With an increased focus on environmentally-friendly vehicles, global car manufacturers are increasingly developing ‘hybrid cars’ which are powered by an electric motor and a standard combustion engine (also known as a hybrid engine). The electric motor does not require fuel and is powered by rechargeable batteries, while the hybrid engine is smaller and more fuel-efficient (compared to combustion engines offering similar power); this makes hybrids eco-friendly vehicles. As of this year, hybrid cars now account for approximately 10%* of the global vehicle market.
This move to go ‘green’ was not voluntary because of the higher cost of the equipment required during the design, research and performance testing of hybrid cars. Despite this, luxury automakers – including Ferrari, Lamborghini and McLaren – known for rolling out super and hypercars, are now focusing on hybrids. This is partially driven by the fact that an electric motor gives added horse power and torque.
Perhaps the most interesting and yet lesser known fact about hybrids is that until a speed of 100 km/h is reached, it is the electric motor that is powering the car. When this speed is exceeded (or when the electric motor’s batteries lose charge), the fuel engine will take over and charge the electric motor’s batteries at the same time.
In Pakistan, the most popular hybrid is the Toyota Prius, launched in 2013, and priced at approximately Rs 4.5 million. Honda then entered the market with the CR-Z and the Civic Hybrid (priced at approximately Rs 2 and 2.5 million respectively). For people looking for more power and speed, hybrids from well-known, international automakers are also being imported.
The higher price is offset by lower running costs since when the car is running on batteries, not only are carbon emissions minimal, but no fuel is consumed.
– Jafer Khan
*Source: J.D. Power and Associates, 2015.
First published in the ADBUZZZZ Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on April 19, 2015.