Y Generation Prefers Hybrids

Hybrid Cars
Hybrid Cars

The current generation has been called the Y Generation. They are technologically adept and upwardly mobile. Research recently found that they prefer fuel conservation and this has been translated to their car platform preferences. This generation clearly prefers hybrid vehicles with only two percent show interest in electric vehicles.

A hybrid vehicle utilizes two power sources where energy is utilized to move the vehicle. There are several kinds of configurations to maximize these and these are as follows:

  • Parallel Hybrid. This hybrid configuration has a single electric motor and an internal combustion engine allowing these two motors to either work individually or in tandem to move the vehicle. The first mass produced parallel hybrid configuration was the Honda Insight.
  • Mild Parallel Hybrid. This configuration utilizes a small electric motor providing stop and start functionality as well as extra power assist during acceleration and regenerative braking during deceleration.
  • Series Parallel Hybrid. This is also called a power split drive train with two sources, such as the electric motor and the internal combustion engine. The power from these power sources can be shared where the electric motor acts as the generator to recharge the batteries. The primary source is the internal combustion engine with the electric motor providing the extra boost.
  • Serial Hybrid. This has also been tagged as Extended Range Electric Vehicle or Range Extended Electric Vehicle. This vehicle configuration is driven by the electric motor and runs independently of the internal combustion engine. The internal combustion engine runs the generator to recharge the battery array.

The generation’s preference stems from the following reasons:

  1. Fuel Efficiency. This is the top characteristic why the Y generation chooses hybrid vehicles. According to the survey, nearly half would be willing to spend to further improve the fuel efficiency of their current hybrid vehicle. The studies were conducted by Deloitte, about fifty seven percent chooses to have a hybrid that utilizes both electricity and fuel. Other preferences include choosing vehicles that simplifies their modular lifestyle, lowers fuel expenses and is more cost effective in the long run.
  2. Technology. Another come on for the Y generation is the technology installed within hybrid vehicles. The survey found that nearly two thirds would prefer having touch screen controls and this should be attached to the dashboard of the hybrid vehicle. Other technologies in the car should include their digital dashboard as well as their multi-media systems. Nearly sixty percent of those surveyed require comfort as well as entertainment in the vehicle.

The survey conducted by Deloitte comprised of participants from the United States, United Kingdom, China, Germany and France. The results found that the Y-generation prefers the high technology hybrids over the electric vehicles.

The Hybrid Technology Future

Hybrid Cars
Hybrid Cars

When the Toyota Prius hit the market, many were enamored with the technology and the resulting fuel efficiency. Unfortunately, not many understand how this system works and the following are the basics on hybrid vehicle technology.

While first adopters and owners have an understanding of how a second powertrain helps in increasing mileage and fuel efficiency, many have not been able to accommodate new innovations such as the plug in hybrid technology and other improvements. The increased number of hybrid platforms has required clarifications on this kind of technology.

The basic system involves the pairing of an internal combustion engine with one or more electrical motors. These provide the driving force but the fuel is taken from high capacity battery array that releases energy to the motors together with one or more clutch mechanisms and controllers or capacitors that regulate the power generated in the vehicle.

The internal combustion engine is larger than the electric motor, as it provides more power during acceleration while the electric motor has a smaller output capacity. When the brakes are used, additional energy and power is generated and then captured for storage in the battery for later use.

The technology involved in hybrid vehicles is amongst the cutting edge in the market today, but the different car manufactures differ in design, functionality, efficiency and costing for these vehicles. To some extent, carmakers are trying to provide options for they hybrid market and an example is General Motors with three different hybrid platforms across many of its brands.

Despite the differentiated designs, the basic objectives remain the same. These include allowing each powertrain to operate efficiently, such as electric motors for better acceleration while gasoline engines would do more work when cruising down the motorway. Even the kind of fuel and which platform would be the main and which is the assist varies across makes and models for vehicles currently in the market today.

