Tuesday 23 July 2019

The danger of taking 'hybrid' things for granted; no hiding place; rugged Audi

Shortcuts with Eddie

DS 7 Crossback
DS 7 Crossback
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

I had a request last week from a reader asking for an explanation of the difference between hybrid petrol-electric and plug-in hybrid petrol-electric as well as their comparative advantages and disadvantages.

My initial instinct was to dismiss it as something the vast majority of people understood. But when I asked a few people generally, there were several misconceptions. Some thought 'plug-ins' per se were electric cars.

It is another case of presuming people - and oneself - know things. So, simply put, a petrol-electric hybrid car has an engine, battery and motor which combine in various ways to drive the car.

Sometimes just the electric element (battery/motor) is working (especially in town traffic which is where hybrid systems fare so well) and sometimes the lot contribute to varying degrees.

The battery is constantly recharged on the move via regenerative braking, supply from the engine etc too.

A 'plug-in hybrid' performs similarly except it has the added element of having a larger battery pack which can be charged from the outside (home socket etc) as well as like an ordinary hybrid when on the road. That means you can travel a certain number of kilometres, typically 30 or so, on pure electric power.

In other words the engine doesn't do anything much so you save a lot on fuel.

Technically it is possible for many people to commute on electric power and only occasionally use the engine.

The engine's input is, under those circumstances, reserved for longer journeys usually.

Plug-ins benefit from serious financial concessions (VRT refund and SEAI grant) worth €7,500 because, according to official determinants, they can be plugged in and charged independently of the engine to cover a certain (relatively small) range.

Ordinary hybrids get €1,500 in government concessions.

I think some people buy plug-ins because of the price and don't bother charging from home or office. Which negates the whole idea.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the next Budget.

Hope this rudimentary run-through is of some help.

* The new DS 7 Crossback (above) will be rolled out to the media here in early February.

* Car makers usually go to great lengths to keep the look and identity of an imminent new vehicle from prying public eyes.

But Volkswagen don't seem to be too pushed.

The next Golf (the eighth-generation due later this year) was spotted in thinly-disguised prototype form recently as it negotiated a McDonald's drive-thru in Germany with minimal protective camouflage.

* Audi's A6 Allroad rugged 4x4 estate - due to be revealed fairly soon - is expected to be on sale by the end of the year.

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