Science & Tech

Hybrid Electric Vehicles: A Path to Net-Zero Mobility

  • The global transition to net-zero emissions is vital to mitigating climate change, and electric vehicles (EVs) play a critical part in this effort.
  • Given the limitations of power supply, grid capacity, and fast-charging infrastructure in economically developing countries, hybrid EVs offer a substantial chance to jumpstart the shift.

Understanding Vehicle Net-Zero

  • The notion of “net-zero for vehicles” refers to reaching carbon neutrality or net-zero carbon emissions in the transportation sector.
  • This goal entails lowering cars’ overall carbon footprint in order to balance the emissions they emit with equivalent carbon removal or offsetting efforts.

Electric Vehicle Types

  • Any vehicle with an electric drivetrain that is powered by a portable electrical energy source is considered an electric vehicle (EV).
  • To generate power, a hybrid EV combines an internal combustion engine (ICE) with an electrical generator. It has a tiny battery (1-5kWh) that serves as an energy buffer, however it cannot be charged from the grid.
  • Full EV: Also known as a battery EV or plug-in EV, it does not have an ICE and so emits no exhaust emissions. It has a bigger battery (20-120 kWh) that is charged entirely by the grid.
  • Plug-in Hybrid EV: A hybrid EV with a larger battery (5-15 kWh) that can be charged from the grid and operates in full electric mode as long as the battery has energy.
  • Fuel-Cell EV: A fuel cell and a small battery buffer are used to provide electricity for the drivetrain.

Emissions and Fuel Economy of Hybrid and Fully Electric EVs

  • Hybrid electric vehicles: Hybrid EVs have 1.5-2x higher fuel economy than standard ICE vehicles in city driving and 1-1.5x higher on the highway thanks to the combination of an ICE, generator, and battery.
  • Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles: Combine the benefits of hybrid and full EVs, covering 80-90% of short commutes in fully electric mode while consuming 3-4x less gasoline than conventional vehicles.
  • Emissions During the Life Cycle: A complete index that takes into account emissions from well to wheel, vehicle and battery production, maintenance, and end-of-life recycling. Even with India’s fossil-fuel-dominated energy mix, full EVs result in 19-34% lower emissions for cars and 38-49% lower emissions for SUVs compared to conventional vehicles.

Transitioning to Electric Mobility’s Difficulties

  • Fast-Charging Infrastructure: To ease range anxiety and encourage full EV adoption, a successful transition requires fast-charging infrastructure along highways.
  • Grid connections and Reliability: Many places lack stable grid connections, providing issues for slow and fast charging capacities.
  • Vehicle expenses: In economically developing countries, mass-market EV pricing are substantially lower, limiting widespread adoption due to high battery costs.

EVs with Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid Powertrains: Decarbonizing the Interim

  • Hybrid EVs offer a way to reduce emissions until full EVs become realistic solutions in the long run.
  • Plug-in hybrids, with their all-electric range, have numerous advantages, including lower fuel costs, pollutants, and oil imports.
  • In hybrid EVs, regenerative braking and engine start-stop technologies improve fuel economy.
  • Regardless of vehicle range, the purchase price of hybrid cars is only marginally higher than that of conventional vehicles.
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