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Understanding Hybrid Cars – A Comprehensive Guide to Hybrid Cars

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hybrid-cars

The very mention of “Hybrid Cars” and these days everyone thinks of the Toyota Prius. But did you know that the Prius wasn’t the first Hybrid Car? And that even though we have become familiar with the concept of Hybrid Vehicle thanks to it, the first hybrid car was designed by Porsche?

Hybrid Cars – A brief history

Jacob Lohner – a coach builder from Vienna – is widely considered to be the pioneer of Hybrid Vehicles. In the early 20th century, hybridization of vehicles wasn’t to gain more fuel economy. Rather their invention was pushed by the fact that traditional cars with their internal-combustion engine were quickly becoming disliked owing to their foul-smelling emissions.

Lohner, at that time, reached out to a very young engineer in the automotive industry – Ferdinand Porsche. At the young age of 21, Porsche created an electric motor that fit inside the hub of the wheel, and was completely battery operated. Lohner loved the design and asked Porsche to fit his motor inside one of the coaches that Lohner was already manufacturing. The outcome was what is the first Electric car – The Elektromobil.

Lohner-Porsche Elektromobil made its first public appearance at the Paris Exposition in the year 1900. This was almost a century before we ever heard the name Prius.

Initially, the Elektromobil was completely powered by the electric wheel hubs that Porsche had built. But keeping the battery charged was quickly becoming a major challenge. To mitigate this issue, Porsche went ahead and built a gasoline powered internal combustion engine that ran a generator, which in turn charged the battery. Effectively, building the world’s first Hybrid.

As per estimates, Lohner and Porsche sold roughly 300 units of their Elektromobil. Post that, their work and the idea of Hybrid cars faded into the books of history.

Even after that, barring a few automotive experts, the concept of a “Hybrid Cars” was hitherto unheard of. People had no idea what a hybrid car was or that such a mode of transport even existed. And no car company was considering a hybrid to be a viable business model.

Prius makes an entrance

In the year 1997, Toyota took the reigns by launching the Prius in Japan. Widely considered the pioneering hybrid car, that took the concept of Hybridization to the mainstream. Four years later, in 2001, Prius saw a worldwide launch and car owners around the world wanted to own one. In just 6 years following that, by 2007,  Toyota surpassed one-million units in Prius sales around the world. This made it the most widely accepted Hybrid in history.

What are Hybrid Cars?

Traditional cars have an internal combustion engine that is powered by gasoline or diesel. Hybrid cars have an internal combustion engine as well that are powered by the above mentioned fuels, but over and above that – they have at least one electric motor and use both of these to move the vehicle.

The car’s movement is sometimes powered by the Electric motor alone, in which case no fuel is used. At other times, the movement is powered by the internal combustion engine alone, in which case fuel is burnt. And at other times, both engines work in conjunction to move the car.

The overall result is less burning of fuel, thereby resulting in better fuel economy for the driver.

The term “hybrid” literally means – “a certain thing built by the combination of two different things”. In this case, the two different things are the traditional internal combustion engine and the modern electric motor. Hence the term, Hybrid Cars.

Electricity in a hybrid car comes from a high voltage battery pack in the car (this is separate from the traditional 12-volt battery that comes with every car). Hybrid cars also employ a system called “regenerative braking” – this charges the battery every time the brakes are applied by processing the energy/heat generated during braking. The gas engine also recharges the battery in many cases.

What are the different types of Hybrid Cars?

Though “Hybrid Cars” is an umbrella term for any vehicle that sports a gas engine and an electric engine together – not every car is built alike. Various manufacturers build hybrid cars to satiate varying requirements – some are built to increase the fuel economy to the maximum possible level, while others are built to bring down the cost of the vehicle.

Let’s take a look at the various types of Hybrid Cars in the market today –

Plug-in Hybrids

Hybrid Car Charging

This is the closest Hybrid cars get to full electric vehicles in terms of recharging/refueling. A Plug-in Hybrid as the name suggests is the kind of car wherein the engine can be charged through an electric socket.

Plug-in Hybrids sport the biggest battery pack out of all kinds of Hybrid cars and can be charged at your home, office or even at a public charging station.