As the technology improves, the issues regarding the hybrid technology increase. This includes common nomenclature and even standardized measurements would come to fore. The cost of research and development would also increase tremendously, as the demand for efficiency and range further increases and the ultimate determinant would be the sticker price to the consumer. With all these that lie ahead, the hybrid vehicle surely would have a long way to go but is assured of a fulfilling future ahead.

The Detroit Hybrid Electric Car Show

some cars at zero pollution
some cars at zero pollution

Automakers now have to contend with increasing fuel economy standards and government regulations and as a response, more and more hybrids and electric cars have been showcased in the latest Detroit Auto Show currently underway.

Despite analysts’ expectations that the hybrid market would grow significantly in 2012, the main drawbacks continue to be the lower pump prices for gasoline and higher purchase cost for these kinds of vehicles. The automakers such as Toyota, Honda, Ford Motor, and others, continue to build and market hybrids and other plug-in vehicles.

Electric and hybrid cars cost several thousand more than internal combustion engines. BMW said that the ActiveHybrid 5 would be priced at $8,700 above the gas-fueled 535i. For GM, the Volt costs double compared to the Cruze, after the federal tax credit application.

While consumers are able to recover their costs for purchasing alternative fuel vehicles within a year, the lower gas prices has extended that recovery to more years. Another drawback is that the shortages in batteries and other important parts held back sales last year.

According to Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of Nissan said, “We have a bottleneck with the batteries.” He added that he is expecting supplies to increase as their flagship Leaf goes online in markets in the United States. The electric car and battery arrays would start to be built in Tennessee, United States.

Ghosn further adds, “A lot of consumers are thrilled that they have the option of buying an electric car. We sold 9,700 the first year. We can double that. I am much more optimistic on the prospects for electric cars than many people. We are very, very far from our potential.”

As for GM, the carmaker is planning to sell 45,000 Volts in 2012 even if they fell short of their 10,000-unit target for the previous year. GM’s CEO, Daniel F. Akerson said that the company would build as many Volts as the demanded by the market. He said, “We’re going to match production with demand. There are new variables in the equation, so we’ll see.”

Toyota for its part would unveil its Prius C, a smaller version of the most popular hybrid in history, the Prius. The original Prius sales dipped 3.2 percent last year mainly due to the disasters in Japan. The company is also making available the Prius V this fall and the plug-in Prius this spring season with unveiling of a hybrid plug-in concept named the NS4 while Lexus, the company’s premium brand would be unveiling a hybrid sports coupe concept.

Other carmakers also had their own versions. For Honda, its upscale Acura brand unveiled two hybrid versions, namely the ILX and the NSX. These vehicles would be built in its new Ohio plant. For Volkswagen, the Jetta model would unveil its hybrid version while Mercedes would also unveil two E-class hybrids. These German hybrids would not be available in the United States. Volvo would also have its very own hybrid plug-in concept.

Do Hybrid Cars Help or Hinder the Electric Car Market?

As we see the electric car market continue to develop around the world many of the breakthroughs in the headlines today have come via hybrid cars. While there is certainly demand for hybrid cars, i.e. vehicles which have two or more power supplies, do these types of vehicle hinder or help the electric car market?

The benefits of a hybrid car

There are many benefits available from hybrid cars which include:

Reduced emissions

Even though there are some hybrid vehicles on the market that appear to offer very little in the way of economic savings, any vehicle which has an electric power supply and another supply, such as petrol or gasoline, will automatically fall into the reduced emissions bracket.

Less maintenance

Even if your hybrid vehicle operates on electric power only 10% of the time then this will reduce the number of moving parts and ultimately have an impact on maintenance. Less moving parts mean less wear and tear which ultimately means less maintenance. Less maintenance means a more efficient vehicle and a reduction in maintenance costs.

Reduce fuel bills

Even though the likes of the Chevrolet Volt has been criticised somewhat because of the fact it is ultimately powered by traditional fuels such as petrol or gasoline for the majority of the time, it still appears to be more efficient than the traditional cars on the market today. Even just the slightest hint of electric power will significantly reduce fuel bills, and with the price of oil very volatile at the moment this can be of great assistance to drivers.

