New Era Of Transportation: Hybrid Electric Vehicles

What Future Entails?

Technology advancement has metamorphosed the world, and so has the ongoing climate crisis caused by air pollution. Countries have been compelled to take the edge off their carbon emissions and diminish the air pollution level affecting human health. Transportation emits billions of tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every year. As per the report on Transportation Emission Worldwide by Statistic Research Department, the sector accounts for almost 20% of global CO2 emissions and is the second largest carbon-polluting sector globally. With the approach to reducing CO2 emissions, the world is shifting from fossil-fuelled internal combustion engines (ICE) to battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs) to curb emissions. People have also been inclined towards hybrid electric vehicles infused with high-end technologies in the race to make an eco-friendly world. 

Astoundingly, EVs aren’t a neoteric development but date back to the late 19th century. The idea might not have sounded promising to be implemented or used back then. Recently, when the tighter wave of CO2 emissions created chaos in the world, and rising fuel prices became a concern for people, EVs emerged out to be the “eco-friendly” and “cost-effective” solution for future mobility. Unquestionably, EVs will be the most preferred choice among people as a mobility medium, but the complete transition from ICEs will require some time, huge capital, and resources. Since EVs development is still in its nascent stage and not robust enough to support mass adoption straightaway, hybrid electric vehicles turned out to be a power-packed solution to make a strong impact in the world. 

With the aim of providing clean and efficient driving and bringing down CO2 emissions, hybrid electric vehicles will really make an impact in the world positively. It is true that EVs are efficient and even better than petrol or diesel vehicles; these vehicles can clearly outperform gasoline vehicles in terms of their environmental impact. NITI Aayog claims that electric vehicles emit fewer greenhouse gasses compared to gasoline vehicles. Since the global EV market is developing at a rapid pace, the Indian EV market is also making a relevant contribution to it. In 2022, 10,23,735 EV units were sold in India, and 11,65057 units in FY23, which clearly depicts the surge in consumer demand for EVs amidst the rising diesel, petrol, and CNG prices. 

The Indian automobile industry has transpired to be the fifth largest globally and is expected to become the third largest by 2023, with a CAGR of 36%, as per India Brand Equity Foundation. NITI Aayog also aims to achieve EV sales; 70% for all commercial cars, 40% for buses, 30% for private cars, and 80% for two and three-wheelers by 2030 in accordance with achieving net zero carbon emission by 2070. As India has left no stone unturned to adopt the hybrid electric vehicle mobility model, the arrival of the Toyota Innova Hycross has marked the fourth biggest hybrid launch this year. In addition, the recently launched Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara has claimed to sell 8,000 units alone in October 2022. 

Regardless of how enticing hybrid electric vehicles are, these models come with their own set of challenges, creating a concern for people in their buying decision. The complex powertrain construction in HEVs makes them onerous to maintain compared to pure ICE vehicles. Battery disposal, recycling, replacement, and maintenance cost can be the challenges that can halt people from buying hybrid vehicles. Despite their cons, hybrids are, beyond any doubt, more environmentally friendly than ICE vehicles with low levels of emissions. Falling into three categories; mild hybrid, strong hybrid, and plug-in hybrid, all these entail IC engines, while dependency varies in each type. While strong and plug-in hybrid can run purely on electric power for limited distances, ensuring a relaxed and quiet driving experience. Additionally, the advanced features of automatic start/ stop aid in saving fuel and money simultaneously. As hybrids reduce the dependency on petrol/ diesel and, most importantly, charging stations, their sales will surely increase in the future. 

While most brands are in favour of EVs, the car market leader, Maruti Suzuki, believes that hybrids are the most relevant solution for the Indian market with the limited vehicle charging infrastructure. 

“Hybrids are scalable and do about 40 per cent of the job of an EV in terms of CO2 reduction and energy efficiency. They are probably 100 times scalable. So, in the medium term, they will be a good option. And, of course, EVs also have to be pursued for the long term. So, all options have to be worked upon.”

  • Rahul Bharti, The Executive Director, Corporate Planning and Government Affairs, Maruti Suzuki 

Brands like Tata Motors, Hyundai, MG Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra are widening their space for EVs because of the high Goods and Services Tax (GST) levied on hybrid vehicles. 

Hybrid vehicles carry 28% GST along with 15% cess, while EVs only carry 15% GST and no cess, making an easy choice for manufacturers. Since the rage for hybrid vehicles is growing amongst people, the government should curb GST to accelerate the country’s growth while simultaneously reducing CO2 and creating an eco-friendly environment. 

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