In a day and age when conventional sources of energy are becoming a scarce resource, automobile manufacturers are expanding their horizons to look out for more cleaner and sustainable form of energy. Out of the three most widely studied alternative sources of energy - Solar, Electric and Fuel Cell, the electric energy has proved to be the most efficient and efficient source to power the automobiles.
While the electric vehicles are making a big dent in the sales of the gasoline/diesel powered cars, we are here to talk about one particular type of electric vehicle or a semi-electric vehicle to be particular. The plug-in hybrid vehicles are making it big in the industry, not only in India, but globally. Here's everything you want to know about the plug-in hybrids!
What is a Plug-In Hybrid?
Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles or PHEVs as they are commonly called combine a conventional engine (Gasoline/Diesel) with an Electric Motor. But that's like any conventional hybrid you may ask! While they are almost similar in principle, what differentiates them is how the batteries powering the electric motor are charged.
In a PHEV, the batteries can be charged via a charging cable, that be plugged into an electric socket, much like your mobile. This helps the PHEV to cover farther distance and you can practically run on an all-electric mode, not utilizing the fuel at all. Only in the case of a complete battery drain, the conventional engine will power the car. On the contrary, a conventional hybrid just increases the fuel efficiency, by mixing fuel and electricity according to the speed and RPM.
As for the Plug-In ports, most of the manufacturers help install the sockets around your workplace or your home, according to your need. In India, though, this culture is still not prominent, and needs a big push from either the manufacturers combined or the government in-charge.
Differences between PHEVs and other EVs
1. Conventional hybrids - The conventional hybrids, just like the PHEVs, have an electric motor and a battery. But unlike the plug-ins, they can't be charged with a socket. Instead, the gasoline or diesel engine charges the battery to improve the efficiency of the car.
2. Battery electric vehicles - The most common of all, the electric vehicles derive their power only from the battery, which delivers the power to the motor rotating the wheels. These are typically plug-in and can be charged using an external socket and don’t produce any tailpipe emissions.
3. Fuel cell vehicles - The most recent in the list to join the zero-emission vehicles is the Fuel cell powered vehicles. A FCV powers the motor by converting hydrogen gas into electricity. Fuel-cell vehicles are considered to be the cleanest form of transportation as they don't need an electric source to recharge the car.
So why is the plug-in hybrids more thoughtful invention than a conventional hybrid and what makes them a better vehicle overall? Here are a few benefits-
· PHEV produce significantly less emission than fuel powered vehicles.
· If driven only in pure electric mode, CO2 emission is zero.
· Since fuel consumption is almost negligible, PHEVs are light on your pockets.
· PHEVs combine the fuel-savings benefits of hybrids with the all-electric capabilities of battery powered cars.
· You can charge your car overnight using your home power supply.
· Batteries are not dependent on power from engine if it is charged.
· Regenerative braking converts heat energy to the electric energy that is stored back in the battery.
· Performance is at par with conventional fuel powered cars.
Like with every other car, all is not hunky dory with the PHEVs and there are a couple of negatives-
· Special sockets are needed to be installed to charge the car.
· PHEVs are expensive than gasoline/diesel powered cars.
· The battery range is generally less as compared to an all-electric car.
· In a country like India, charging stations are not available and hence, one need to charge it the station installed at home or office.
Options in India
India is still in its nascent stage when it comes to electric cars, so PHEVs are still out of the equation. However, there are a couple of PHEVs recently added to the Indian portfolio, including the Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV. Here's the list-
1. BMW i8 - The hybrid sportscar from the German manufacturer is one of its only kind car in India and packs both high-performance DNA along with clean energy capability. Priced upwards of Rs 2 crores, the sportscar is the most expensive PHEV in the country today.
2. Volvo XC90 T8 - The most recent one to join the pack, the Volvo XC90 PHEV has a 40 km all-electric range and is priced at Rs 1.25 crores. The XC90 is also the safest and the most luxurious SUV in the country today.
3. Mahindra e-Verito - Ever since Mahindra has acquired Reva technology, their appetite to produce an in house PHEV has grown. The first vehicle to receive this tech is the Verito compact sedan, called the e-Verito. It has an emergency charging range of 8 km and is Priced at closed to Rs 10 lakhs.