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Classic Hybrid Vs. Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle

2 March 2022

The past decade and a half have seen the idea of electric-powered vehicles go from being an interesting concept to a niche market, and now we are at the cusp of mass adoption. There are a few global factors that have seen this shift in the market. Firstly, the world's greater awareness of the impact emissions have on our planet has caused many governments, including New Zealand's, to push for lower-emission vehicles. Secondly, we've seen the slow but steady creep of oil prices, making it progressively more expensive to run a traditional combustion engine. And finally, and perhaps most importantly, electric technology in the vehicle sector is no longer considered a "compromise" against its combustion counterparts... In many cases, it exceeds it in both performance and cost. Electric vehicle technology is viable now more than ever, and the future for electric vehicles continues to become more and more exciting.

With the breakneck speed this technology has been developing, you'd be forgiven for not quite being able to grasp the differences between all of its different iterations. When it comes to electric vehicles, there are generally three categories. The first is electric vehicles or EVs, which ditch their combustion engines in favour of being completely reliant on battery power. They can be charged at home or from Fast Charge Stations while on the go. EV technology has improved drastically over the years but can take some planning to ensure that you have sufficient charge to carry out your entire journey. This sometimes leads to people having "range anxiety" - the fear that you may run out of battery power with no place to charge your vehicle. This is mainly due to EV's inability to use petrol to support their electric motors.

For most people, wrapping their heads around the concept of an EV isn't difficult. The confusion generally comes in when it comes to understanding the difference between the other two iterations of electric vehicles - classic hybrid vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). Both take advantage of electric vehicle technology while also having a traditional combustion engine. While they may sound similar on paper, there are distinct differences between these two types of vehicles.


Classic Hybrid Vehicle

Classic hybrid vehicles are the forefathers of the mainstream adoption of electric vehicle technology. Rather than attempting to create a car that runs purely off a battery, they opted to focus on developing a fuel-efficient vehicle that used electric motors to support and assist their combustion engine. This gave the car the benefits of an electric motor - like fuel economy and low emissions - while still allowing it to use traditional petrol or diesel.

The main benefit of a classic hybrid is that they're incredibly easy to drive and don't require any special knowledge or planning when it comes to charging them. Their main power source is still petrol or diesel, while the battery power merely assists in ensuring that this engine runs efficiently. Because of this, the battery in a classic hybrid is smaller than that of a PHEV. Rather than charging externally, the battery relies solely on reclaiming power from running the combustion engine and braking.

Classic hybrids do have a few drawbacks when compared to PHEVs - because they are heavily reliant on their combustion engine, with the battery merely being used to support it, their electrical capabilities are limited. While they may feature an all-electric mode, this can usually only be used for low speeds and power output, making it only useful in a handful of situations such as making your way through parking lots or being stuck in extremely heavy traffic. While the hybrid engine is highly efficient in regards to fuel economy, classic hybrid cars lack the electrical, fuel-free freedom that many consumers are after.


Plug-in Hybrid Electrical Vehicle - PHEV

PHEVs are the latest innovation in hybrid vehicle technology. Taking the positive features of both fully electric vehicles and classic hybrid vehicles while doing away with their negatives, PHEVs provide the best of both worlds. While it has both a combustion engine and battery-powered electric motors like a classic hybrid, the relationship between these two components is inverted. PHEVs use the electric motors and battery as their main driver, with the combustion engine playing a supportive role - the opposite way round to that of a classic hybrid. This provides a few significant benefits. Firstly, it drastically reduces emissions and improves fuel economy when compared to traditional petrol or diesel cars. Secondly, the larger battery enables the car to be driven for long periods of time without needing to use any fuel whatsoever. This full EV mode means that most Kiwis' daily commute can be completed without the need to ever engage the combustion engine. But what about the aforementioned "range anxiety"? This concern has been addressed too - by using the combustion engine in parallel to the electric motors, PHEVs significantly increase their range. For instance, the Next Gen Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is capable of up to 800km combined range with a fuel economy of 1.6L/100km.

Are there any negatives to owning a PHEV? The main thing to be made aware of is in the name "plug-in hybrid". PHEVs rely on an external power source to charge their larger battery, therefore you need to ensure that you have access to a charger - they can easily be plugged in to charge at home from a standard NZ power outlet overnight, or a rapid charge at a Fast Charge Station. A standard outlet will take approx. 8 hours (depending on battery size) while Fast Charge Stations can provide an 80% charge in 20-25mins. While the battery does reclaim power from braking and running the combustion engine, you will still need to charge your PHEV from an external source. This easily fits into most people's lifestyles but it should still be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not a PHEV is a right choice for you.


Simon Lucas Mitsubishi PHEV Offerings

Mitsubishi has been at the forefront of PHEV technology since its inception and the latest generation of their innovation continues to exceed the expectations of the market. From the bold and powerful Next Generation Outlander PHEV to the punchy and versatile 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV, Mitsubishi continues to set the bar for its competitors when it comes to innovation in PHEV technology.

There's no doubt in our minds that electric vehicle technology is the future for the entire automotive industry.

To find out more about Mitsubishi's range of PHEVs, get in contact with Simon Lucas Mitsubishi today. Our expert team is here to answer all your questions in regards to this incredible technology and whether it is the right choice for your lifestyle. So call into our North Shore showroom today, book a test drive, and experience this technology for yourself!

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