Why Hy­brid Ve­hi­cles?

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Con­trib­uted by: Chador Wangdi, GM Toy­ota, STCBL

Of late, I have at­tended Toy­ota hy­brid me­dia trip in Ja­pan, which was or­gan­ised by Toy­ota Mo­tor Asia Pa­cific Cor­po­ra­tion (TMAP) Sin­ga­pore. I was one among 200 plus par­tic­i­pants from 23 coun­tries across Asia and the Mid­dle East.

Toy­ota hy­brid tech­nol­ogy is rel­a­tively new in Asia and the Mid­dle East re­gions. Con­sumers are there­fore ap­pre­hen­sive of Hy­brid Ve­hi­cles (HV) and its tech­nol­ogy. As a re­sult, the sales vol­ume in these re­gions re­mains low to poor. Lim­ited un­der­stand­ing of the Hy­brid tech­nol­ogy was the main rea­son for the poor re­sponse from con­sumers. Like me, there were many par­tic­i­pants ex­press­ing sim­i­lar kinds of con­cerns on Hy­brid Tech­nol­ogy. Par­tic­i­pants sought clar­i­fi­ca­tion on risk of bat­tery ex­plo­sion dur­ing ac­ci­dents, re­place­ment cost of bat­tery, and shelf life of bat­tery, among oth­ers.

Bhutan launched Hy­brid cars in De­cem­ber 2014 but the re­sponse from cus­tomers re­mains poor. Al­though price could be one of the detri­men­tal fac­tors for low re­sponse, it was how­ever not the only rea­son. STCBL, as the sole Toy­ota dis­trib­u­tor in the coun­try, feels the im­per­a­tive need to ed­u­cate our val­ued cus­tomers and dis­sem­i­nate nec­es­sary in­for­ma­tion about hy­brid ve­hi­cles and its tech­nol­ogy.

There­fore, I would like to share some key points on HV and its Tech­nol­ogy for the ben­e­fit of our val­ued cus­tomers.

1. Why Toy­ota In­vented Hy­brid Tech­nol­ogy?

Emis­sion of green­house gases in­clud­ing car­bon diox­ide (CO2) con­tin­ues to cause a rapid change in weather pat­terns and cli­mate con­di­tions. Air qual­ity par­tic­u­larly in ur­ban cen­tres has been de­te­ri­o­rat­ing over the years. And the im­pact of cli­mate change is vis­i­ble and felt across the globe. As a re­sult, Toy­ota was prompted to seek al­ter­na­tive ap­proaches of show­cas­ing its en­vi­ron­men­tal ini­tia­tives across all as­pects of its busi­ness and be­yond.

Af­ter the Earth Sum­mit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, Toy­ota im­me­di­ately an­nounced Toy­ota Earth Char­ter out­lin­ing its en­vi­ron­men­tal philoso­phies and prin­ci­ples. Toy­ota’s en­vi­ron­ment philoso­phies were founded on the three pil­lars of ‘Con­tribut­ing to Low car­bon so­ci­ety, Re­cy­cling-based so­ci­ety, and En­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion for har­mo­nious liv­ing with na­ture.’

As a man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany, Toy­ota is se­ri­ous about re­duc­tion of CO2 emis­sions at all stages of ve­hi­cle life­cy­cle, in­clud­ing de­vel­op­ment and de­sign, pro­duc­tion, lo­gis­tics and sales. Toy­ota there­fore ven­tured into re­search and de­vel­op­ment of fuel ef­fi­cient and en­vi­ron­men­tal friendly ve­hi­cles, which dates back to 1968 where Toy­ota first started de­vel­op­ing Hy­brid ve­hi­cles. The re­search even­tu­ally cul­mi­nated into the launch of the world’s first mass pro­duc­tion of Hy­brid Ve­hi­cles known as ‘Prius’ in 1997. Since then, it has sold 9 mil­lion Hy­brid ve­hi­cles as on May 2016.

