Green Mobility – Evolution and Future of Hybrid Vehicles

The future is bound to develop and use hybrid vehicles extensively, be it hybrid cars, SUVs, MUVs, bikes, trains, airplanes, submarines, ships, etc. The Green Mobility revolution is triggered by environmental pollution, global warming and energy crises around the globe and has acquired the attention of various governments worldwide.

Hybrid vehicles – Vital cog & immediate solution!

You may wonder why we state that the future is hybrid, even before electric vehicles? It’s because we firmly believe that the near future involves extensive use of hybrid vehicles. The use of pure (100%) electric vehicles in the near future seems grim due to various factors such as:

  • Lack of infrastructure set-up,
  • Battery performance limitations,
  • Efficiency, speed and mileage being reliant on R&D initiatives

There are rapid changes in battery and charging technology, but this is causing uncertainty as to which technology will become the gold standard. Even the policy makers in many countries are reluctant to make laws and mandate the use of electric vehicles by a certain deadline. The governments are reluctant to set any targets as of now for pure electric vehicles. Moreover, change takes time. People usually take 10-15 years to change cars in most parts of the world. Some countries have setup a target deadline for ending the sale of new petrol or diesel vehicles. The deadlines also indicates that pure electric vehicles are a thing of the distant future. For instance, Norway has set a deadline of 2025; Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Slovenia and Netherlands has a deadline by 2030; Denmark by 2035; UK, Sri Lanka, Spain, Portugal, France and Canada has set a deadline by 2040. (Source)

Target dates for ending the sale of new or diesel vehicles.

Source: IAE/BBC Briefing – energy

Bigger changes will be needed for charging electric vehicles and tax system will also require changes. Even 100% electric vehicles are not a zero-carbon emission solution. Sourcing the minerals used for batteries, disposing batteries which have deteriorated, while building and delivering vehicles to customers worldwide all involve substantial CO2 emissions. It seems impossible to break this chain.

However, it is estimated that development in the field of hybrid vehicles by the next decade will have a huge impact in the development of electric vehicles. The electric vehicles era may start after 2030 in many countries worldwide. The changes in the policies for hybrid vehicles would pave a way for the smooth and easy policy making in the field of electric vehicles. It would help in fine infrastructure adaptations of battery technologies. Hence, hybrid vehicles (especially, hybrid electric vehicles) will make sure the future is greener for our next generations to come. Let’s discuss hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) further.

Hybrid Electric vehicle

            Image Source

What are hybrid vehicles?

Hybrid vehicles are automobiles that use two or more distinct types of power, such as a traditional fuel-burning internal combustion engine and an electric power train. Electrical power is stored in on-board batteries, which may be charged either by the internal combustion engine or (in the case of plug-in hybrids) and are plugged into a power source to keep electricity off the grid, similar to how full-electric vehicles function. Hybrid vehicles in general have better fuel economy than similar conventional vehicles and use smaller internal combustion engines.

Hybrid vehicles can use a combination of two or more types of power sources to run the vehicle. It can comprise a combination of petrol, diesel, CNG (compressed natural gas), LPG (liquefied petroleum gas), biofuels, hydrogen with air, fluid or electric motor to run the vehicle.

The hybrid vehicle uses different types of batteries for its smooth running:

Lead Acid Battery (link) Nickel-metal-hydride Battery (link) Lithium-ion battery (link)
Lead Acid batteryNickel-metal-hydride Battery_Hybrid batteryLithium-ion battery_Hybrid Vehicle

Types of power train configurations for hybrid vehicles:

  1. Series Hybrids – This is the simplest hybrid configuration where the electric motor is the only means of providing power to get your wheels turning. The electric motor gets electric power from either battery pack or from a generator run by a gas engine. A computer is able to determine how much power comes from the battery or the engine/generator set. The battery pack is recharged by both the engine/generator and regenerative braking.
  2. Parallel Hybrids – In a parallel hybrid, the engine and electric motor work in tandem to generate the power that drives the wheels. Parallel hybrids tendsss to use a smaller battery pack when compared to series drivetrains. They rely on regenerative braking to keep it charged. Whenever power demands are low, parallel hybrids also utilize the motor as a generator for supplemental recharging, much like an alternator in conventional cars.
  3. Series/Parallel Hybrids or Power Split Hybrids – The series/parallel hybrids merge the advantages and complications of the parallel and series drivetrains. When the two designs are combined, the engine can drive the wheels directly (as in the parallel drivetrain), as well as effectively disconnect, with only the electric motor providing power (as in the series drivetrain). It was the Toyota Prius that helped make series/parallel drivetrains a popular design.
Series (Source) Parallel (Source) Combination (Source)
Series configuration parallel configuration power split configuration

History of Hybrid Electric Vehicles

In the late 19th and very early 20th century; back when the idea that cars must run on gasoline wasn’t yet set in stone; inventors tinkered with different ways to power automobiles – including fossil fuels,  electricity, steam and combinations of these things. Here are some of the highlights of the history of hybrid vehicles:

The above timeline depicts the history of hybrid vehicles. In the upcoming article, we will talk about the recent developments in hybrid technology.

Future Of Hybrid Vehicles

Global Hybrid Vehicle Market is set to exhibit healthy growth rate during the forecast period – 2017 to 2023.

As per the analysis presented by Market Research Future (MRFR), the global hybrid vehicle market is expected to thrive at a healthy CAGR of 9% during the forecast period 2017 to 2023. The fuel price hike is primarily responsible for the conscious adoption of hybrid vehicles. It also guarantees optimum efficiency with regards to fuel consumption and engine performance due to the consolidation of different power sources. Thus, leading to the demand for hybrid vehicles in the near future.

As such Europe and North America seem to be important growth pockets that will grow significantly in the imminent future. The stringent regulations framed by the governments in these regions for the protection of the environment have led to an expansion of the market presence of hybrid cars in the region.

The delays in practical implementation of electric vehicles and related infrastructure followed by ever increasing fuel prices and carbon emissions is creating a void that needs to covered immediately – thereby fuelling the rise of “Hybrid” vehicles. The combination of two power sources instead of relying on one does provide some assurance to the market investors as well. Hence, we can conclude by saying that need for an instant solution is giving rise to the bright future of hybrid vehicles.

The patent portfolio seems to portray positive movements for hybrid vehicles patent as applications filed in last 10 years is almost twice of the patents filled in previous decade. Stay tuned for our next article which will cover the hybrid patent activity in detail.

– Rishabh Anurag (Engineering) and the Editorial Team

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