What Shoppers, Drivers, and Buyers need to know about Hybrids and EVs
Alright, so there’s a lot of talk about hybrids, PHEVs, and EVs as more of them are popping up. It seems automakers are finally getting it – we need to save (or at least do our best to lessen our damage to) the planet! There’s still a long way to go, but some brands like Mitsubishi Motors are expanding their lineup with more fuel efficient options.
Three out of the five Mitsubishi models, — like the non-hybrid but fuel-efficient-low-emission-vehicle, the Mitsubishi Mirage and Mirage G4, the all-electric i-Miev, and the SUV PHEV, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV — are all very fuel efficient vehicles. But what do all of those terms mean — all-electric, PHEV, low emissions, hybrid? Let’s explore.
Types of Hybrids
Let’s get started with some common terms. Hybrid is basically an umbrella term for any vehicle that uses two or more power sources, but that is a very general term and today there are a few different types of hybrid systems.
One type of hybrid is a hybrid that uses a combination of gas and electricity to power the vehicle. A good example of this is a vehicle that can travel purely on an electric motor powered by battery power, or rely on its gas-powered engine, or use both in conjunction.
Okay, how does this work? That would be due to a power split device, a clever design that links the gasoline engine, generator, and electric motor together. This way, an actual hybrid can be powered by either type of energy source and/or both.
The battery charges itself by siphoning power from the internal combustion engine, or gasoline-powered engine, as it runs, and can also reclaim energy through a process known as “regenerative braking.”
Regenerative braking is is a system in which the electric motor that normally drives a hybrid is put on hold, and the generator that charges the on-board batteries with electrical energy absorbs the energy lost when a vehicle brakes. The energy’s gotta go somewhere right? Why not just recycle it back into the vehicle?
There are also hybrids that have a similar system, but the battery is a little bigger so the car can rely on electricity power a little more because the vehicle can actually be plugged in and charged up. This is called a PHEV, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. An example of this is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.
A vehicle that is powered by only electricity is actually an electric vehicle (EV). A good example would be the Mitsubishi i-Miev. An EV is powered by a battery and after one or multiple uses, the battery needs to be charged. Otherwise, it’s a very expensive cinder block. Luckily, many electric ports are opening up around South Florida.
Hybrid Batteries and Recharging
We’d like to focus on electric vehicles for this article, but let’s take a quick second to review hybrid power, as they were the primary vehicle that led to EV conception.
Now, there’s a few terms to cover so the rest of this makes sense. A battery has three major points – the wattage, the battery’s output, and the battery’s capacity. What are all of these?
The definition of wattage is the measure of electric power, expressed in watts, and is expressed as the amount of power a battery may contain. For example, to power the flux capacitor in the Delorean in Back to the Future, you need a power source that can produce 1.21 jigawatts (or a direct lightning strike).
Battery Capacity is directly linked to wattage. Using the same example, if we do in fact have a battery that stores 1.21 jigawatts of power, then the wattage and capacity are the same in this instance. However, just because the battery is capable of putting out this much energy, doesn’t mean its output will be the same. A battery’s output is how much of the power it stores can be drawn out of it at a time.
Remember in the first Back to the Future, McFly went into the past and got stranded? He used up all the power the battery had in one trip, rendering it useless. The same happens with all batteries in the end, but most batteries, like the one powering your MP3 music player, may have a battery capacity of “x amount of power” but it outputs just enough to keep your music player on and functional without burning out in one use.
Are there different kinds of Hybrid and EV batteries?
The simple answer is: Yes. The types of batteries found in Hybrids, EVWS, and soon PHEVs, are: lithium ion (Li-Ion), cobalt dioxide, nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM), nicel-cobalt-aluminim (NCA), nicek-metal-hydride (NiMH), manganese oxide spinel (MnO), iron phosphate (FePo), lead-acid batteries, and ultrcapacitors. Li-Ion and NiMH are the most common used today.
Each has their pros and cons. Li-Ion batteries are the most commonly used, and not just in hybrids but also small devices like cellphones and laptops. Their versatility, energy storage, high energy efficiency, and low self-discharge are the pros. The main con? They are expensive to produce and their life cycle isn’t satisfactory for long drives.
NiMH batteries are also well known, commonly used in computers and medical equipment. They have a longer life-cycle than lead-acid batteries and offer significant power. However, they are even most costly, have a higher output (power drains more quickly), and they evidently die (not able to be charged) quicker via hydrogen loss.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and Mitsubishi i-Miev
Alright, so now that we discussed all of this, the Outlander PHEV and i-Miev might make a little more sense. The Outlander PHEV is a plug-in. The i-Miev is an EV. Let’s look at each one a little closer.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is powered by a 12-kWh (kilowatt-hour) battery. Meaning 12,000 watts of power are being converted into energy to power it every hour. It consists of 80 battery cells, or 80 minuscule devices capable of generating or absorbing electric energy. It can charge 80% of its power in 30 minutes, but takes 3.5 hours to reach a full charge. It has a miles per gallon gasoline equivalent, or MPGe, of about 157 miles. MPGe is the amount of distance traveled per unit of energy consumed, but the Outlander PHEV can only travel 32 miles on electricity, and over 500 miles using both electric and gasoline. Its emissions are 3 milligrams of nitrogen oxide per kilometer traveled.
The Mitsubishi i-Miev is powered by a 16 kWh battery, meaning it converts 16,000 watts of energy into power every hour, and consists of over 100 battery cells spread out through various cell modules. It has a variety of charging options, and it can also reach an 80% charge in 30 minutes if using a public quick-charger port. It has a MPGe of 121 in the city, and a total range of 62 miles. Being an all-electric vehicle, it gives off zero emissions.
All Mitsubishi models come with a basic warranty of 5 years or 60,000 miles, a powertrain warranty for 10 years or 1000,000 miles, and a 7-year or 100,000 mile anti-corrosion limited Warranty. However, on the i-Miev, it has a transferable powertrain limited warranty of 5 years or 60,000 miles, a transferable new vehicle limited Warranty of 3-years or 36,000 miles, and a battery coverage warranty for 8 years or 100,000 miles.