In recent months, automakers Maruti Suzuki, Toyota and Honda have launched hybrid electric vehicles in India, offering car buyers more choices in the nascent electric vehicle market. These new hybrid electric vehicles from different automakers, are relying on hybrid technology and its advantages over conventional internal combustion engine (ICE)-powered vehicles to change car buyers’ minds.


What is a hybrid electric vehicle?

  • A hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) uses an ICE (a petrol/diesel engine) and one or more electric motors to run.
  • It is powered by the electric motor alone, which uses energy stored in batteries, by the ICE, or both.
  • The powertrain of the HEV is more complex than a regular ICE-powered car as it has EV components and a conventional ICE.
  • That means a typical HEV will have a low-voltage auxiliary battery, a traction battery pack to store electricity for the electric motor, an electric generator, an AC/DC converter, a power electronics controller, a thermal system to maintain working temperature, an ICE, a fuel tank, a fuel filler, a transmission and an exhaust system.


How do HEV powertrains work?

  • HEV powertrains are designed to power cars in a series, parallel or series-parallel (power split) methods.
  • A series HEV uses only the electric motor to drive the wheels, while the ICE powers the generator, which in turn recharges the battery.
  • A parallel HEV, based on the driving condition, uses the best power source to power the vehicle. It will alternate between the electric motor and the ICE to keep the car moving.
  • A series-parallel HEV offers a combination of both models and allows to split power, wherein power is routed from the ICE alone or from the battery to the electric motor to drive the vehicle.
  • Moreover, in all three designs, the battery is charged through regenerative braking technology.


How does regenerative braking work?

  • Based on the type of RBS, the energy recovery happens in multiple ways.
  • A kinetic system can recover the energy lost during braking and then use this energy to recharge the high-voltage battery of the vehicle.
  • An electric system generates electricity through a motor during sudden braking.
  • Lastly, a hydraulic system uses pressurised tanks to store the vehicle’s kinetic energy and can offer a high energy recovery rate which is ideal for heavy vehicles.
  • The efficiency of HEVs and EVs will in large part be determined by their ability to recover as much energy as possible while braking, with a higher degree of energy recovery lowering fuel consumption.


Advantages of using hybrid technology

  • Fuel efficiency is a major factor for most people considering buying a car. Most vehicles with hybrid technology offer better fuel efficiency, more power, and minimum emissions.
  • The design of hybrid vehicles for reduced engine size and car weight as compared to ICE vehicles, translates into increased mileage to favour the demand for these vehicles.
  • Moreover, with the increase in total power and torque, HEVs can deliver instant torque and provide high torque even at low speeds.


Challenges of hybrid technology

In a price-sensitive market like India, one of the major challenges for HEVs is the high vehicle cost. Battery, a vital component of an HEV, increases the cost of the vehicle, making it pricier than vehicles powered only by an ICE. The RBS also adds to the higher cost of an HEV.


SourceThe Hindu


QUESTION – What is hybrid technology used in vehicles? How is it different from conventional internal combustion engine vehicles and electric vehicles? Discuss in brief.