The ability to combine two power supplies

The ability to incorporate two different power supplies into one vehicle has obvious advantages in that if one power supply is low then the other can be switched on and vice versa. Hopefully as electric car technology continues to improve we will see new hybrid vehicles allowing a larger percentage of journey times to be powered by electric which will ultimately improve all of the above aspects.

The downsides to 100% electric powered cars

While there are many benefits to using cars which are 100% powered by electric, with no liquid fuel such as petrol or gasoline involved, there are still a number of practical issues to resolve. To put the whole matter into perspective, when was the last time you saw or heard about an electric vehicle recharging point?

The truth is that while there are many more benefits to the electric car than the vast majority of us will be aware of, until we have electric car power points available across the UK, and across the world, the market will remain subdued. While we see the likes of the UK government introducing a multi-million pound electric car trial across the UK and Boris Johnson hoping to introduce in excess of 100,000 electric vehicles to London's over the next few years, the signs are good but there is still much work to be done.

Do hybrid cars detract from the benefits of electric vehicles?

One vehicle which has caught the headlines over the last few months has been the Chevrolet Volt which has been introduced by General Motors. As we suggested above, this is a vehicle which has been put forward as a hybrid car when in fact it is actually 90% powered by traditional fuel although because the fuel powers the electric generator, which then powers the motors, it can be classed as a hybrid. But is this type of vehicle impacting upon the perceived benefits of electric cars?

There is no doubt that allowing hybrid vehicles to be predominantly powered by traditional fuels does take away much of the benefit perceived to be available via the electric car. Those who have not done their homework may not be aware of the situation regarding the likes of the Chevrolet Volt and ultimately may see this as the "car of the future". Even though there are obvious benefits to this particular vehicle, which uses fuel to power the electric motors which drives the car, there are still emissions and it is still using substantial amounts of fuel.

After fighting tooth and nail for many years to push electric cars into the limelight, surely General Motors (which has been long accused of trying to "kill the electric car") cannot yet again spoil the party?

The next few years are vital for the electric car industry

There is no doubt that despite a number of false dawns in the past, the electric vehicle and ultimately the electric car is entering a very important phase of its development. If the vehicles do not take off over the next 10 years, for whatever reason, then it is highly likely that their eventual delivery into the mass market could take many more years to complete. However, while the likes of General Motors appear unconvinced about the potential for 100% electric powered cars, companies such as Tesla Motors are leaving companies such as General Motors behind in this particular field.

If Tesla motors, and other similar companies committed to the electric vehicle, can become the leaders of the pack on a long-term basis then we could see the influence of the likes of General Motors, Ford and other prominent traditional car manufacturers reduced in favour of the likes of Tesla.

Conclusion

While there is no doubt that the hybrid vehicle offers a very useful halfway house between traditional fuel powered cars and electric vehicles, there is a need to be honest with the public and explain that many hybrid cars are in effect powered by traditional fuels. Many motorists who think they're buying an electric car might be disappointed to find out it is almost wholly powered by traditional fuel and this could scare people away from the sector.

However, as long as the likes of Tesla Motors and other electric car companies continue to grab the headlines, the ability of such companies as General Motors and the like to dictate the future direction of the market is reduced. Make no mistake, as soon as General Motors and Ford for example see that this particular market is here to stay and is taking off, they will bombard the market with their own electric vehicles!

An Overview of the Electric Car Market

In this age of green policies and quests to save the environment the subject of electric cars is something which has become more and more central to more and more governments around the world. While many people may believe that electric cars are a fairly new addition to the worldwide transport sector you may be surprised to learn that the electric car is one of the oldest vehicle designs in the world and has a history which goes back to the 1830s.

However, there are many issues to cover with regards to the electric car market, why it has not taken off as yet, what is holding it back and what the future holds.

A brief history of the electric car market

Scottish businessman Robert Anderson has the mantle of inventing the first electric car and while the exact date of his invention is unclear it appears that happened between 1832 and 1839. While this was one of the more crude electric carriage vehicles it set about chain of events which has seen the electric car take centre stage in the 21st century.

