As environmental demands increase and consumer habits change, automakers are looking for ways to reduce the negative impact on the environment while meeting the wants and needs of drivers.
One answer is hybrid cars, which have gasoline and electric motors. The next step in this direction are plug-in or rechargeable hybrids, which can function both as electric cars and as conventional internal combustion cars.
In the city – electric, but on the highway – gasoline engine
Today, the range and capabilities of plug-in hybrids are greater than ever. For example, the latest French Citroën C5 Aircross PHEV lets you enjoy original design and comfort, as well as the practicality of SUV models and the economy of a hybrid. The Volkswagen Tiguan plug-in hybrid recently debuted in Latvia, and Ford, Peugeot and Jeep also offer models using this hybrid drive, as well as several manufacturers in the premium segment.
In the city, these cars can be driven in the same way as ordinary electric cars, and if you want, you can also take more trips outside the city, which is one of the biggest advantages of rechargeable hybrids.
“As long as the plug-in hybrid uses only electricity, it is a pure electric car with all the moral and environmental benefits of such a car. If there were more vehicles of this type, it would certainly be possible to avoid urban pollution and travel freely. When you travel around the city on a daily basis, you can only use electricity, but if you need to go to a country house or some other place, everything is simple, because you know that that car will go anywhere, because it also has a regular gasoline engine. You are simply not a hostage to the public electric charging infrastructure, ”says Aldis Zelmenis, creator of the TV Auto news program, who has tested many plug-in hybrids and experienced various challenges with them.
Ingars Tenis, car inspector and editor-in-chief of the Internet portal TVNET Auto, also points out that plug-in hybrids are an excellent choice for Latvian conditions.
“Compared to 100% electric cars, which rely directly on plug-in hybrids for public electric charging infrastructure, there is more freedom of movement. With a relatively small electrical power supply, the car’s internal combustion engine allows you to drive. wherever and whenever you want, since it has the appropriate infrastructure. In this case, we are already talking about two cars, and the plug-in hybrid allows you to drive in the city like an electric car, but on the highway, like a common car “, he emphasizes journalist.
Electricity alone will suffice for daily needs.
With the latest plug-in hybrids, you can drive 40 to 60 km on electricity alone. For example, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV can drive approximately 40 to 45 km, while the Citroën C5 Aircross PHEV with a 13.2 kW battery can drive more than 50 km without an internal combustion engine connection. According to car experts, to drive every day in the city, it is enough to use only the electric part of the hybrid drive.
“It is certainly possible to cover the distance specified by the manufacturer when driving in normal mode with little energy savings, but without becoming a burden and an obstacle for other road users. 40-50 kilometers of electricity alone is enough for many people to not even start an internal combustion engine. If I don’t have any special business that day, I personally don’t need more ”, says I. Tennis.
By using an electrical regeneration system, the distance traveled by the electric motor can be increased. For example, the Citroën C5 Aircross PHEV, which has this system, recovers battery power when rolling downhill or when braking. In this way, the distance traveled by electricity alone can be increased by at least a few kilometers per day.
No niceties: sit back and drive
Some drivers, with a little distrust, look at both traditional hybrids and plug-in hybrids because they have doubts about their driving characteristics and are convinced that it is better not to approach these types of cars without special knowledge. But auto experts say no special extra skills are required to get behind the wheel of a hybrid.
“Just sit back and drive! If you only use electricity, you can enjoy smooth acceleration. When driving with a plug-in electric hybrid, there is definitely a difference. The trip will not be as dynamic as with a 100% electric car, and when the motor of gasoline starts like in an ordinary car ”, says I. Tenis.
After testing many plug-in hybrids, A. Zelmenis did not notice any difference in their use and driving.
“The gasoline mode is no different from a normal gasoline car, and the electric mode is no different from an electric car. The hybrid mode is very similar to a traditional self-charging hybrid. Everything is simple and the user does not need to learn anything. special ”, says the specialist.
One step towards an electric car
According to experts, plug-in hybrids essentially acted like electric cars, but they do not have the inherent shortcomings and therefore can become a stop for those who are considering buying an electric car, but are still overwhelmed by some fear and uncertainty.
“The rechargeable hybrid gives you the opportunity to test electric drive. Such a car can show that after 40 km there will be no problems, for example 150-200 km with a 100% electric car with a larger battery. Therefore, plug-in hybrids also act as an educational tool, at the same time teaching how to handle cables and charging devices, ”says A. Zelmenis.
He adds that plug-in hybrids give drivers full operating details for electric vehicles. Its advantage over electric cars is a shorter charging period because the batteries are smaller. For example, the aforementioned Citroën C5 Aircross PHEV will be fully charged from a household outlet in about six hours, but with a 22 kW charging station, in just two hours. So for example, when you start charging at night, you can continue the next day using only electricity.
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