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Hybrid Car—Types, Advantages, Hybrid vs. Electric

Explore the world of hybrid cars. Learn about different types of hybrids, their advantages, and the differences between hybrid and electric vehicles. Stay informed and make an informed choice.

  • 06 Feb 2023
  • 5 min read
  • 1666 views

 

Hybrid is the latest buzzword in the automobile industry. Automobile engineers all around the world are actively working on developing and improving hybrid cars. Despite the high cost, hybrid cars are gradually gaining popularity among car users across the world.

Unlike traditional combustion engine cars, hybrid cars address the crucial and urgent global agenda of environmental preservation. With global warming and increasing environmental pollution, any innovation that reduces or restricts carbon footprint is a welcome step. Hybrid cars make this possible and are sustainable. So, what is a hybrid car? Today, we will discuss all you need to know about hybrid electric cars in India.

What is a hybrid car?

Simply put, hybrid cars run on two sources of power. Confused about what is a hybrid car? Don’t be. Read on.

  • Hybrid cars come with one electric motor and one Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) which is the usual fuel-run petrol or diesel engine.
  • Hybrid cars can switch between the electric motor and the fuel-run engine or use both engines together as and when needed.
  • Since these cars do not run on fuel power only, they come with way better fuel economy.
  • The usage of the electric motor along with a fossil fuel-based engine reduces the rate of use of fuels such as petrol and diesel, thus restricting carbon emissions.
  • Besides environmental preservation, hybrid cars have an edge in terms of efficiency. Because hybrid cars use both electric and fuel power, they offer higher efficiency.
  • When brakes are applied in a hybrid car, excess power is generated which is used to recharge the batteries. Subsequently, there is a higher mileage range in hybrid cars.
  • To replenish their batteries, hybrid cars can use the ICE engine as well.

How does a hybrid car work?

The sources of power for hybrid electric cars include—an internal combustion engine and one or more electric motors powered by the energy stored in batteries.

Unlike standard electric vehicles, a hybrid electric car cannot be plugged into a charging point to charge the battery. Instead, the batteries are charged either using the regenerative braking technique and/or by using the internal combustion engine.

Since the car has an extra source of power from the electric motor, these cars work perfectly fine with relatively smaller fuel engines. The battery also aids in auxiliary loads and restricts engine idling when it is stopped. The combined effect of these features and the operational structure of the hybrid cars enhance fuel efficiency without compromising power, performance, and mileage.

Difference between a hybrid and an electric car

While we have discussed the basics of hybrid cars, it is essential to identify how a hybrid electric car is different from an electric car. The main difference to quote in a hybrid car vs electric cars discussion is their source of engine power.

In hybrid cars, there are two types of engines—an internal combustion engine that runs on petrol or diesel, and one or more electric motor(s). Meanwhile, electric vehicles do not use any petrol or diesel. They derive power from a single source—electric motors.

This major difference between hybrid and electric cars leads to a series of differences in their performance, operation, and price. Refer to the table below to understand the differences between hybrid and electric cars:

Features

Hybrid Cars

Electric Cars

Source of power

Electricity as well as petrol and diesel

DC electricity using a battery pack

Charging

Not needed

Needed

Efficiency of fuel

Dependent on ICE and battery range

Dependent on battery range only

Level of emissions

Higher than electric cars

Lower than the ICE and hybrid cars

Engine type

Electric motor and internal combustion engine (ICE)

Electric motor(s)

Price

Slightly higher than usual ICE cars

Higher than both ICE vehicles and hybrid vehicles

Also read:

Types of hybrid electric cars

In the pursuit to achieve maximum efficiency with the lowest possible carbon emission, automobile companies are constantly developing newer types of hybrid cars. At the moment, there are five types of hybrid electric cars in India.

1. Parallel hybrid:

This is the most common and popular design of hybrid cars. Here, the vehicle power is derived from both the combustion engine as well as the electric motor engine run by batteries. In a parallel hybrid car, both engines can operate simultaneously, or one of them kicks in when there is a need for additional power. For example, while driving on a steep track or hilly terrain. Since the electric motor and the combustion engine are connected to the gearbox such that they are parallel to each other, these cars are called parallel hybrid cars.

2. Series hybrid:

Similar to other hybrid cars, a series hybrid car has two sources of vehicle power—the combustion engine and the electric motor. So, why the specific categorisation? The answer lies in the operating functions of the two sources. In a series hybrid, the propulsion of the vehicle is not done by the internal combustion engine. The combustion engine is used for generating electricity to recharge the batteries only. The recharged battery pack runs the electric motors which run the car.

3. Plug-in hybrid:

Plug-in hybrid electric cars in India come with a significantly large battery pack—almost like the ones used in complete electric vehicles. This battery pack needs to be charged by plugging into an external source of electricity. The large amount of energy thus produced is like a petrol or diesel tank. This extends driving power using electric energy and reduces the consumption of combustion fuels by major amounts. In case, the electric energy exhausts, the car shifts to operate like a parallel hybrid. Thus, you get super-high electric mileage, low environmental pollution and the added backup of operating using a combustion engine as and when required.

4. Mild hybrid:

Although there are several benefits of using an electric vehicle or hybrid electric vehicle, it is not easy to afford one. The automobile industry is making evident efforts to make hybrid cars affordable for all. In such a scenario, mild hybrid cars are pathbreakers. The objective of mild hybrid electric cars is to gain better fuel efficiency while being compliant with emission norms. In this type of hybrid car, while the car primarily runs on the combustion engine, the electric motors assist the petrol engine to enhance efficiency as well as performance. In addition to this, the electric motor is also used as a starter for the function of automatic start/stop. This in turn helps reduce fuel usage.

