Cars that have more than one source of fuel are called hybrid vehicles. What is the need for a single car to have 2 or 3 fuel sources? What is driving the need for hybrid electric vehicles? Where is India in the hybrid electric vehicle revolution?
Why India needs hybrid cars?
India’s aggregate gasoline needs are increasing everyday and there is a growing concern about the potential shortage of gasoline. This has given rise to the need for designing and commercializing cars that run on alternate fuels, primarily electricity and also hybrid cars that possibly use 2-3 fuel streams. India has been increasingly gaining popularity as the automotive hub of South Asia and this has triggered the establishment of numerous R&D centers that are pioneering the research in the creation of electric and hybrid vehicles.
Reva raving ahead!
Reva, launched in India in May, 2001 has till date remained the only successful venture in passenger cars driven on alternate fuel. Not categorized as a hybrid vehicle, as it solely operates on electrically charged batteries, the Reva has set the pace for hybrid vehicles in the Indian market. Proud of its nearly 95% indigenous make, the car is very popular among the youth, especially women due to its compact size, user-friendly features, and fuel-efficiency. Despite the launch of subsequent models, its success in European countries, and the company’s plans to launch a new model every year, the Reva is still not the answer for hybrid vehicles in India.
Hybrid vehicles: the in-thing
Several academic institutions have been in the fray for the research on hybrid vehicles and a couple of institutions have unveiled their final products. The Delhi school of Engineering developed a gasoline and electric hybrid car which it showcased in the Annual Green Car Festival in USA in 2006. Code named ‘The Fledge’, its uses a combination of 200Ah lead acid battery and a 13 liter fuel tank. Similarly, the Ten Amity School of Engineering and Technology launched its first tri-fuel hybrid car in June this year. With fuel options of battery, petrol, and auto LPG, it can switch seamlessly from one fuel mode to the other.
Welcome the Hondas and the Fords
In the meanwhile, international auto manufacturers such as Honda and Ford are touting bringing their hybrid cars popular abroad to the Indian market. Honda has announced that it intends to bring the hybrid Honda Civic to India in 2008, but prices of these cars are expected to be a hindrance owing to the excessive duties charged by the government for imports of these cars.
So would you switch to a hybrid car? Do you think the government needs to relax duties on import of hybrid cars? What’s your favorite hybrid in the market?