12 May, 2021

Electric vehicle technology has proliferated over the last few years; customers are now spoiled for choice when it comes to buying vehicles that feature partial or complete electrification. Vehicles with partial electrification—hybrids—come in a variety of different configurations, complicating the decision even further. Let’s take a look at what these two car categories have to offer, and which one will suit you best: 

What are hybrid vehicles?

A hybrid vehicle, simply put, is one that uses a combination of an internal combustion engine (ICE) and an electric motor to power itself. The electric motor can play a dominant or supporting role, depending on the type of hybrid system employed by the vehicle:

1. Series Hybrid

A series hybrid is the most traditional hybrid set-up. Here, the vehicle has a battery-electric system that powers it at lower speeds and in low load conditions, while a smaller ICE kicks in to supplement the power at higher speeds and in high load conditions. The smaller ICE, deployed only in its ideal efficiency range, makes a series hybrid vehicle fuel efficient, especially in urban driving conditions. 

2. Plug-in Hybrid

A plug-in hybrid relies even more heavily on electrification. A plug-in hybrid employs a battery and electric motor set-up as well as a small ICE. But the ICE does not power the vehicle directly at all; instead, its sole purpose is to generate electricity to charge the battery, which in turn provides power to the electric motors to move the vehicle. Plug-in hybrids, as the name suggests, can also be plugged in to charge the battery. Plug-in hybrids are more complicated than other types of hybrids (as well as fully electric vehicles), but offer a good balance between range reliability and fuel efficiency.

3. Mild Hybrid

The simplest and most cost-effective hybrid system, a mild hybrid employs electrical components in a supporting role. In this type of a hybrid vehicle, the ICE shuts off during idling conditions and can be started again almost instantaneously by the hybrid system when you need to move again. A mild hybrid can also include a regenerative braking system for additional energy preservation which works by storing and converting the loss of energy during braking into electric energy. It can be used as a torque-fill to supplement the ICE under heavy-load conditions such as quick acceleration or driving uphill.

Powered by a robust, first in mass car segment 48V Hybrid system, the MG Hector 2021 employs a mild hybrid system that incorporates all three of the above features: engine idle start/stop, regenerative braking, and E-Boost technology. The E-boost technology assists the conventional turbocharging systems to ensure improved fuel efficiency and a better driving experience. 

What is a fully electric vehicle?

A fully electric vehicle relies solely on stored electric power to move the vehicle. EVs store energy in a large battery which powers one or more electric motors that actually propel the vehicle. Owing to the minimal number of moving parts, EVs are the least mechanically complicated vehicles, and are also completely emissions-free. They usually offer lower running costs than traditional ICE or hybrid vehicles too, depending of course on the cost of electricity. 

The range of electric vehicles depends on the density of their batteries (and other factors like vehicle weight and driving style). For instance, the MG ZS 2021 offers a range of 419 km on a single full charge, owing to its class-leading 44.5 kWh battery. Electric vehicles are almost completely silent to run, their low centre of gravity affords them fantastic handling characteristics, and they offer a gushing amount of instant torque (353Nm from the get-go in the case of the MG ZS). 

Which one is right for you?

Choosing between a hybrid and a fully electric vehicle depends on your use case and circumstance. Hybrid vehicles can be cheaper to buy and are great for improving fuel efficiency for those who might not have easy access to vehicle charging infrastructure. They might also be a better option for drivers who need to drive distances longer than the range afforded by an electric vehicle, especially through non-urban areas where charging infrastructure is limited or currently non-existent.

For urban drivers with access to charging infrastructure, the emission-free, low maintenance, and quiet nature of electric vehicle is a great option. The MG ZS, for instance, offers a range of 300-400 km in most conditions, which is more than enough even for some intercity trips, coupled with great performance and low ownership costs. 

In either case, choosing a hybrid or fully electric vehicle is bound to afford the owner substantial savings in fuel costs while reducing their on-road emissions.