The motor industry has always been on the lookout for more fuel efficient technologies. The breakthrough was achieved with the introduction of hybrid cars in the market. By hybridizing gasoline and electric power, the auto manufacturers have achieved the perfect blend of performance, safety and cost. Such vehicles are called Hybrid Electric vehicles (HEV). They not only benefit the buyer but the entire society and environment. Some of its advantages have been summarized below:
Technological Advantages of Hybrid Electric Vehicles
Several changes have been made in the technology used in HEVs in order to increase its fuel efficiency. Rapid developments are still going on to leverage the engine efficiency. Some of the technological advantages of hybrids are given below:
- One of the best technologies used in the HEVs is the Regenerative Braking. It minimizes energy loss by using the kinetic energy of the vehicle during stopping or slowing down. During this time, the electric motor starts acting as a generator to save the wasted energy of friction. This energy is re-channelized and used for recharging the electrical battery and no separate energy source is required for charging the battery.
- An HEV consists of two engines – the first is an electric motor and the second is the gasoline engine. At low speeds or when the car is standing, the gasoline engine automatically shuts down and the electric motor takes over. Thus, in traffic jams a lot of fuel is saved. When required to accelerate, the gas engine comes alive on its own. Thus, the HEVs combine the benefits of Internal Combustion Gasoline Engine with the Electric Motor. This balance of electrical and gas energy at their optimum levels is the greatest advantage of these hybrids.
- The battery used in these cars is composed of nickel-metal hydride and has a very long live, probably more than the car itself.
Environmental Advantages of Hybrid Electric Vehicles
- As the number of automobiles is increasing day by day, the world is facing the threat of toxic pollutants and global warming, due to their exhaust. At such a time, HEVs prove to be a boon for the mankind since they benefit the environment in the following ways:
- The electric motor used in hybrid electric vehicles is very smooth and decreases the noise pollution.
- Driving a hybrid is synonymous with the fact that you care for your planet because HEVs save the valuable fossil fuels and also keep the environment clean.
- Electrical energy is used during the starting of the car and during low driving speeds. This imparts a check on the tailpipe emissions. Hence they reduce the percentage of toxic gases in the environment which are also responsible for global warming.
- Gasoline utilisation is reduced because during traffic stops and steep slopes, the electric motor takes over. Thus HEVs are environmentally beneficial in comparison to gasoline cars as they use less oil.
Policy and Political Advantages of Hybrid Electric Vehicles
Considering the fact that the HEVs are the cars of the future, policy makers are coming up with various methods to encourage its use. By reducing the dependence on oil, this technology can impact the global political situation where oil is a precious commodity.
- HEVs can prove to be very important for the countries dependant on other nations for its fuel requirements. Since they reduce gasoline consumption, they also reduce dependence on foreign oil. Hence by driving a hybrid we can put an end to our dependence on fossil fuels from other countries. In this way we can increase Energy Security.
- The soaring prices of oil accompanied with the increasing awareness amongst the people regarding deteriorating environmental conditions are forcing many car manufacturers to enter the market of hybrid cars. Considering these factors, the government is also encouraging the car companies to research in this area.
- The government provides federal exemptions and other tax incentives for the hybrid car buyer in order to promote the use of hybrid cars.
- According to the law, all vehicles are required to regularly pass an emission inspection which is quite time consuming. But in many states, hybrids are exempt from this requirement
Driving Advantages of Hybrid Electric Vehicles
Without appropriate designing, any great technology will be a waste. Hence behind the success of these HEVs, technically as well as commercially, many factors regarding its designing are responsible. Manoeuvring on the road is simpler due to the following reasons:
- Special light weight materials are used in these cars to reduce the weight of the vehicle. Lighter engine and compact size of the HEVs make these hybrids very fuel efficient.
- If fuel economy is the factor to check the performance, HEVs are way ahead any other car. Greater fuel-efficiency is the trademark of these hybrids.
- Another advantage is that the range of these hybrids is quite high. For example, Honda Insight runs 700 miles on single tank while the Prius can run 500 miles.
- The driving experience is a major factor in comparing cars. Hybrid electric cars do not compromise with the comfort and reliability of the car, providing more mileage than its gasoline counterpart at the same time. The behind-the-wheel experience in these hybrids is similar, if not better, than other cars
Further, driving a hybrid is a unique experience as most people across you will be driving a gasoline based car. Many celebrities have shifted to hybrids which is adding to the status symbol attached to these cars.
Economical Advantages of Hybrid Electric Vehicles
HEVs are as financially friendly as they are environmentally friendly. If not immediately, they pay back the high initial investment in the long run. Some of the advantages regarding cost are mentioned below:
- Hybrids use regenerative braking, hence it saves the money spent on traditional brakes which is not a cheap maintenance task.
- There is fewer loads on gas engine, hence engine oil is changed less frequently in hybrids, thus reducing the maintenance cost.
- HEVS are just as economically friendly as they are environmentally friendly.
- Apart from fuel savings, there are tax incentives, purchase incentives, low fee for registration and federal tax credits to overcome the high initial investment in hybrid cars.
- Since HEVs run partially on battery, the rising oil prices do not much affect the owner. Also, special long term warranties are provided for battery, electric motor and other expensive components.