullified in large cities because there is not enough infrastructure to load these cars.
It would only require some simple outdoor sockets. But who can do them? On whose money? And where to be located, since the parking spaces are so few compared to the number of cars and inhabitants of the metropolises? Customers of plug-in hybrid cars often cheat on their own. They get something to go electric. I tell myself that the petrol engine is “spare” for long roads. Or if the 20-60 km range of a plug-in hybrid is sufficient … wouldn’t the range of a purely electric car be just as good? The autonomy would be at least double.
In the case of the plug-in hybrid you carry, every day, a gasoline engine, gearbox and the necessary fluids (oil, gasoline). For what? For the thought that 10% of the roads might be out of town? You can do this with a pure modern electric car that costs as much as a modern plug-in hybrid. You may need to pause charging several times a year. If you’re out of hand it wouldn’t be a big deal to rent a diesel car 30 days a year. No?
The sum of the advantages of the hybrid car.
Yes, there are benefits. The hybrid car reduces oil consumption, smoothes the differences between urban and extra-urban consumption, and is most often more comfortable to drive because it comes from the start with an automatic transmission.
Concerns about loading are zero or reduced, autonomy is high, as the tank, and refueling time reduced. Turn on the gas and go on.
For most car customers a hybrid solution will, in their opinion, be the best choice. The ideal compromise. The new diesel.
Environment? Who cares about the environment? However, they all pollute, from production to use and recycling. Maybe the electrics are the least evil. But they still pollute.
For the predominantly urban use, a state-of-the-art pure electric car can come out at about the same money as a modern hybrid, being a simpler, more constructive, and more enjoyable solution to drive. The electric motor has no spark plugs, timing belts, oil, and gasoline as a hybrid has.
Most users, however, will ignore items like this and buy a hybrid or plug-in hybrid. They will get rid of the sockets and, at the same time, will have even higher costs (TCO) than for comparable petrol or diesel cars.
As we are now aware, the hybrid does nothing but become partially a seemingly viable alternative. An acceptable compromise. That’s how it happened with diesel in the 1990s. Only now is the hybrid is the new diesel. We will all embrace the hybrid, we will glorify it and in 20 years we will conclude that it would have been better to jump directly to the electric.
By the way, China is the largest market for electric cars in the world, and they skip the hybrid phase for the simple reason that urban pollution is so high that hybrids would solve too little of the problem. So they focus on fully electric cars.
By hybrid, we can only prolong the dependence on oil, use the same petrol engines again and again as in the 2000s and look for excuses not to develop a revolutionary battery technology – one that will make urban mobility plausible with 100% electric cars. In this happy case, we would keep the hybrid, diesel, and petrol for applications where the electricity would be unjustified: trucks, ships, SUVs.