Electric Vehicles vs Strong Hybrids: The Electrification Dilemma

  • Dec 12, 2022
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Hybrids and battery-EVs are both powered by e-motors and battery packs, but here’s how they differ

There’s no doubt that battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are quickly gaining popularity throughout the world and are often advertised as the future of personal transportation. However, BEVs are still far from replacing conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in the current scenario, owing to their limited range (among affordable models), high cost and lack of a widespread charging network and service. 

Hybrids, especially strong-hybrid vehicles, bridge the gap between pure ICE cars and EVs, by offering stellar fuel economy and a part-time electric driving mode in addition to emissions reduction over ICE cars to an extent. 

Here’s how BEVs and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) compare and contrast with each other:

Powertrain differences

The biggest difference between hybrids and EVs is under the bonnet. In essence, hybrids use the combined output of an IC engine and e-motor fed by a small battery to move the car, while EVs only have an e-motor paired with a large battery.

Electric vehicles have fewer moving parts, which makes them relatively easier to maintain with regular servicing. On the other hand, hybrid powertrains, especially strong-hybrid and plug-in hybrid, can be quite complex, allowing for a combination of ICE only, EV only and combined driving modes, according to different driving conditions. You can find out more about the workings of different strong-hybrid powertrains in the link below:

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That said, EVs would require a change in your driving style, especially on the highway, where they are less efficient. That’s not the case with hybrids, you can drive them just the way you did an ICE car.  

Which is the more eco-friendly option?

BEVs clearly have an environmental advantage over hybrids and ICE vehicles. Not only do they have zero tailpipe emissions on their own, but their lifetime emissions compare well with ICE cars and hybrids, too.  

That said, hybrids do offer lower emissions than pure ICE cars, and can even be driven primarily in EV mode for a short distance. Still, they aren’t as clean as an EV. 

Ease of refueling 

EVs come with range anxiety and require a robust public fast-charging network to be practical to use as regular cars, which, in India, is currently a work in progress. 

On the other hand, in the case of a hybrid, you would simply need to fill your tank to the brim at any of the fuel outlets prevalent across the nation by the thousands, which takes hardly a few minutes. An electric car, such as a Tata Tiago EV, takes around one hour to juice up using a DC fast-charger.

Driving an EV also requires a whole deal of planning prior to setting out, especially if you’re on the highway, as one needs to find out how many fast-chargers are there en route. This will add a whole lot of time to your journey, just because you have to charge your car when the battery level is low. That’s not the case with a hybrid car.

Range 

Hybrid cars typically boast a longer range than ICE-only cars. For example, we have been able to drive the Honda City Hybrid over 800km on a single tank of fuel. But in BEVs such as the Tata Nexon EV Max we could only manage a range of nearly 300km. EVs with larger batteries, such as the Kia EV6 good for over 700km of range, do bridge the gap to an extent, but are significantly costlier.

Price

Whether you go for a BEV or HEV, electrification comes at a hefty premium. Hybrids are typically a leap of around Rs 2.5 lakh (depending on the model) over their petrol-only counterparts. EVs can be pricier still – the Nexon EV Prime costs almost twice as much as a base-spec petrol Nexon, while the top-spec variant is around Rs 4 lakh dearer than the ICE-powered variant. 

So technically, hybrids command a much less premium at the moment over EVs, and with the technology gaining boost slowly with introduction of new models like the Toyota Innova Hycross, we suspect Hybrids will be the next big thing in our market that will bridge the gap between EVs and ICE-powered cars. However, if you’re ready to make a lifestyle change by adapting new habits and changes, then an EV also makes a lot of sense. 

Whether you choose hybrids or EVs, electrified drivetrains present a stepping stone into the future of transportation with their seamless power delivery and array of efficient technologies.

Tata Nexon EV Prime 2020-2023 Video Review

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