Renault Group

The range of hybrid cars

27 March 2020
5 min
Hybrid cars combine a combustion engine and an electric motor. But how does this combination affect range, particularly in all-electric mode?
by Renault Group

What is the range of plug-in hybrid cars?

Plug-in hybrid (or rechargeable) cars combine a traditional combustion engine with a battery that can be plugged into an outlet to charge before driving. Plug-in hybrids can thus cover several dozen kilometers functioning as a 100% electric car, offering a smooth, silent ride. When the battery is empty, the rechargeable hybrid car acts like a traditional hybrid, recovering energy during deceleration and braking while the electric motor continues to boost the combustion engine when accelerating or starting the car. Even with an empty battery, plug-in hybrid cars generally release less CO2 than traditional combustion engine vehicles. As well as this, they have the advantage of being able to function in 100% electric mode for short everyday trips while also being able to cover hundreds of kilometers in hybrid mode.

The range of a hybrid vehicle compared to a plug-in hybrid

From a purely mechanical point of view, traditional and plug-in hybrids contain the same parts, namely a combustion engine, 1 or 2 electric motors, and a battery. The primary difference is in the capacity of the latter, which is only around 1 kilowatt-hour (kWh) for typical hybrids, and can reach up to 9.8 kWh in Renault’s plug-in hybrids.
After being plugged into an electrical outlet, plug-in hybrids can travel several dozens of kilometers in 100% electric mode. The Renault Captur E-Tech Plug-in, for example, offers up to 50 kilometers of range in 100% electric mode, which is enough for most people’s everyday trips without consuming a drop of gas.

Traditional hybrids don’t have this option, but they do regularly switch to electric mode for short periods, as their small battery recharges quickly while driving. This makes them perfect for use in cities and for everyday journeys. The new Renault E-Tech hybrids allow you to carry out 80% of your city driving in 100% electric mode! The result? A nearly 40% reduction in consumption on an urban cycle.

What determines the range of a hybrid car?

The electric range of a vehicle, whether it be 100% electric or a plug-in hybrid, depends on several factors.

Driving style

Sudden accelerations, abrupt braking, and failure to anticipate all lead to increased energy consumption. In addition, these behaviors do not lead to efficient energy recovery during the deceleration phases, which are too short.

Road type

The range of rechargeable hybrids is lower on very hilly roads or highways. Elevation changes and high driving speed overtax the electric motor.

Outdoor temperature

When the weather is very hot or very cold, plug-in hybrids must draw on their battery power to heat or cool the interior, which decreases the electric range.

Is it possible to increase a plug-in hybrid car’s range?

Users of rechargeable hybrids should opt for the 100% electric mode as often as possible to save money and pollute less. Here are some ways to do that.

Recharge the battery as soon as possible

It’s logical: to cover the greatest distance in electric mode, the battery must be charged to full capacity. Use public charging stations, and plug your car in at home or at work, as many employers encourage their employees to do. You can even use a traditional domestic outlet.

Adopt an eco-driving style

The key word is anticipation! Instead of waiting to brake until the last possible moment, ease up on the gas well in advance, taking advantage of the car’s energy recovery system. Accelerate to reach your cruising speed, then maintain it by pressing lightly on the pedal. In traffic, always maintain a safe distance between you and the car in front, to leave yourself time to react. And finally, you should know that electric motors work best in cities, where the average speed is lower, and there are more opportunities to recover energy (red lights, slowing down, etc.) City driving situations are where you will get the best range out of your rechargeable hybrid car.

Pre-condition the interior before leaving

With plug-in hybrid cars, when it is very hot or cold, it is best to pre-condition the interior, which means heating it up (or cooling it down) when the car is still plugged into the outlet. Adjusting the temperature of the car consumes a lot of energy. So, by pre-conditioning, you are using electricity from the grid rather than consuming battery power and thus decreasing range. Pre-conditioning can be done remotely through the MY Renault application. Once you’re on your way, the heating and cooling system will merely need to maintain the desired temperature inside the car, which requires much less energy, saving that much more of the battery for a few extra kilometers!


Copyright : BROSSARD Yannick

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