Think of it like having a bigger tank of gas. Once recharged, these cars can give you a decent mileage per charge that can range from 25 to 55 miles per full charge.

These cars work exceptionally well for people with a short daily commute. Since, if recharged every night, the car is almost always powered by electric charge and never touches the fuel in the tank.

In the event that the electric charge is depleted completely, the car reverts to becoming a standard “Parallel Hybrid”, a form of Hybrid Cars explained below. However, there are some Plug-in Hybrids that are “Series Hybrids” as well – another form, explained below.

Most Common Examples of Plug-in Hybrids are the Mitsubishi Outlander P-HEV, Chevrolet Volt cars and the Toyota Prius PHV.

Parallel Hybrids

This is the most common for Hybrid Cars available on the market. Parallel Hybrids, as the name suggests, boast of a design, where the electric motor and the gas engine connect to a single transmission. This moves the car by blending the two sources of power.

The kind of transmission employed by the vehicle and the size of its gas engines determines the acceleration, look & feel and even the sound of the vehicle.

Most Common Examples of Parallel Hybrids are the Toyota Prius, Lexus RX 400 and the Toyota Highlander.

Series Hybrid

In this form of Hybrid Cars, the electric motor powers the car entirely and the gasoline engine never comes in contact with the wheels. The sole purpose of the gasoline engine in a Series Hybrid car is to recharge the batteries, in order for the electric engine to power the car.

Since the electric engine powers the driving almost entirely – the driving experience is very similar to that of an all-electric car.

The only known issue is the unintentional revving of the engine. This is known to make some users uncomfortable.

The car does have an internal-combustion engine, even if only for charging the battery. And when the battery needs to be recharged, the engine begins revving on its own. So you might hear it rev, even when you’re cruising at medium speed, thereby making you uncomfortable.

Most Common Example of Series Hybrids is the Fisker Karma.

Uncategorized Hybrid Cars

The Hybrid Cars industry has had over two decades of research, engineering and development. As a result of this, there are cars that don’t conform to a particular bracket of hybrids. It’s almost impossible to classify them as a Series or a Parallel Hybrid.

Honda, for instance, has a unique design that makes it both a Series Hybrid and a Parallel Hybrid. Like a Series Hybrid, the gas engine in their design keeps on recharging the battery. However, like a Parallel Hybrid, the gasoline engine can also power the car.

Volvo, on the other hand, has a range of plug-in hybrids that use the traditional gas engine to power the front wheels. While the car’s rear axle is powered by an electric engine.

Mild Hybrids

Then there are Mild Hybrids – which are not complete hybrids. In the case of Mild Hybrids, the electric engine doesn’t power the wheels at all, it, however, assists the main internal-combustion engine to help improve the fuel economy and performance of the vehicle.

The fuel economy benefits of Mild Hybrids is nothing in comparison to other Hybrid cars. Owing to this reason, they failed to achieve mainstream popularity. However, in recent months, they’re making a comeback of sorts – with cars like Audi A6, A7 and A8 and even the Mercedes-Benz E-Class adopting a 48-volt electrical sub-system to compliment their traditional high powered internal combustion engine.

Essentially, some or the other form of hybridization is now evident in almost every new model of cars.

Features and Benefits of owning a Hybrid Car

The electric battery powering a Hybrid Car not only helps with the fuel economy. But with additional performance and energy saving features as well.

Idle-Off

This is arguably one of the best features of a Hybrid Car. Think of the small sensor located at the top of the front side of your phone, right besides the camera. When you’re in a call, as soon as you hold the phone to your ears, the sensor shuts off the screen, thereby preserving battery. Similarly, the screen turns back on almost immediately when you remove the phone from your ears. During this entire time, the phone is on and you won’t miss a text or another call or an email.

Hybrid cars have a similar feature called “Idle-off”. When the car is idle for a certain duration of time, the main engine shuts off, automatically. Such as when stuck in traffic, or when at a stoplight or waiting for someone.

The other features such as the air-conditioner and the screen or dashboard lights keep working, thanks to the electric engine. The electric motor can restart the car almost seamlessly when moving and even engage the conventional engine when needed. This results in huge fuel savings.

