Kentish Express Ashford & District
Hybrids: All you need to know
You might notice that many manufacturers are offering hybrid models, but what do you need to know before choosing one? Jack Evans explains.
What exactly is a hybrid?
Essentially, a hybrid is a combination of a traditional petrol or diesel engine and an electric motor with batteries. By mating the two together, it allows less strain to be put on the engine, which in turn means it can return better levels of efficiency. Certain models also bring a solely electric range, which allows the vehicle to move without using the engine – only the electric batteries and motor.
I’ve seen a lot about ‘self-charging hybrids’ – what are these?
The term ‘self-charging hybrids’ is used by manufacturers to describe cars which cannot be charged by plugging them into the mains. As such, these cars rely on the engine to provide energy for the batteries. The batteries are also topped up when slowing down through a process known as regenerative braking. Cars like the Toyota Yaris and Honda CR-V Hybrid qualify as ‘self-charging’. They can’t offer the same electriconly range as plug-in variants but do help to return better efficiency over conventional petrol or diesel.
So how does a plug-in hybrid differ?
Plug-in hybrids offer the ability to top-up the batteries by – as the name suggests – plugging them in. This can be done via a three-pin socket at home, or through a wallbox installed outside your home. They can also be charged at public charging points should you need to. The added benefit of a plug-in hybrid – or PHEV – is that they offer a far greater electric range than a standard hybrid. Cars like the BMW X5 xDrive45e, for instance, can travel for up to 54 miles on electric power alone.
What’s the benefit of switching to one?
If you’re looking to lower fuel usage and pay less in tax, then a hybrid makes a great deal of sense. Many PHEVs, for instance, return more than 100mpg when fully charged. When coupled with a fully electric range, it means that if you’re often travelling shorter distances then you’re unlikely to need the assistance of the petrol engine all that often. You’ll be able to charge the batteries at home or via a public charger and then travel using electricity for shorter trips. Of course, over long distances you’ll have to revert to combustion power, but for smaller journeys it’ll make a big difference.
What about for business car users?
It’s those people who require a company car who will see the biggest benefits. Because of the low emissions, many hybrids incur a lower rate of company car tax. The Skoda Octavia, for instance, would incur a 25% BIK percentage charge for the 1.0-litre TSI SE model. Make the switch to the plug-in hybrid, and the BIK rate drops to 6%. The savings are there to be made, that’s for sure.
Is a hybrid a worthwhile switch for all drivers?
Not necessarily. You need to think carefully about the type of driving that you do.
Of course, under the current circumstances we’re all staying at home more than usual, but under normal conditions, the type of trips you conduct will have a big effect on whether or not a hybrid is worthwhile.
If you do longer journeys, then traditional petrol or diesel might still make more sense. As we’ve said, hybrids are at their best with full batteries – and once the batteries are depleted of charge, they simply aren’t as efficient. So if you’re doing long-distance drives which would quickly drain a battery, then a traditionally-powered car might still be the best choice.
However, if you’re only doing shorter journeys, then a hybrid could make a great deal of sense. If, for instance, you’re only doing around 10-15 miles of driving a day, then these could be conducted using electric power alone. You then have the safety net of a petrol or diesel engine should you want to go further afield. Charge at home and you’ll quickly see fuel savings.
Kent athletes have backed a campaign to encourage the public to exercise at home during lockdown.
Paralympic table tennis star Ross Wilson and race walker Tom Bosworth are among the 22 elite athletes to have taken part in #22for22, a video series run by Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and Team England.
Former Holcombe hockey player Sam Ward has also been involved.
The athletes from different Commonwealth sports are demonstrating simple exercises which can be done at home.
Commonwealth champion Wilson, from Minster, was tasked with performing an exercise linked to his sport that a member of the public might be able to replicate at home. In his video, he demonstrates some stretching exercises including a hip flexor stretch which can be done using a chair or the sofa.
Viewers can get involved by trying the exercises and are encouraged to film and upload their efforts to social media.
At the age of 17, Wilson was the youngest member of the ParalympicsGB team at the London 2012 Paralympics where he won a team bronze medal and in 2018, he won the TT6-10 Para table tennis title at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games before becoming men’s class eight world champion later that year.
Commenting on his involvement in #22for22,
Wilson said: “We all know how important it is to keep our bodies and minds as healthy as we can right now but being stuck at home can be challenging.
“Even just a small dose of exercise every day will not only keep you fit, but it will leave you feeling energised and will do wonders for your mental health too.
“I hope that people see our #22for22 videos and feel inspired to move their bodies. Workouts don’t need to be complicated, it’s often the simplest exercises that are the best for us.”
Kent’s commonwealth medallist racewalker Tom Bosworth also featured, showing how a simple plank work exercise can help with core strength.
The long-distance walker from Sevenoaks demonstrates the ‘superman plank’ in the video he produced for the campaign.
Ian Reid, chief executive of Birmingham 2022, said: “Stepping outside for our daily exercise is so important right now, but there are certain scenarios when this might not possible.
“Perhaps you’re having to selfisolate, or even the mid-winter weather stops you from getting out, so it’s just as important that we remember to stay active while we stay at home too.
“Who better to get inspiration from than a Team England athlete? I’d encourage people from all ages and abilities to give these exercises a go.”
Minister for Sport Nigel Huddleston added: “Staying active is so important right now. It is fantastic that Birmingham 2022 and Team England have come together to help keep us moving. I hope they will inspire people across the country to get their daily exercise.”