Written by Michael Ronaldo
In this era, cars are no longer metal, fire, smoke, and petrol. Throughout the ages, car has developed into a far more advanced and sophisticated work of machine engineering. Petrol Engine cars are the favoured type of car that has been around since the invention of the first car ever. However, with the recent issues regarding climate change, the decline in oil resources and the changing preferences in automotive market, car manufacturers are trying to create a new kind of car that could suit the needs of the masses. Since the early 21st Century, two new type of cars have been introduced to the global market, Hybrid Cars and Electric Cars. The global automotive market will expect a tight competition between these two new types of car. Through their economical, practicality and versatility, and future availability we could determine which one is the future generation of car.
The economical aspect of both hybrid and electrical cars play as an important factor in deciding which one of these cars holds advantages in the global automotive market. Price and running cost are the first aspect an individual or group would consider before buying a car. Both Hybrid and Electric Cars are on similar lever in terms of price. The price of a Hybrid car or an Electric car is similar, although both cars are more expensive than a petrol engine car. For example, according to Carbuyer (2014) a top of the range model Hybrid Toyota Prius cost around £ 30.000, a top of the range model Electric Nissan Leaf cost around £ 27.000, and a top of the range model Petrol Engine Ford Focus only cost around £ 13.000. The price of the engine is mainly the reason of this significant price difference. However, as manufacturers develop the hybrid and electric engine, the price will soon lower. Then there’s the running cost. Due to its simpler construction, Electric car has a better maintenance cost compared to their Hybrid counterparts. An electric car uses only an electric motor which powers the wheel. On the other hand, a hybrid car uses a more complicated combination of a compact petrol engine and an electric motor. Another drawbacks of Hybrid Cars are their petrol usage. Even though the amount of petrol used is not that much, the running cost would still be slightly higher than Electric Cars. For instance, we could compare the fuel economy of a Hybrid Toyota Prius and an Electric Nissan Leaf. With estimated 50 mpg, Toyota Prius is at a slight disadvantage compared to the 100 mpg of Nissan Leaf. Having twice the mpg of a Prius, Nissan Leaf triumph over the Prius due to its all electric engine. Christopher DeMorro (2014) stated that using a hybrid car could save you around $8.000 of lifetime fuel consumption and an electric car could save you even more money, $13.000.
Then comes the matter of the practicality and versatility of the two cars, which, when it comes to practicality, electric cars win with a sheer difference. Since they only have a single electric motor, that also means leaving space that would usually be used for engine for baggage space instead. Hybrid cars are not so convenient in this matter, except for some of the bigger hybrid car models. The combined engine system that Hybrid uses means it takes more space in the car for the petrol engine and electric motor compartment. Nevertheless, practicality could not be perceived alone without the car versatility. In terms of versatility, Hybrid cars win by a landslide. Most of the Hybrid cars that is available in the market have the capability of using two energy sources for their fuel system, which means the dependency of its fuel source is more adjustable rather than using solely electricity alone. The range a battery of an electric car could go is brief when compared to those of hybrid’s. An article in CarSort stated that An Electric Nissan Leaf is capable of running 73 miles in the highway before it runs out of battery juice, which is very inferior if compared to a Hybrid Toyota Prius which is capable of 571 miles in the highway. Then there is also the lack of charging stations for electric cars, which means electric cars will hardly be usable in countryside and rural areas. Both hybrid and electric cars face the same difficulties in environmental situations such as climate and temperature. In an area with severely cold temperature, the car battery of both types of car will face a problem. Brian Johanssen (2010) explained that all batteries deliver their power via a chemical reaction inside the battery that releases electrons. When the temperature drops the chemical reactions happen more slowly and the battery cannot produce the same current that it can at room temperature. A change of ten degrees can sap 50% of a battery’s output. In some situations the chemical reactions will happen so slowly and give so little power that the battery will appear to be dead when in fact if it is warmed up it will go right back to normal output.
Future availability is also one of the vital aspects to decide which will be the predecessor of the current generation of cars. As these types of car were projected to be the means of transportation in the coming days, of course it must be available in the future. It is within common sense that hybrid cars are in a disadvantage here, since as we know the resource for petroleum is limited and currently receding. Electric cars do still slightly rely on petroleum, except it is not directly reliant to petroleum like Hybrid cars. Electric cars have many alternative power sources such as solar energy, wind turbine, etc. According to Institution of Mechanical Engineering (2015) by 2040, production levels may be down to 15 million barrels per day – around 20% of what we currently consume. It is likely by then that the world’s population will be twice as large, and more of it industrialised (and therefore oil dependent). Therefore, a future prospect for Electric car may seem to be more promising than Hybrid’s.
By putting these two together, we could manage to see which of these two brilliantly designed new types of car hold the most potential and advantages as the future predecessor for cars. Hybrid does hold more advantages through it having both the availability and versatility of an average petrol conventional car and the environmentally friendly capability of an electric car. Brian Johanssen (2010) pointed out in his article about Hybrid and Electric car that pitting hybrid cars versus electric cars at this time is slightly unfair to the electric car due to the lack of charging infrastructure and the extremely limited availability of electric cars. However, according to the data that existed, Hybrid does have a slight problem if we observe from the statistic of petroleum usage. It is more suitable to say that Hybrid will hold more prospects for the near future and Electric Cars will be the predecessor for the long run.