Regenerative Braking

This is yet another fuel-saving feature. When applying brakes in a traditional car, it almost entirely relies on friction. This results in the vehicle’s kinetic energy turning into heat and gradually dissipating in the air.

However, in Hybrid cars, some of these energy recharges the batteries. This, in turn, can power the car’s various components and even start or move the car when needed.

Power Assist

Another feature that essentially assists the traditional gas engine. This results in the load on the gas engine to become greatly reduced. Thereby, allowing a reduction in its size.

Smaller gasoline engines produce less power on their own. However, in conjunction with electric engines, their capability fairly increases. These Hybrid Engines are capable of producing power that can equal or even exceed traditional gas only vehicles.

Electric-Only Drive and Electric Assist

Hybrids that sport a larger battery-pack (such as plug-in hybrids) can allow their users to enjoy extended drives. That too at relatively higher speeds on electricity alone without using the gasoline engine at all.

In Hybrids that are not be plug-in, the electric engine starts the car and can even drive at low speeds.

In either case, this results in far less fuel utilization..

On a final note

Hybrid cars have the potential to protect the environment and the climate. Not only this, it is also capable of protecting the consumer.

Reduced fuel usage is the need of the hour. And Hybrid cars are a great solution. They also rank very highly on the maintenance scale and require very little maintenance.

As a car owner, when owning a Hybrid, you gain from the enormous fuel saving benefits of Hybrid Cars. While at the same time doing your part for the planet.

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Factors to Consider When Comparing Electric Cars – What to Look For?

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Electric Car

These days when you think of going for an electric car, there are a variety of options available on the market. The electric car market has boomed as car manufacturers and people have realized how much better electric cars are for the environment. There are various types of electric cars that employ different technologies, so it can sometimes be hard to choose as the choice can be quite overwhelming for people new to electric cars. They all have different characteristics based on things like emissions, mileage on full charge, charging times, cost, etc.

The types of electric vehicles (EVs) can include fully electric ones like Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) or partially electric ones like Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) and Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs). Due to their different working mechanisms, they all have different characteristics and factors to consider before buying them. There are also different trade offs you will need to make, such as mileage range and cost.

The factors you need to consider can also vary depending on your own personal preferences and circumstances. For example, you may need to ask yourself questions like:

  • Are you buying this car to mostly do short distance or long-distance journeys?
  • Do you have a particular budget in mind?
  • Would you prefer a lower upfront cost, or are long-term cost savings more important to you?
  • Do you live in an area were EV technology has been established, and where there are numerous charging stations?

The Different Types of Electric Cars

The term ‘electric car’ is rather a broad term as it can cover many different types of electric cars. The term can refer to full electric cars such as BEVs and FCEVs that rely solely on electricity to drive the vehicle, to hybrid vehicles that use both gasoline and electricity in conjunction. The one thing all electric cars have in common is that they use an electric motor to carry out all or even a part of the car’s key functions. The electric motor is driven by electric current drawn from a power source such as a battery pack (in BEVs) or fuel cells (FCEVs).

Most electric cars also employ regenerative braking to prevent the kinetic energy during a car’s deceleration from being converted to and wasted as heat. In regenerative braking, the car’s motor turns in the reverse direction during the braking. In the reverse direction, the induction motor now becomes a generator and converts the kinetic energy of the braking to electrical energy which can be stored in the battery pack for future use.

Electric cars can be classified into:

Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs)

These are fully electric vehicles that produce no emissions or waste products while driving. They rely solely on electrical energy stored in the battery packs for all the functions in the car. They do not have an internal combustion engine, just the electric motor to run everything.

Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs)

These are also fully electric vehicles and they draw the electric current to run the motor from a fuel cell. The fuel cell generates electrical current from the electrochemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. These don’t cause CO2 emissions, but they do produce steam or water vapor as it is a by-product of the chemical reaction.

Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs)

Hybrid Electric Vehicles use both electricity and petrol/diesel for key functions. So, they have both an electric motor as well as an internal combustion engine. They use the electric motor at low speeds where the motor can produce higher torque and the ICE at higher speeds as the engine is more efficient at higher speeds.

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs)

These are hybrid vehicles that can be charged with an external power source, unlike your typical HEV that cannot be recharged. Similar to typical hybrids, however, they can also alternate between electricity and gasoline.

