Electric, hybrid, thermal car … What for whom?

Between the builders’ communication, with fatally questionable objectivity, the speech of certain elected representatives, often ill-informed, and the government’s injunctions, which are not always in touch with reality, Choosing the right new car in 2022 is a challenge. The car is changing. The declared war on diesel, which was so idolized yesterday, and some quasi-fanaticism towards the electric car today testify in part to this. Although one is in daily contact with all types of motorization, we do not have the truth either; simply because when it comes to mobility, there is more than just one.

According to four major motorist profiles, we dare here to specify the most relevant technology. But let us keep in mind that if this future purchase is primarily driven by a possible ecological awareness and a desire to minimize its environmental footprint, it is not uncommon for the best choice to be far… not to change car at all.

Your profile

City motorist whose excursions outside the city remain rare, you do not have the opportunity to easily connect the car to an electrical outlet.

The right choice: the hybrid (or HEV for hybrid electric car)

The members of this large family are sometimes distinguished from each other by a few technical nuances. Most people get their power from a heat engine, in this case petrol, which an electric machine helps to limit consumption. Like the iconic Toyota Prius. Others move on the other hand by relying more on the fairy, the block of candles more often acts as a generator to supply the battery or batteries. Honda’s CR-V driveline is an example. In any case, in the case of a mainly urban use, sobriety is at the meeting.

Of limited capacity (expressed in kWh), however, the “batteries” limit the autonomy in “zero-emission” mode to a handful of kilometers, no more. And still it is necessary that the only force of the electric motor is enough to move the vehicle, which is not always the case! Note that contrary to what some manufacturers ambiguously claim in their communications, the hybrid car does not really recharge itself. But rather thanks to the internal combustion engine and / or the kinetic energy recovered when the car is in motion. So to the fossil fuel tank one way or another …

Your profile

When you live in an urban environment or in the countryside, you travel no more than fifty kilometers daily and are able to easily connect your car to the electrical network at home and / or at work.

The right choice: the rechargeable hybrid (or PHEV for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle)

Its operating principle remains the same as for “just short” hybrids. Except that the battery here has a much higher capacity and the electric motor a much more generous power. The plug-in hybrid is thus capable of traveling dozens of kilometers without using its internal combustion engine (petrol or diesel) and this, up to motorway speeds.

Disadvantages, to pay the extra cost of buying (compared to especially a similar thermal car) requires very regular recharging of the “batteries” to limit fuel consumption to a strict minimum. Otherwise, empty, the numerous quintessential batteries will only be there to multiply the appetite of the thermal block. This recharging may take some time, from one to several hours, depending on the current power (expressed in kW) supplied by the battery and that supplied by the electrical network.

Your profile

You are looking for a vehicle, possibly the second in the family, and you have easy access to a charging station (or a dedicated wall installation), preferably high power.

The right choice: electric

Gone are the days when manufacturers were often content to electrify an existing model (VW Golf, Peugeot 208, Mini, etc.) within their range. Under pressure from European regulations to CO emission targets2 increasingly stringent, a majority today design vehicles dedicated to this type of engines (Renault Zoé, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Porsche Taycan, VW ID.3, etc.) for which the installation of a battery and an electric motor has been planned since their creation. This method allows optimization of the various elements and therefore a more favorable force and autonomy.

The weakness of 100% electric cars is no longer so much their range (about 400 km under real conditions for the best) as their time / ease of recharging. Under the influence of various subsidies, often cumulative, but which will not last forever, their tariffs tend to (very) gradually become more democratic. But with the exception of Tesla, which knew how to develop their cars and the environment that comes with them, it is now up to the infrastructures to get up to speed. In France, the network still suffers from a lack of density and / or reliability so an electric car systematically becomes the only car in a household that is capable of handling all applications.

Your profile

When you escape from the city center, you are required to travel several hundred kilometers very regularly in a short time, all the more so on highways or freeways.

The right choice: thermal

Yes, the car without a battery or electric machine still makes sense. And not just from the point of view of mechanical sensations.

Accused of all evil (which he is actually guilty of for some) diesel has been incredibly modernized in recent years. If it still emits nitrogen oxides (NOx) in particular, which makes it really unsuitable in the city, the famous “fuel oil”, of course, provided it complies with the latest standards, should not produce more fine particles than its gas-fired counterparts.

Used wisely, on long trips swallowed at once, where its pollution control system works optimally, it boasts of sometimes impressive sobriety and offers autonomy to ridicule the electric. And what about minimal downtime …

In a thriving technological context, pure and simple petrol, more readily available for purchase, though often punished with a ruthless punishment, gradually loses its relevance. This type of combustion mechanism nevertheless has more than one trick up its sleeve. By converting to LPG, or better yet, to E85, it provides access (at least for the time being) to significant tax benefits and to a fuel at a knockdown price compared to unleaded and diesel. Which amply compensates for its overconsumption.

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