No one can say for cer­tain what the des­tiny of the au­to­mo­bile will be, but one thing is for cer­tain: hy­brid and full elec­tric au­to­mo­biles are here to stay for the fore­see­able fu­ture. We spend 24 hours with Porsche’s Panam­era S E-Hy­brid to get a taste of h

HWM (Singapore) - - FEATURE - Text by Ken­nyYeo Photography JasperYu Art Di­rec­tion KenKoh

In light of avail­able ev­i­dence, it is hard to ar­gue against global warm­ing. One of the di­rect con­trib­u­tors to this phe­nom­e­non is the in­crease in green­houses gases trapped in the at­mos­phere. Ac­cord­ing to stud­ies, in 2011 in the United States alone, over 6 bil­lion met­ric tons of green­house gases in the form of car­bon diox­ide was re­leased into the at­mos­phere, and that roughly 28% of this was caused by trans­porta­tion in the form of cars, trucks, ships, planes, etc.

To­day, the ma­jor­ity of cars are pow­ered by in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gines that run on gaso­line and diesel. Although en­gines have be­come in­creas­ing ef­fi­cient, th­ese en­gines are in­nately in­ef­fi­cient. In fact, when an in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gine burns fuel, only about 25% to 30% of the en­ergy re­leased is used to pro­vide mo­tive force, the rest is used to over­come fric­tion, tur­bu­lence, power aux­il­iary com­po­nents such as the oil and wa­ter pumps and also lost to the at­mos­phere as heat and noise.

Elec­tric-pow­ered cars can help our cur­rent predica­ment as elec­tric mo­tors are con­sid­er­ably more ef­fi­cient in their use of stored en­ergy and can ef­fec­tively con­vert around 80% of stored en­ergy (in the form of lithium ion bat­ter­ies) into mo­tive force. How­ever, they are limited by cur­rent tech­nolo­gies. For ex­am­ple, elec­tric cars still suf­fer from limited range and the time it takes to charge bat­ter­ies are still mis­er­ably long. Ad­di­tion­ally, there is a se­ri­ous lack of in­fra­struc­ture to sup­port th­ese types of cars to make them prac­ti­cal enough for main­stream adop­tion and wide­spread use.

As a re­sult of the lim­i­ta­tions of present elec­tric car tech­nolo­gies, hy­brid-pow­ered cars are seen as the per­fect so­lu­tion to the en­vi­ron­men­tal co­nun­drums that we face. Be­cause hy­brid-pow­ered cars typ­i­cally rely on both an in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gine and one or more elec­tric mo­tors for propul­sion, they of­fer the best of both worlds - the prac­ti­cal­ity of a tra­di­tional in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gine car and the ef­fi­ciency of elec­tric cars.

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