Extended Range Electric Vehicles (E-REVs)

E-REVs are a type of PHEV that can cover a greater range on electricity alone.

A General Guide to Important Factors When Comparing Electric Cars

Range of the Electric Car

This is perhaps one of the most important performance indicators to keep in mind when comparing any cars, not just electric cars. In a traditional gasoline powered vehicle, the range refers to the maximum distance that the car can travel on a full gas tank. For electric cars, the maximum range refers to the maximum distance that can be covered by the car on single full charge of the battery. With FCEVs, the range would refer to the maximum distance that can be covered on a full tank of hydrogen fuel.

Charging Times and Range

Especially for BEVs and PHEVs, range is extremely important because it will determine how often you will have to recharge the battery. One of the biggest complaints about electric cars is that they are inconvenient to charge and take a long time to do so. If you don’t have the necessary equipment and charge the car on a standard electrical outlet at home, it can take the whole night to charge. This method of charging will give you 2-5 miles per hour of charging.

To get a faster charging time, you would need an EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) that operate on a 220/240 V circuit and can charge quicker than a standard outlet. An hour of charge will get you a mileage of about 10-25 miles.

The fastest charging method is to use a DC fast charger. These can give a full charge within an hour. Companies like Tesla have taken these even further, where their superchargers can get you a full charge in 30 minutes.

To put out a few numbers for perspective, here are some typical mileage values that can be achieved with an hour on an EVSE for some typical electric car models:

  • Chevy Spark- 11 miles added per hour
  • Fiat 500e- 22 miles added per hour
  • Ford Fusion Energi- 11 miles added per hour
  • BMW i3- 25 miles added per hour
  • Kia Soul- 22 miles added per hour
  • Mercedes B-class Electric- 29 miles added per hour

Speed of Charge and Maximum Range

So, here there are technically two things to consider when thinking about the range of an EV: how quickly it can be charged to full (how many miles are added per hour of charging) and the maximum range itself.

In EVs in general, it is hard to get a large range when running on electricity alone. Here are some typical maximum ranges (maximum distance per full single charge) for some popular EV models:

  • Nissan Leaf- 107 miles
  • Tesla Model S- 250 miles
  • Tesla Model X- 300 miles

Note that these electric car models are all BEVs, so they are fully electric.

Price of the Electric Car

As with any product, important decisions all boil down to the price tag and operating costs. With EVs, there are many costs to consider before making a purchase. You need to consider the upfront cost of the car, the charging or fuel costs and any potential replacement part costs.

For EVs, there are a lot of trade offs with price and cost. For example, a lot of high range EVs have high upfront costs. So, while they don’t need to be charged as often and you would save on refuelling costs, you still would need to pay up a lot of money. This upfront cost can take a while before they pay off over the years with reduced fuel costs.

High-end EVs with high ranges can cost over $80,000 for models like Tesla’s X model. More affordable options are also available, however, such as the Nissan Leaf and the Hyundai Ioniq series.

Other costs could include the cost of an EV charging station if you plan to get one. A good charger can cost you around $700.

Electricity Prices

The most important operating cost for an EV is the price of electricity. This could vary, depending on where you live. In general though, electricity is cheaper than gasoline fuel, so your ‘fuel’ costs can be significantly cut down with EVs.

Hydrogen Fuel Prices

If you’re one of the brave few who are planning to go for an FCEV, you would need to consider the costs of hydrogen fuel. As the technology behind FCEVs are relatively new and there’s not much demand for FCEVs compared to other EV types such as hybrids and BEVs, hydrogen fuel is not that economical.

Charging Stations

If you don’t have a charging station of your own, you should consider how many EV charging stations there are close to where you live. If there aren’t many, it could be inconvenient for you to buy full electric cars such as BEVs.

Fuel Economy

Another important factor to consider is fuel economy or what’s traditionally known as miles per gallon (mpg) for traditional vehicles. For electric cars, because full electric cars don’t use gasoline and electricity isn’t measured in gallons, there’s something known as eMPG or equivalent miles per gallon.  These values can be used not only to compare EVs with each other, but also EVs with traditional cars.

