YESTERDAY, SIMANAITISSAYS 2023 began discussing the pros and cons of BEVs versus ICEs, battery electric vehicles versus those with internal combustion engines. Today in Part 2 we discuss a third option in the transition away from fossil fuels: hybrids.
Definitions. A hybrid automobile, of course, has both traditional and electrical propulsion, the two power sources designed for optimized economy and performance, as well as cost of production and operation.
A full hybrid, typified by the Toyota Prius, has completely electric propulsion as much as 60 percent of the time. By contrast, a mild hybrid, as offered by Audi, Ford, Kia, and Volvo, uses electricity to augment ice performance, not replace it. A mild hybrid trades away full hybrid economy with its smaller battery’s lower cost.
Hybrids generate their own electricity, partly through ice operation, partly through regenerative braking. A separate variety, plug-in hybrids, can also replenish their batteries with BEV-like plug-ins.
Forget Range Anxiety. EPA’s Combined MPG ratings give BEVs the big numbers in terms of gasoline-equivalent mpg. The Lucid large BEV tops the list with 140 mpg. Full hybrids occupy the middle range of 50 mpg and up, with the added benefit of gasoline replenishment seemingly everywhere/anytime.
Covering Bets. At the Automotive News Congress, November 18, 2022, Hyundai N.A. CEO Jose Muñoz said, “We see this period as a transition period.”
“Based on the information we get from our customers,” Muñoz said, “not all are ready to transition to an EV in just one shot. We decided to invest in hybrid, hybrid plug-in and electric at the same time. This has given us a great conquest tool to bring customers from other brands. They think about the future, but they want to be sure.”
And Then There Are Fuel Cells. BMW’s Thomas Hofmann calls “Hydrogen Power the Yin to Battery Power’s Yang,”Automotive News, December 2, 2022. That is, “fuel cell vehicles combine the emissions-free benefits of EVs with the quick refueling capability—three to five minutes—of gasoline-powered vehicles.”
Automotive News reports, “A test fleet of BMW iX5 Hydrogen vehicles, based on the X5 crossover, will hit the road early next year as the automaker aims to commercialize the technology by decade’s end.”
“BMW,” Automotive News says, “is one of a few automakers that see fuel cell technology gaining traction in a world souring on emissions-spewing combustion engine vehicles.”
Honda Plans. In the same issue, Automotive News reports “Honda Will Build a Fuel Cell CR-V in Ohio.” This sixth-generation compact crossover will start production in 2024. “In addition to … quick refueling and generous range,” Automotive News adds “the vehicle will feature a plug that will enable drivers to charge the onboard battery for electricity-powered trips around town.”
Sorta a plug-in hybrid, only with a fuel cell replacing the ice.
Brooke describes Toyota’s success story: “… launch a groundbreaking product that stuns your competitors, becomes synonymous with fuel economy and practicality—and delights more than 5 million customers across the planet. That ‘green car’ icon—Prius—is now entering its fifth generation with serious style and even greater efficiency.”
Yet Toyota is being criticized for not committing to 100-percent BEVs: “My morning news feed,” Brooke says, “usually includes some wannabe ‘experts’ dissing Akio Toyoda for not flipping a switch to shut down his company’s ICE and hybrid plants tomorrow.”
I note as well that Toyota has been producing the Mirai for nearly seven years now. ds