Com­pared to con­ven­tional ve­hi­cles, Toy­ota Hy­brids have col­lec­tively saved 67 mil­lion tons of CO2, which would other­wise re­quire an area of ap­prox­i­mately 22,000 square Kilo­me­ters of trop­i­cal rain­for­est to ab­sorb that amount of CO2. It has also saved 25 mil­lion kilo­litres of gaso­line, which is equiv­a­lent to sav­ing of Nu. 1.32 bil­lion to coun­try’s fuel im­ports.

2. What is Hy­brid Tech­nol­ogy?

A Hy­brid Ve­hi­cle is a ve­hi­cle that uses two power sources, viz. Gaso­line Engine and Elec­tric Mo­tor, which bring about greater fuel ef­fi­ciency. By com­bin­ing the ben­e­fits of Gaso­line Engine and Elec­tric Mo­tor, HV of­fers ex­cel­lent driv­ing per­for­mance and eco- friend­li­ness. When hy­brid ve­hi­cles are in EV mode, only elec­tric mo­tor works and there­fore no CO2 is emit­ted.

While start­ing a car and for light-load driv­ing, elec­tronic mo­tor drives the wheel by us­ing elec­tric­ity from bat­tery. In a nor­mal driv­ing con­di­tion, the engine will split into two power sources; viz. for driv­ing wheels and for feed­ing gen­er­a­tor/mo­tor to sup­ple­ment engine power. Ex­cess elec­tric­ity dur­ing light –load driv­ing is charged to bat­tery.

When the ve­hi­cle is in full ac­cel­er­a­tion mode, bat­tery sup­plies more power to drive the elec­tric mo­tor. As a re­sult, it gains power dur­ing up­hill drive. Dur­ing the de­cel­er­a­tion, mean­ing down hill drive and break­ing; re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing recharges bat­tery au­to­mat­i­cally. There­fore, no charg­ing sta­tion is re­quired. This en­tails no in­vest­ment re­quire­ments from the gov­ern­ment un­like Elec­tric Ve­hi­cles. It also saves fuel con­sump­tion.

Toy­ota’s con­tin­u­ous ef­fort to im­prove HV has re­sulted in un­be­liev­able fuel ef­fi­ciency over dif­fer­ent Hy­brid gen­er­a­tions. The most re­cent 4th gen­er­a­tion Prius gives fuel mileage of 40.8 km/l which is 25.2% im­prove­ment from the 3rd gen­er­a­tion Prius. It is the hottest sell­ing model in Ja­pan, US and Europe. Like­wise, pow­er­train of Prius has also im­proved by 18.2% from the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion.

For a Toy­ota cus­tomer, it has lot of ben­e­fits and rea­son to use Hy­brid ve­hi­cle for per­sonal con­ve­nience. It has huge cost sav­ing on fuel. In­trin­si­cally, it helps to save en­vi­ron­ment, re­duce noise pol­lu­tion and fuel im­port into the coun­try.

3. Safety Fea­tures of Hy­brid Ve­hi­cles

Loss of hu­man lives through roads ac­ci­dents is in­evitable when mil­lions of ve­hi­cles ply on the roads. How­ever, it can be mit­i­gated through in­te­grated ap­proach of safety reg­u­la­tions. Ve­hi­cles should have safety fea­tures and road users should be ed­u­cated and gov­ern­ment in­fra- struc­ture should sup­port safe trans­port sys­tem.

Re­al­iz­ing the im­por­tance of sav­ing hu­man lives, Toy­ota has in­cor­po­rated safety fea­tures meant to cover ev­ery as­pect of driv­ing in ve­hi­cles. It has col­li­sion-ab­sorb­ing body struc­ture, seat­belts and airbags, which are termed as ‘Pas­sive Safety Fea­tures’. These safety fea­tures save lives of pas­sen­gers dur­ing ac­ci­dents.

To pro­tect HV Bat­tery from ex­plo­sion dur­ing ac­ci­dents, HV Bat­tery is placed un­der­neath the rear seat where body rigid­ity of the car is high. Elec­tric wires are prop­erly in­su­lated to avoid elec­tric­ity leak­ages. It has moth­er­board known as ‘Blocks’ that con­trols the func­tions of HV. It is a smart and in­tel­li­gent car. De­spite achiev­ing 9 mil­lions, HV sales glob­ally, not a sin­gle case of elec­tric ac­ci­dents were re­ported. This is a clear case of HV ve­hi­cles be­ing safe from elec­tri­cal shocks and ac­ci­dents.