The eMPG is somewhat similar to the range we talked about before. eMPG is the distance covered by the EV for the electricity equivalent of a gallon of petrol or diesel.

Before deciding to purchase an EV or what kind of EV, you need to consider general factors like cost and range. However, you also need to think about your individual demands. What kind of trips do you make? If you only need to make short-range trips, then you wouldn’t need to invest in an expensive, high-range EV. So, it all depends on making trade-offs with cost and performance.

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Hybrid Cars – Your Most Common Questions Answered

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BMW i8 Hybrid

Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) were first popularized in the late 1990s. Primarily, through the introduction of hybrid car models such as the Toyota Prius. The Prius is considered to be the pioneer of hybrid cars. It single-handedly created the market for hybrid vehicles in the US. Now, HEVs are soaring in popularity due to rapid innovation in the automotive industry.

It’s not surprising why major automotive players like Toyota, BMW and Ford want to get ahead in the game. As climate change becomes more and more of a pressing issue. And people continue to realize how damaging gasoline car emissions are to the atmosphere. Electrification seems like a natural way forward in the automotive industry. Electric vehicles are undergoing incredible innovations that are constantly pushing the technical limits of earlier hybrids.

However, with so much buzz around electric cars and hybrids. It is hard to keep up with them and easy to get confused. The media uses ‘electric cars’ as an umbrella term with a very broad definition. It includes both full-electric cars like Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and semi-electric cars like Hybrids.

There are many variations of ‘electric vehicles’ and they all employ different working technology. So, it is easy to confuse them all. Here, we aim to clear the air about some of the confusion around HEVs.

What Exactly Are Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs)?

To start off, we need a clear picture of what HEVs really are. HEVs are a type of electric vehicle (EV). An EV refers to any vehicle that uses an electric power to carry out all or some of the key functions of the car. All full and semi-electric cars utilize an electric motor to carry out tasks in the car. This motor is driven by either a battery pack (collection of thousands of individual battery cells). Or a fuel cell (generates electricity through electrochemical reactions in the fuel cell).

Full electric cars like Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) use only electric power to drive the vehicle. The electric current from either a battery pack (BEVs) or a fuel cell (FCEVs) are used to power an electric motor, which drives the car. So, they do not have internal combustion engines or any of its associated parts.

Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) are semi-electric vehicles that combine EV technology with regular gasoline powered cars. They use both electric power and gasoline to drive the vehicle. So, they use both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. HEVs would also need both a fuel tank and a battery pack. HEV batteries cannot be charged using an external source. They are charged internally during regenerative braking (system to capture energy while braking).

Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) are also a variation of HEVs and are one of the most common and effective hybrid variants.

As hybrid vehicles partially rely on gasoline, they also produce emissions, but less than regular gasoline cars.

What’s the difference between HEVs and PHEVs?

As mentioned earlier, all EVs including all hybrids employ regenerative braking to recover some of the kinetic energy that would otherwise be lost as heat when a car brakes. The main difference between conventional hybrids and plug-in hybrids is that, the battery of a plug-in hybrid vehicle can be charged with an external source. In conventional hybrids, the batteries are only charged through regenerative braking. Hence, plug-in hybrids can rely more on electric power and travel a greater range using just electric power, compared to conventional hybrids.

In conventional hybrids, the electric motor is there to provide some support for the combustion engine, not to replace it. They will use electric power for small tasks instead of relying on it to drive the vehicle.

Since, plug-in hybrids can rely more on electric power, they produce less greenhouse gas emissions than conventional hybrids.

What are some examples of Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs)

Some examples of conventional hybrid models include:

  • 2005-2006 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid
  • Ford Fusion Hybrid
  • Ford Escape Hybrid
  • Toyota Prius

Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles are now more common. Some examples include:

  • Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid- widely considered to be the top hybrid car of recent years
  • Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid
  • 2018 MINI Cooper SE Countryman
  • 2018 KIA Niro
  • 2007 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2018 KIA Optima
  • 2018 Honda Clarity

How do HEVs work?

In a nutshell, HEVs work by using both the internal combustion engine and the electric motor during the conditions where they work best. Usually, at low speeds, electric motors are quite effective and can produce high torque. Combustion engines can’t produce high torque at low speeds. Hence, the electric motor is used at these speeds. At higher speeds, the combustion engine is more effective, so it is used at higher speeds.

