Is the future hybrid? Lexus seems to think so...

22nd April 2018

There are estimated to be around 1.2 billion vehicles registered on the road worldwide and this is expected to reach 2 billion by 2035.

With most of the cars today powered by fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel, which are a finite source, we need a more sustainable means of energy to support the ever increasing vehicles if we are to keep climate change stable.

Introduction to Hybrid technology

A hybrid car compromises of a conventional combustion engine, an electric motor and a battery. There are three different types of drivetrain structures that a hybrid car can adopt:

  1. Series hybrid

    In this variation of hybrid technology, the combustion engine is used to drive the generator which produces the electricity and it is only the electric motor that provides power to the wheels in order to propel the vehicle. The generator serves two purposes, it charges the battery and also powers the electric motor.

  2. Parallel hybrid

    This is the most common type of hybrid system and is different to series hybrid in the sense that both the combustion engine and electric motor can be used to power the wheels. Both the internal combustion engine and electric motor are connected in parallel to a mechanical transmission.

  3. Combined hybrid

    A combined hybrid system encompasses both the series and parallel hybrids and is much more complex due to having to control the dual system. It works by having double connection between the drive axle and the engine: mechanical and electrical. The wheels can be powered by either mechanical, electrical or both.

    The main difference between parallel hybrid and combined hybrid is that in the latter the combustion engine can effectively be disconnected with the electric motor solely powering the wheels.

So what's the big deal?

Hybrid vehicles consume less fuel and produce fewer harmful emissions compared to the more conventional petrol and diesel powered vehicles.

The pie chart below shows the number of registered vehicles in the UK, categorised by fuel type.

Number of registered vehicles in 2015 in the UK

As the chart depicts, 99% of the cars registered in 2015 were petrol or diesel engines, 0.79% were hybrids and 0.08% were electric.

The car industry is clearly still dominated by and is reliant on petrol and diesel. If we are to sustain another 1 billion vehicles by 2035, we need to make the shift to hybrid or electric cars.

Lexus has been championing hybrid engines since 2004 with its pioneering work in hybrid powered vehicles. In 2017, 98% of all car sales in the Western Europe by Lexus were hybrids.

The Lexus NX 300h model was the most popular hybrid model that sold last year. With its 2.5 litre engine, it produces 197 horsepower and yet thanks to it being a hybrid, the combined CO2 emissions are just 121 g/km.

With its impressive range of cars powered by hybrid engines, Lexus is breaking the stereotype that hybrid cars cannot be cool; you no longer need to drive a Prius to be good to the environment. If a premium brand like Lexus can rock the Hybrid scene, hopefully this may inspire other car manufacturers will follow suit.

If it makes money, it makes sense

There is also a sound financial incentive for switching to a hybrid. Due to the lower emissions and higher miles per gallon, hybrid cars are cheaper to run and in some cases are exempt from congestion charges.

It also makes a great business case for companies that use company cars, by choosing a hybrid car, the business will not only be saving the environment, but will also be saving their money through government schemes, tax benefits and lower fuel expenditure that come as a result of owning a hybrid car.

To read up on all the tax benefits the government provides on ulta low emission vehicles, click here.

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