Hybrid and electric vehicles are becoming more and more mainstream these days. For many years, gasoline and diesel engines ruled the roads. But recently, environmentally-friendly alternatives have come to challenge that with the introduction of hybrid and electric engines. But what makes these new engines different? And which vehicle should you choose?
Hybrid vehicles use two different powertrains, an internal combustion engine (ICE) and an electric motor. Hybrids can be classified according to the way both the ICE and electric motor are utilized. A mild hybrid vehicle has the simplest configuration because the electric motor is added only to support the ICE. The ICE is shut off under a no-load condition such as when the vehicle is coasting downhill. The ICE can then be restarted immediately with the help of the electric motor once there is a load. In this configuration, the electric motor cannot run the vehicle on its own and simply augments the function of the ICE. An example of this is the 2019 Ram 1500.
Another variant is the power-split or parallel hybrid which use both powertrains to equally drive the wheels. The ICE is used when the vehicle is running at a high speed and has increasing load conditions, but switches to the electric motor for lower speeds and lower load conditions. This setup provides maximum efficiency for both the ICE and the electric motor thus increasing fuel economy. Examples of this type are the 2018 Toyota Prius, 2019 Honda Insight, and the 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid.
The third type is the Plug-in hybrid. The electric motor is able to take on more of the load from the ICE and has a larger battery pack to extend the range. The ICE provides additional power through regenerative braking, further adding to the range of the vehicle. The batteries can be charged at a charging station or at home with the appropriate charging ports. Examples of these are the 2018 Chevy Volt, 2018 BMW 530e, 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, and the 2018 Volvo XC60 T8.
Pure electric vehicles are configured differently than a conventional vehicle in that there is no gas tank or other components that are part of the internal combustion engine. Electrics rely on a large battery for their power supply and are less mechanically complex than their gasoline/diesel counterparts. The electric motor provides a lot of instant torque and runs silently. Emissions are non-existent and the low-placed battery provides a low center of gravity giving the vehicle better handling. Examples of these are the Tesla vehicles and the 2018 Nissan Leaf.
There are things to consider about hybrid vehicles. Hybrids provide the benefit of range which overcomes one of the concerns of a pure electric vehicle because the ICE can provide the additional range should the batteries run too low. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many models of hybrids to choose from because of the rising popularity of electrics.
Electric vehicles are the most environment-friendly option because they do not use any fuel, thus minimizing your carbon footprint. They also save more money than hybrids because of their non-reliance to fuel. Of course, electrics are still hampered by range compared to hybrids and charging an EV could take longer than a hybrid vehicle.
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