Hybrids are making their way into the automotive world in a big way. No longer science experiments with eye-popping price tags, today’s hybrids are practical, more affordable and represent the new frontier of automotive technology.
With all that new technology, there’s a bit of a learning curve. Completely new acronyms, concepts and equipment are making their way into the automotive language: PHEV, HEV, MPGe and li-ion batteries, just to name a few.
To help clear up the confusion, we went straight to our fans on the Ford C-MAX and Ford Fusion + Hybrid Facebook pages. We asked them what nagging hybrid questions they would like cleared up by the experts at Ford.
Then, we went straight to the top of the Ford Advanced Electrification Center and sat down with Nancy Gioia, Ford Motor Company’s Director of Global Electrification. If anyone can help shed some light on how hybrids work in a language that doesn’t require a master’s degree in electrical engineering, it’s Nancy.
To answer one of the most frequently asked questions, “What’s the difference between a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid?” we need to understand how the battery works with the rest of the car.
“A hybrid doesn’t require a plug, but it has a large battery stored on board that stores energy, and works in combination with electric motors to then help make the vehicle 50 percent average – 70 percent in the city, better fuel economy. But, no change in behavior for the customer, ” explained Nancy.
“A plug-in hybrid…now you have a plug. So overnight – or in four hours – you can recharge your plug-in hybrid and get up to 21 miles, on the cycle that the EPA uses, of full-electric. So, the first thing you do in a plug-in is charge it up, you discharged that electric energy and then what? It runs like a regular hybrid.”
But with advanced batteries and new technology comes additional cost.With all of these fancy new parts and expensive electronics, how does Ford prevent sticker shock?
According to Nancy, “To help make this as affordable as possible at Ford, we’re the only manufacturer – the only one out there – that actually uses the same components for the motors, the power electronics, the cables and the controllers between our hybrid and our plug-in hybrid.”
Now that you understand how the different types of hybrids work, and see that Ford offers some of the most affordable hybrids on the market, you might be asking, “How do I decide which is right for me?”
To answer that, Nancy said you have to ask yourself one question and then do some math.
“Do I get cost-of-fuel savings and insurance and maintenance and all of those things that may offset a slightly higher initial purchase price?”
She added that one thing getting a hybrid won’t cost you is a fun driving experience.
“We want to make sure the drive experience is uncompromised. It’s a real car. It’s fun to drive. It’s good to go down the road. It’s intuitive and easy to use. You’ll enjoy it. It meets all your needs, and gives you a reasonable payback period.”
Want to go in-depth on hybrid technology at Ford? Watch the video to see the whole interview and get answers to other commonly asked questions, such as, “What is MPGe?” and “How does charging work in a plug-in hybrid?”
Are you kicking the tires on a hybrid or electric-powered vehicle? See how the Ford Fusion gives you “the power of choice” and more ways to power your vehicle than ever before.