The switch between the motor and combustion engine is determined electronically, where the system decides which one gives the optimum performance at the current driving conditions.

What are the main components of an HEV/PHEV?

Electric Motor

This is the main motor used for propelling the vehicle and draws electric power from the battery pack. Some EVs use a motor-generator that act as both a motor to drive the vehicle and a generator to produce current from regenerative braking.

Battery Pack

A collection of individual battery cells that store electrical energy for use by the electric motor to drive the vehicle. Hybrids rely only partially on electric power, so the battery pack doesn’t have to be as big and powerful like in full electric vehicles.

The type of batteries used depends on the type and manufacturer of the car. Some manufacturers use Lithium-Ion but for hybrids, the most commonly used battery type is Nickel-Metal Hydride as it is more economical than Lithium-Ion.

Internal Combustion Engine

Fuel is injected either into combustion chamber or intake manifold. The fuel-air mixture is ignited with a spark plug to move the piston.

Gasoline Fuel Tanks

Stores gasoline onboard the vehicle.

Auxiliary Battery

Used in addition to the battery pack for small functions like starting the car and to power accessories.

DC/DC Converter

Steps down voltage of the power from the battery pack to the low voltage needed for the accessories to work.

Power Controller

This electronic system controls the amount of current that flows from the battery pack to the electric motor, thereby controlling its speed, torque and the speed of the car itself.

Transmission System

Delivers mechanical power from the engine using a system of gears to drive the wheels. This can be used with or instead of the electric motor to deliver power to the wheels.

Charging Port

For PHEVs, it allows the battery pack to be charged using an external power source.

Cooling Systems

Maintains an optimal vehicle temperature needed for the electric motor, power controller and engine to function smoothly.

Inverter/Onboard Charger

The current coming from the external power source during charging is in AC. The charger converts this AC current into DC current that is compatible with the battery pack to be stored.

What are the main advantages of a Hybrid Vehicle over regular cars?

There are a myriad of benefits of choosing a hybrid vehicle over a regular gasoline car.

Superior Fuel Economy

For regular petrol or diesel cars, the fuel economy simply means how much distance the car can travel in miles per gallon of fuel and is measured in miles per gallon (mpg). As electricity is not measured in gallons, the fuel economy for full-electric cars and hybrids are measured in equivalent miles per gallon (MPGe).

Here, consider the amount of electricity with the same energy as a gallon of fuel and how far the car can travel with this amount of electricity. Regular petrol and diesel cars, even some of the top ones have MPGs I the range 30-65. With hybrid vehicles, particularly plug-in hybrids, MPGs can reach up to 130 MPGe. The Toyota Prius Hybrid has a fuel economy of 133 MPGe (electric and gas combined) and a regular gas MPG of 54. Meanwhile the Honda Clarity has a rating of 110 MPGe (combined electric and gas) and a regular gas rating of 42 MPG.

Hybrids have better fuel economy because electric motors are more efficient than combustion engines, and they have energy saving mechanisms such as regenerative braking, which means less fuel is wasted as heat.

Better Range

As hybrids tend to have better fuel economy than regular gasoline cars, some of them can have really high ranges that are high enough to compete with top gasoline powered cars. Another important factor to look at for an HEV is the all-electric range. This is the maximum distance that can be travelled using electric power alone, without engaging the combustion engine. The higher the range, the longer you can go without charging and the less emissions you will release.  Some top PHEVs with high all-electric ranges include:

  1. 25 miles – 2018 Toyota Prius Prime
  2. 29 miles – 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In
  3. 26 miles – 2018 Kia Niro Plug-In
  4. 47 miles – 2018 Honda Clarity
  5. 53 miles – 2018 Chevrolet Volt

Lower Emissions

Because hybrid vehicles tend to have better fuel economy, they tend to use less fuel to travel the same distance. Hence, they release lesser emissions. The higher their maximum all-electric range, the lower the emissions would be.

Lower Fuel Costs

Especially for Plug-In Hybrids where you can rely more on electric power and less on gasoline fuel, you can make significant fuel cost savings per year. This is because generally, the price of electricity is lower than that of gasoline. Gasoline prices are also more volatile. In a study, it was found that using an electric vehicle can cut your fuel costs by more than half per year . This in comparison to regular gasoline vehicles.