In ad­di­tion to above, Anti-Lock Brake Sys­tem (ABS) is one of the safety fea­tures in­cor­po­rated in HV to pre­vent brakes from lock­ing dur­ing emer­gency brak­ing. Ve­hi­cle Sta­bil­ity Con­trol (VCS) is an­other safety fea­ture, which helps to pre­vent the wheels from slip­ping side­ways dur­ing sud­den steer­ing to pre­vent skids. VSC safety fea­tures are use­ful dur­ing slip­pery road con­di­tions.

Pre-Col­li­sion Sys­tem (PCS) is an ad­di­tional fea­ture Toy­ota has re­cently in­cor­po­rated in HV. It will alert the Driver with au­dio and vis­ual warn­ings of pos­si­ble col­li­sion. If a driver fails to ap­ply brake, the sys­tem will as­sist au­to­mat­i­cally and stop the ve­hi­cle. This will fur­ther avoid road ac­ci­dents.

4. Hy­brid Bat­tery Test­ing?

Upon in­ven­tion of Hy­brid Ve­hi­cles, the pro­duc­tion of high volt­age bat­tery was in­evitable. Toy­ota has started pro­duc­ing HV bat­tery since 1997. Come De­cem­ber 2016, Toy­ota will achieve 10 mil­lion HV bat­tery pack­ages.

Prior to dispatch of HV bat­tery to as­sem­bly lines, thor­ough tests are con­ducted. Known as Free Fall Test, the HV bat­tery is dropped from a 10-me­tre height with equiv­a­lent weight on the top to see the im­pact on the bat­tery. Like­wise a bucket of water is poured on HV bat­tery to con­firm leak­ages of water into HV bat­tery. As such, no ex­plo­sion and leak­ages were ob­served as the bat­tery is con­cealed prop­erly for all kind of pen­e­tra­tion, crush­ing and ex­ter­nal short-cir­cuit.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the good news for cus­tomers is that the bat­tery is life-long, mean­ing cus­tomers need not worry about re­place­ment of HV bat­tery.

5. Why choose Toy­ota Hy­brid Ve­hi­cles?

Toy­ota cus­tomers have many good rea­sons to choose Toy­ota Hy­brid Ve­hi­cles. Like any gaso­line ve­hi­cles, Toy­ota cus­tomer can use Hy­brid ve­hi­cle with­out hav­ing to worry about charg­ing sta­tions like Elec­tri­cal Ve­hi­cles. HV bat­tery is not only auto recharged while ac­cel­er­a­tion and break­ing the ve­hi­cle, HV bat­tery is a life of car. HV bat­tery is safe from all kinds of dam­ages.

Tech­ni­cally, Toy­ota has earned global lead­er­ship in Hy­brid Tech­nol­ogy. 9 mil­lion Hy­brid Ve­hi­cles have al­ready hit the roads of Ja­pan, US and Europe. In de­vel­oped coun­tries, HVs are more sought in the mar­ket than con­ven­tional ve­hi­cles.

Gov­ern­ment and pol­icy mak­ers also sup­port pro­mo­tion of Hy­brid ve­hi­cles through tax con­ces­sions as it has lots of in­trin­sic ben­e­fits to en­vi­ron­ment, noise pol­lu­tion and econ­omy of the coun­try.

6. Con­clu­sion

It is in­ferred from the above that Hy­brid Ve­hi­cle has many ad­van­ta­geous over con­ven­tional gaso­line ve­hi­cle. Cus­tomer can choose HV for their per­sonal con­ve­nience. It can save 50% on fuel cost and en­joy sound free driv­ing.

No in­vest­ment is re­quired un­like EV. Gov­ern­ment can there­fore pro­mote HV. It has huge cost sav­ing on fuel im­ports be­sides re­duc­ing en­vi­ron­ment pol­lu­tion. It will also mit­i­gate trade deficit in the coun­try.

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