There’s no denying that hybrid cars save money at the pump. It’s why they’ve come to market about a quarter of a century ago, and it’s what has brought them unbroken popularity among taxi companies, rideshare and delivery drivers, commuters, and generally people who drive a lot, especially in city traffic.
The same holds true with hybrids as with any other car — consumption depends on a number of factors such as your lifestyle and driving style, the quality of the fuel, but most importantly, the car model.
Did you know? Hybrids consume about half as much fuel in combined cycle as a petrol-only car of comparable size and power.
To see how much you can save driving a hybrid it’s best to see an example.
The Toyota Camry Hybrid has a combined consumption of about 3.8 – 4 litres per 100 km, while a comparable subcompact SUV with a sole petrol engine demands close to 8 litres for the same distance. Say, you’d drive about 1,000 km in a week on average. With the petrol car, that would amount to 4,160 litres of fuel in a year, which would cost $7,072, based on a $1.7 fuel price.
To drive the same 52,000 kilometres with the hybrid car would take just 2,080 litres of petrol, saving you roughly $3,536 in fuel costs over the course of one year compared to a petrol-only car.
Plus, if you’re driving a hybrid car, you don’t have to worry about finding a charging station. However, don’t cross a fully-electric car off your wishlist just because the charging process scares you. Nowadays, there are plenty of EV charging apps in Australia to help you locate charging stations and easily access them.
It’s easy to see why a hybrid drivetrain, where the petrol engine is assisted by an electric motor, is more economical than just a traditional petrol engine with no help whatsoever.
Traditional petrol engines – although much more efficient and considerably greener than they were just a few decades ago – still only know one thing: to transform part of the energy stored in gasoline into motion. Yes, just part of it, because there are a lot of byproducts like noise, heat, and vibrations. Much of the energy literally goes up in smoke when you’re pushing the accelerator.
The best a petrol engine can do is stop burning fuel when you’re going downhill, coasting, or standing at the red light, if your car has a stop-start system. A hybrid car is much smarter than that.
While the heart of a hybrid car is a pretty much identical engine, the simple addition of an electric motor, some battery cells and clever computer control takes it to the next level. Now it can transform braking power as well as part of the same rolling motion that drives you forward into electricity.
It stores this electricity in a large battery pack, and use the more efficient electric motor for part of the journey. Which part? That’s where it gets really smart:
Hybrid drivertains switch back and forth between the internal combustion engine and the electric motor, taking advantage of the radical differences between the two technologies. This way they can always use the most efficient solution for the task at hand.
Every time you brake as you approach a red light, the hybrid car shuts off the petrol engine and puts some electric charge into the battery. As the light turns green and you set off – instead of revving high in a low gear just to set you in motion again – the car switches to the electric motor, as it produces maximum torque instantly, using the energy you just stored in the battery. The petrol engine only takes over once you have good momentum, and it can keep you moving (and charging the battery further) with a lighter consumption.
Hybrid cars are made for the constant start-stop traffic of the city centre, which is detrimental to the fuel consumption of a traditional car.
That makes them some of the best cars for Uber driving. Hybrid cars are all about putting existing ideas into a package that works for you rather than against your goals. Much like our flexible car subscriptions, where you can drive a car without it being your liability, and own one without making a lengthy commitment.
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