While Anderson was the first to officially invent an electric car there were also other designs released to the market in the 1830s with Prof Sibrandus Stratingh of Holland another inventor who made his mark at a very early stage. However, it was not until American designer Thomas Davenport and Scotsman Robert Davidson stepped into the breach in 1842 that the sector really began to take shape. These inventors were the first to use non-rechargeable electric cells or batteries as we know them today.

We will cover the history of the electric car in more detail in later articles, but this is basically how the electric car market began unfolding and created a base for what will be potentially the largest transport sector in the world in years to come.

The oil market

There are many factors which came together to increase the use of petrol powered cars which included the discovery of significant oil fields around the world, which saw the price of oil fall and become more affordable to the masses. With oil apparently in plentiful supply in the 1900s we saw the development of worldwide car companies such as Ford, and the like, who channelled all of their investment funding into the petrol and gasoline car market.

Political issues

There is a general feeling that governments around the world, keen to stamp their authority on the worldwide transportation sector, were very positive on oil and fairly negative on the use of electric cars in their local markets. The use of oil-based fuel created a significant income stream for governments around the world, through taxation and oil sales, and also created a vehicle industry which would go on to employ millions of people around the world.

As the supply of oil came under more and more scrutiny, with fewer and fewer oilfields discovered on regular basis, many governments around the world turned to immature technologies which they could use as a new tax income stream for the future. Many people would be surprised to know how advanced the electric car market is today although there is still limited visibility in many markets around the world and still a significant bias towards oil-based fuel vehicles.

The environment

As it became more and more apparent that harm to the environment, green issues and greater fuel efficiency were factors dominating the minds of many voters around the world it did not take governments too long to realise the potential for votes. As a consequence, each and every political party around the world now has "green issues" which they use to attract the attention of voters and ultimately increase their potential support base.

However, many people believe that the various summits which have received worldwide attention appear to pay lip service to the issue of electric cars with very little follow-through. Indeed the UK government recently introduced a car scrappage system which had been targeted at more efficient fuel systems such as electric cars, but it now appears as though no cars are currently in production which fit the criteria and as such the vast majority of scrapped cars are being replaced by more efficient oil-based fuel vehicles. Was this a missed chance?

The problem of distance

When the electric car market began to evolve in the 1800s there were literally no national transport networks in the vast majority of countries around the world therefore short distance travel was all that was on offer. This allowed the use of fairly basic electric cars such as those invented in the 1830s but as transport networks began to grow it became wholly apparent that oil fuel based vehicles held a significant advantage over electric cars.

While there have been significant improvements in electric car technology over the last few years, many people are still concerned about the distances these cars can travel before they need to be "recharged". However, there is a train of thought suggesting that governments around the world are still holding back on promotion of the electric car industry in order to squeeze the last drops of revenue from the declining worldwide oil market.

Hybrid vehicles

As the slow shift from oil fuel based vehicles towards electric vehicles continues to evolve we have seen the introduction of a number of hybrid vehicles which have both an electric power source as well as a traditional combustion engine. This allows the use of oil-based fuel and electric power from one vehicle with the driver able to switch between the two at appropriate points in their journey.

Even though the hybrid system is very much a "halfway house" between electric cars and oil fuel-based cars there has been some difficulty in encouraging consumer acceptance. When this stigma is removed once and for all this will be a significant weight off the back of the electric car industry and potentially open up the sector to more development, more investment and ultimately more demand from consumers.

Conclusion

There have been a number of false dawns regarding the electric car market over the decades and centuries although there appears to be a significant shift towards this particular area of late. Governments around the world are seeing their oil-based income "dry up" and are looking towards new, more fuel-efficient transportation vehicles.

It will be interesting to see how governments around the world balance their need for income, to fund government activities, against the well-being of environment. Many people believe this is the argument that has held back the development of electric cars for many years with a number still sceptical that government policies have changed for the better for consumers.