5. Two-mode hybrid:

The two-mode hybrid electric cars function in two ways. In the first mode, the car runs like a usual hybrid car. In the second mode, the hybrid car adjusts how much the electric motor will function as per the different specific requirements of the vehicle, driving task, or traffic congestion.

Key components of hybrid electric cars

Some major components of propulsion of hybrid cars are listed below:

  • Auxiliary battery: The auxiliary battery in a hybrid electric car is used to start the car by providing electricity before the traction battery starts operating.
  • Traction battery pack: The traction battery pack is where the electricity is stored to power the electric motors as well as recharge the electric generator.
  • DC converter: DC converter converts the high-voltage power from the traction battery pack into low-voltage DC power. This power is used to run the accessories of the vehicle and to recharge the auxiliary battery.
  • Electric generator: This generator generates electricity when brakes are applied on the rotating wheels. The power created from this electricity generation is transferred to the traction battery pack.
  • Traction motor: The electric traction motor takes power from the traction battery pack and uses it to drive the wheels of the vehicle.
  • Exhaust system: The exhaust system directs the engine's exhaust gases out of the tailpipe. The exhaust system's three-way catalyst lowers engine-out emissions.
  • Power electronics controller: This device controls the electric traction motor's speed and torque by managing the flow of electrical energy supplied by the traction battery.
  • Internal combustion engine: In this setup, fuel is pumped into the combustion chamber or the intake manifold, where it is mixed with air. A spark from a spark plug then ignites the air/fuel mixture.
  • Thermal cooling system: The thermal cooling system keeps the engine, electric motor, power electronics, and other parts running within the right temperature range.

Advantages of hybrid electric cars

Hybrid electric cars are the future of the environment-friendly automobile sector innovation. They come with a wide range of advantages such as:

Low emissions: Compared to internal combustion engines, hybrid cars use both internal combustion and electric engines. As a result, emissions are reduced, making them highly beneficial in checking environmental degradation.

Reduced use of combustion fuels: Hybrid electric cars have electric motors that run on batteries. This reduces the load on the combustion engine and the use of fuels such as petrol and diesel.

Smaller combustion engine: Since combustion fuels do not have to run the whole vehicle, hybrid electric cars come with a smaller combustion engine compared to standard petrol or diesel cars.

The benefit of dual engines: Hybrid electric cars have the benefit of two engines. Subsequently, they offer higher fuel efficiency and much better performance.

Regenerative braking system: In a hybrid car, the electric generator produces electricity and recharges the battery every time the brake is used. As a result, until and unless the battery is completely exhausted, there is no need to stop the car to charge the battery.

Higher resale value: Given the ever-increasing price of petrol and diesel, and the continuous degradation of the environment, people are consciously moving towards hybrid and electric cars. Hence, the demand for such cars is high and so is their resale value.

Disadvantages of hybrid electric cars

Some of the cons of using hybrid electric cars include:

Compromised performance: Hybrid electric cars in India are in demand primarily because of fuel efficiency. Lower use of combustion fuels is the prime objective here. In doing so, aspects such as power and acceleration are often ignored.

Inefficient for long commutes: Since a hybrid electric car has low accommodation for combustion fuel, the remaining need for power is met by electric motors. Now, this setup is not the optimal one for long commutes or long-distance drive through the countryside or highways.

High price: This is a perennial issue with hybrid electric cars and electric vehicles in general. Most of them are quite expensive for the general public. Though automobile companies are trying to reduce the cost, still itis a long shot.

High cost of maintenance: Due to the numerous mechanical components and two types of engines that power hybrid vehicles, maintenance costs are still on the higher side. Additionally, not all mechanics are skilled or qualified enough to work on hybrid vehicles.

FAQs

Does buying a hybrid vehicle affect your insurance premium?

Irrespective of whether you buy a conventional combustion engine vehicle, a hybrid vehicle or an electric vehicle, car insurance is an absolute necessity. The engines of a hybrid car are different from conventional cars. So, in case you go for an engine-protect cover add-on, that will increase your vehicle insurance premium.

What is the difference between a hybrid car and an electric car?

As the name suggests, the hybrid car has two types of engines—the usual internal combustion engine and an electric motor. Meanwhile, an electric car is one or more than one battery-run electric motor(s) only.

What is a mild hybrid electric car?

Mild hybrid electric cars are designed to enhance fuel efficiency slightly so that emission compliance standards are met, without increasing the cost of the vehicle. Here the electric motor assists in improving the efficiency of the petrol engine, which in turn improves both fuel efficiency and performance.

How often do we need to replace hybrid batteries?

Usually, the batteries of hybrid electric vehicles last up to 24,000 km to 32,000 km. The exact lifespan of batteries varies from brand to brand.

Do hybrid cars automatically switch to petrol?

Usually, there remains an automatic gearbox in these hybrid electric cars which runs on the combined power sources of fuel power and electric power. Now, depending on factors like load, driving conditions etc. the automatic gearbox automatically switches between an electric motor and a petrol engine. However, it is not the same for every brand, make, and model. It is best recommended to go through the owner user manual for the operational features of the car.

Do hybrid cars need oil changes?

In hybrid cars, along with an electric motor, there is also an internal combustion engine which runs on fuel like petrol and diesel. So, yes, hybrid cars need regular oil changes.

What are the disadvantages of hybrid electric vehicles?

Sometimes there can be a lag in the performance. Apart from that, they are still expensive despite the efforts of the automobile industry’s innovations to reduce the cost. In addition, the maintenance cost of hybrid cars is quite high.

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