Electric and hybrid cars, how and why to choose them

Electric and hybrid cars, how and why to choose them

Electric and hybrid cars

Electric cars, plug-in hybrids, full hybrids, mild hybrids: in recent years the automotive market has been filled with more or less imaginative nomenclatures to describe the types of existing engines, but not always the differences between the various variations are presented in a clear and simple way. In this article we will analyze the various types of electrified motors, to better understand their differences, their strengths and weaknesses.

Electric cars: why choose them and why not

Let's start from the simplest ones, electric cars or BEVs - Battery Electric Vehicle: until a few years ago the concept of a 100% electric car seemed very distant to us, or reserved for a small group of buyers - today this reality has changed and the car electricity is entering the market more concretely, also with proposals relating to the reach of the masses. In terms of mechanical scheme, the electric car is the simplest ever to design: we find a large battery pack that completely replaces the fuel tank - usually runs along the entire floor of the car, so as to improve its center of gravity as well - connected directly to the engine or to the electric motors present.

The energy stored in the battery is exploited by the engine, and the autonomy offered by the car depends mainly on the size of the battery - expressed in kWh - and on the efficiency with which this is managed: on more than one occasion we have seen companies release software updates that have improved the autonomy of the car thanks to an optimization of electricity management.| ); }
Depending on the model chosen - and therefore the selling price - autonomy can vary between 200 and 600 km; in the upper part of this range there are also endothermic cars, with the difference that a "full" of electricity will take at least 15 minutes with a high power column, while a full tank of petrol or diesel can be done in a few minutes at any petrol pump.

The range of electric cars can also be influenced by the ambient temperature: when temperatures drop, the car will have to exploit the energy stored in the battery to keep the latter at the optimum operating temperature, thus discharging it earlier of time by reducing the kilometers that can be traveled.

Among the main disadvantages there is undoubtedly the initial purchase price, which today is still significantly higher than that of a car of similar size with an internal combustion engine: the high cost of the raw materials needed to produce the batteries, combined with the extensive research and development work done by the companies that are bringing electric cars to the market, make these cars still inaccessible to most.

Now let's move on to the magnificent world of cars hybrid, going to better understand how the three most common types on the markets differ: plug-in hybrid, full hybrid and mild hybrid.

Mild hybrid: a simple low-cost solution

The last of the three types is the one that is spreading most rapidly even among economic cars, precisely because it is a solution that is simple to implement, inexpensive and capable of perceptibly improving consumption. "Mild" in English has many translations, and the most suitable one is probably "light": the mild hybrid is a type of light and simple hybrid engine, which combines the capabilities of an internal combustion engine with the thrust of an electric one.

On mild hybrid cars the electric motor is very small, and the same goes for the 12 or 48 Volt battery: the car is not able to move only with electric energy as the electric motor is linked to the thermal one, but it will use the thrust of the electrical system to have better acceleration - especially in low gears, where fuel consumption is higher. The mild hybrid car does not need to be recharged at a column, as the small battery installed will be constantly recharged during the braking of the car, and will therefore only need a full tank of fuel.

Federicovecchio.com Mild hybrid solutions are also found on very economical models such as the Fiat Panda or Ford Fiesta: these engines are able to significantly improve fuel consumption and acceleration performance, but the real differences can be seen on the full hybrid or plug-in hybrid models.

Full hybrid: the Prius leads the way

The full hybrid models - or FHEV, Full Hybrid Electric Vehicle - are among the first to have spread to the market: many will remember the years when big cities were literally invaded by Toyota Prius used by taxi drivers, one of the first cars to make itself known thanks to full hybrid technology.

The full hybrid car is equipped with of a bat pack terie larger than that of a mild hybrid, and has the electric motor directly connected to the wheels, so as to allow the journey of a few kilometers using only electricity. Also in this case it will not be necessary to connect the car to a charging station: the car itself will monitor the state of charge of the batteries, which are recharged even during braking, and if needed, the engine can be started. endothermic to speed up battery recharging.

Thanks to these full hybrid power systems, fuel consumption can be improved by up to 30% in a city environment, while on the motorway there is no particular improvement because at faster speeds high you travel almost entirely with the internal combustion engine. On the other hand, however, the weight of the car can increase by up to 100 kg, due to the presence of batteries - which could also reduce the space available in the boot - and the electric motor.

Plug-in hybrid: only for those who recharge

Finally, we arrive at the highest expression of the hybrid engine, the plug-in hybrid: it is that type of hybrid car that can be recharged at a column and is able to move for several kilometers - a quantity between approximately 40 and 100 km - using only the electric motor.

Plug-in hybrid cars (or PHEV, which stands for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) represent the most high of the current hybrid engine, thanks to the elasticity of the dual power supply they offer: the batteries installed are sufficient to cover the daily route of the average Italian - which is about 30 km - and allow a very economical and ecological daily use, given that potentially you can use it to run the car without ever turning on the internal combustion engine. On the other hand, when you need to go a long way, the undisputed capabilities of the petrol engine take over and will take you to your destination without worry about autonomy.

Using a plug-in hybrid car in the city it ensures very low operating costs, similar to those of an electric car, with various tax advantages both in the purchase phase and during use. On the other hand, a plug-in hybrid car requires you to always have a home charging point available to use it in the best possible way, and the presence of batteries often results in less space inside the boot. The weight increase compared to a simple endothermic model becomes even more evident when traveling with a flat battery, increasing consumption without gaining anything in terms of performance.

On balance, a fundamental aspect becomes immediately clear : electric or electrified cars in some form make a great contribution to consumption when used in cities, where traffic makes endothermic cars particularly inefficient. The further you get away from busy roads, the less useful and efficient it will be to have an electric or hybrid motor available; to date, the most balanced solution is undoubtedly a plug-in hybrid engine, able to offer the best of both worlds while maintaining great flexibility in the use that can be made of it.

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