By Kris Walker
Hybrid cars are fuel-efficient cars having two motors that include a gasoline-powered motor and an electric motor. They are provided with a separate system to acquire braking energy that is stored in an onboard battery. On the other hand, electric cars are powered by an electric motor that uses the energy obtained from a controller. The controller in turn tweaks the power based on the use of an accelerator pedal. In addition, electric cars obtain energy from the rechargeable batteries.
The following section will discuss in detail about the Lexus CT 200h, which is a hybrid electric vehicle introduced as a basic luxury hatchback model by Lexus. The CT 200 h was introduced at the Geneva Auto Show at March 2011. Initially, Europe was the prime target for the sale of CT 200h. The car is now being sold across the globe with the trade names CT 200h, CT 300h, and CT 400h.
The Lexus CT 200h is powered by a 1.8 lt VVT-i four-cylinder petrol engine similar to that of Prius and Auris. The vehicle is capable of producing 73 kW and 142 Nm of torque with the help of electric motor/generators present in the hybrid drive system. It is designed on the basis of the Toyota MC platform, which is similar to the one used by Matrix and Corolla. The CT 200h features a rear double wishbone design and a front MacPherson strut suspension. It consists of four driving modes namely EV, Eco, Sport and Normal. The EV mode reduces carbon emissions as it uses only the electric motors while driving. The sports mode improves the vehicle's performance by controlling the stability and traction system while modifying the electric power steering settings.
Besides having an anti-lock braking system, electronic brake force distribution system and a brake assist system, the CT 200h also features safety accessories like eight standard airbags and a vehicle stability control system. A vehicle proximity notification system in turn alerts pedestrians in low tone about the presence of a vehicle.
Hybrid cars have two motors - electric and gasoline, ancillary systems, a regeneration system for producing electricity during braking and a heavy battery. The electric motor does not use energy under idle state and functions better at low speeds and thus reduces exhaust emissions. On the other hand, the gas motor performs better at high speeds and generates more power. In addition, the gas motor can charge the battery during operation. The gas motor automatically starts charging the battery when the battery energy drops, without the need for plugging to an outlet unlike electric cars.
Hybrid cars are more gasoline efficient vehicles with a mileage of 48 to 60 mpg, which is only around 20 to 35% higher than a fuel-efficient gasoline vehicle. However, hybrids cars are expensive and their cost ranges from $19,000 to $25,000 while that of gasoline vehicles ranges from $14,000 to $17,000.
An electric car is solely powered by electricity unlike a hybrid car which is powered using a gasoline engine and then a battery to improve its efficiency. In the beginning, electric vehicles were not adopted owing to their restricted driving range and time required for recharging. However, with the development of new battery technologies, several manufacturers stepped forward to produce inexpensive electric cars with increased energy storage.
Some of the major advantages of electric cars include less operating cost, zero tailpipe emissions and reduced dependency on oil. In contrast to internal combustion cars, electric cars eliminate the need for maintenance procedures like performing emissions checks and changing oil periodically. Moreover, the maximum torque starts from 0 rpm in electric vehicles, which ensures fast and noise-free acceleration times.
Though electric cars are efficient, it takes several hours to recharge the battery. In case of gasoline engine cars, nearly 330 kWh of energy can be pumped into a fuel tank at a time. However, it will take around nine days to generate the same amount of energy from electricity to power electric cars.
Although electric cars have low operating costs and reduced exhaust emissions, they lag in terms of time consumed for recharging. Hybrid cars, on the other hand, have adopted electric motor and gasoline motor to ensure fuel efficiency and to avoid long recharging times. With these favourable parameters, the Lexus CT 200h is gaining widespread acceptance in the automobile market. Several car reviews state the CT 200h has good quality interior design and ultra-low running costs. It offers a firm ride, noise-free environment especially at low speeds, and good security features.
However, the CT 200h compromises on handling comfort and fuel returns when compared to its efficient rivals like Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series. Some reviews say that the steering control in the CT 200h could have been better. Despite an output power of 134 bhp, the driving seems to be quite slow. Also, there is a chance for noise generation when the engine is pushed hard or due to functioning of the gear box. On the whole, though the Lexus CT200h provides low running costs it falls short of certain comforts desired by consumers and offered by other hybrid models.
Lexus CT200 Review - Run Time - 3:26mins