Less Maintenance and Repair

Hybrid Electric Vehicles have more electronic control to change key functions in the car such as its speed. A lot of mechanical parts, do this in in gasoline vehicles. As a lot of moving mechanical parts are a source of failure for vehicles, with hybrids you can save maintenance and repair work, and associated costs.

How do you charge a hybrid vehicles?

Charging is mainly for plug-in hybrid vehicles as you can’t charge a conventional hybrid vehicle. An external power source can charge plugin hybrids. You can use standard 120V outlets at home, but this will take a while to reach full charge. Usually, if you charge with this method at home, you will need to leave the car overnight to get full charge.

A faster way to charge is using an EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) that operates on a 220/240V circuit. The time it takes to charge can vary depending on the type of car and battery. Typically, an hour of charging on an EVSE will add 10-25 miles of range. So, it would take 2-3 hours to be fully charged. You can get your own EVSE or head to an EV charging station.

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Surviving Long Car Trips with Babies & Toddlers

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Travel Activities for Infants and Tots during Family Road Trips

Traveling with kids, particularly babies and toddlers, requires a lot of planning and preparation. Older children on long car trips can be distracted with a variety of activities due to their ability to read, write and count. But for babies and toddlers, the activities are somewhat limited. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be good traveling companions.

What parents need are some essential items for the car such as a diaper bag, tissues and wipes, first aid kit and food as well as a few fun car games to keep the little ones happy and occupied while on long car trips.

Baby Toys

Babies and toys get along just fine. And that’s why it’s a good idea to bring several small toys along. Don’t take them all out at the same time, though. Take them out one at a time so that they all stay “new”. When the baby seems to have grown bored with one toy, put it away and present her with another one. Parents can also buy some cheap and small toys when making stops during the journey.

Playing Peekaboo

Babies are often fond of playing peekaboo. Adults or older children in the car can all take turns to play peekaboo with the baby. Pulling funny faces is also highly entertaining for babies!

Dealing with Crying

The good news is that most babies can sleep through most of their journey. The bad news is when they get cranky, they may cry non-stop for a long while. Here are some tips to deal with crying while on the road.

  • Make sure the pacifier, blanket, and favorite toy are within easy reach.
  • If the crying continues, stop the car and check for rashes and other signs of discomfort.
  • Maintain the baby’s routine, particularly when it comes to feeding time and sleep time.
  • If the journey takes a few days, lodge at hotel rooms with a small kitchen or at least a microwave oven to heat up milk and cook simple, fast meals.
  • Assign someone who can tolerate loud and incessant crying for more than 10 minutes as the driver.

Surprise Goodie Bag

Toddlers will enjoy surprise goodie bags. Give each toddler a small bag filled with five to seven items such as small toys, stickers, balloons, picture books, coloring books, crayons, pencils, and erasers. Don’t open the bag and let them see the contents. Instead, get them to feel the bag and guess what the things inside are. Ask the children to guess the item one by one.

The guessing game itself will have eliminated a few minutes of boredom in the car. And when all the contents are revealed, the kids can get busy with them. To make drawing and coloring activities easier, invest in a snack and play travel tray for each toddler in the car.

Naming and Counting Objects

This is a good and fun way to learn new words and grasp numeracy concepts for toddlers. Use the objects you see as learning tools. Watch out for cows, horses, sheep, rivers, farms, houses, hills and other vehicles on the road. Name and count them as the car passes them by. However, be sure not to count to more than 10. Keep things simple and fun for the kids.

Singing and Rhyming

What’s a car trip without singing and rhyming? Get some CDs with children’s songs and nursery rhymes and sing along. Again, it’s a great way to learn new words. No children’s CDs? No worries! Just belt out any song to keep things alive in the car. Kids will love it too if Mum or Dad can sing off-tune or make silly sounds when singing.

Keeping babies and toddlers happy and amused on a long family road trip is challenging but not impossible. Just be sure to bring along their toys, coloring books, and crayons, have a contingency plan to manage crying and be prepared to play silly games and sing funny songs.

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