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Ecosystem of hybrid EVs

Published: 3rd Aug, 2023

Context

As India is looking forward to increase its renewable energy dependence and following sustainable path of clean energy, the fraction of renewable sources in the power generation mix, and availability of fast-charging infrastructure are still less than ideal.

  • The hybrid EVs offers a way to begin the transition instead of waiting.

What are Hybrid Electric Vehicles (EVs)?

  • Any vehicle propelled by an electric drivetrain, taking electric power from a portable, electrical energy source, is called an Electric vehicle (EV).
  • In a hybrid EV, an internal combustion engine (ICE) is used to produce electricity with an electrical generator.

In an internal combustion engine (ICE), the ignition and combustion of the fuel occurs within the engine itself. The engine then partially converts the energy from the combustion to work.

  • A small battery, typically 1-5kWh, is used in a hybrid EV as an energy buffer to store the electricity.
  • The battery can’t be charged from the grid.

What are the net emissions of hybrid EVs?

  • Apart from fuel economy, an important metric is the net emissions of a vehicle.
  • Well-to-wheel emissions include both tailpipe emissions and emissions due to fuel production – electricity or fossil fuels.
  • The life-cycle emissions are a more comprehensive index that includes well-to-wheel emissions and emissions due to vehicle and battery production, maintenance, and end-of-life recycling.
  • The grids of different countries are decarbonised to different extents at present.
  • In the case of full EVs: The lower the emissions from power production, the lower the vehicle’s well-to-wheel and life-cycle emissions.

How can hybrid or plug-in hybrid EVs help us decarbonise?

  • The current focus in the industry is on full EVs.
  • Hybrid EVs – either full or plug-in hybrids – present a big opportunity to lower emissions in the interim, i.e. from today, with ICE vehicles, until we have full EVs powered 100% by renewable energy.
  • Higher fuel economy of hybrids in electric mode drastically reduces fuel costs, emissions, and oil imports.
  • Regenerative braking in hybrid EVs – i.e. recovering the kinetic energy of the vehicle while slowing down instead of dissipating it as heat in the braking system – can improve fuel economy especially in urban areas with frequent stop-go conditions and in hilly conditions. An engine start-stop mechanism can also save fuel at traffic junctions and in heavy traffic.
  • Finally, the purchase price of hybrid cars is only 5-15% higher than conventional vehicles and is independent of the vehicle range.

What are the challenges to transitioning to electric mobility?

  • Lack of fast-charging infrastructure along highways: This is vital because people generally want to own one affordable car serving both short and long-distance travel needs over 5-15 years. The lack of a fast-charging infrastructure will discourage people from buying full EVs.
  • Higher power requirement for heavy vehicles: Fast-charging means power levels of 50-350 kW for cars and up to 1,000 kW for heavy-duty vehicles.
  • Requirements of additional costs: The high cost and wide variation are due to the high-capacity power connections required, the cost of making and installing a new transformer and cables; service-level agreements; DC charger plug options and quantities; customisation costs; labour costs; and permits.
  • Higher costs of Acquisition: Mass-market price points of cars in the economically developing countries are much lower, to about 12,000 dollars – whereas EVs with a range of 300-400 km will reach parity with conventional vehicles in the richest countries at a price of 25,000-35,000 dollars in the short term.

Government Interventions:

  • The Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme II, which provides incentives for EV manufacturers and buyers. These incentives include subsidies, tax rebates, preferential financing, and exemptions from road tax and registration fees.
  • The National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP), which sets out the target to achieve 6-7 million sales of hybrid and electric vehicles year on year from 2020 onwards by providing fiscal incentives.
  • The National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage, which seeks to create a comprehensive ecosystem for the adoption of EVs and support the establishment of Giga-scale battery manufacturing plants in India.
  • The Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme, which provides incentives for the manufacturing of electric vehicles and components.
  • The Vehicle Scrappage Policy, which provides incentives for the scrapping of old vehicles and the purchase of new electric vehicles.
  • The?Go Electric?campaign aims to create awareness on the benefits of EVs and EV charging infrastructure.

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