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What are plug in hybrids?

Plug-in Hybrids Advance Electric Mobility The step on the path towards fully electric mobility. By offering a greater range than an all-electric vehicle, this alternative drive system is contributing towards the increasing acceptance and further advancement of electric mobility.

Plug-in Hybrids Advance Electric Mobility

The step on the path towards fully electric mobility. By offering a greater range than an all-electric vehicle, this alternative drive system is contributing towards the increasing acceptance and further advancement of electric mobility. The latest findings show that its CO2 reduction potential is similar to that of a battery-powered vehicle.

The electrification of the powertrain is currently being driven above all by hybridization. Hybrid vehicles, which combine a conventional internal combustion engine and an electric drive system, are becoming a standard feature in the industry and are seen as a bridge technology to all-electric vehicles. This type of electrified powertrain is being introduced across all models and platforms. Engineers distinguish between different types of hybridization.

In contrast to mild hybrid vehicles, which do not have an electric driving mode and therefore have no electric range, a full hybrid can drive for several kilometers on electric power only. However, this system does not offer the possibility to recharge the drive battery externally. The energy for the electric motor is generated exclusively by recuperation. The plug-in hybrid, on the other hand, allows the battery to be recharged. In that respect, it is a full hybrid with the possibility to select an all-electric driving mode and to recharge the lithium-ion battery at an external charging point. The battery in a plug-in system is usually larger than that in a pure hybrid.

All-Electric Driving for up to 100 km

A micro-hybrid, on the other hand, is not considered to be a hybrid vehicle. Basically, it is a conventional vehicle fitted with a start-stop system in which braking energy is converted into electric energy in a recuperation system, where it is stored and used for starting the engine. Micro-hybrid vehicles do not have a second drive system.

From a technical perspective, plug-in hybrid systems are particularly interesting because their larger batteries enable them to drive even for longer distances electrically. The real electric ranges of the plug-in hybrids currently available on the market are around 60 km. Only the BYD F3DM achieves just under 100 km on a single battery charge. This car, which is manufactured by the Chinese carmaker BYD Auto, is considered to be the worlds first mass-produced plug-in hybrid car.

CO2 Reduction Potential the Same as a Battery Electric Vehicle

What all plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) have in common is that the overall range from the combination of an electric motor and internal combustion engine is far superior to that of a battery-powered electric vehicle. For that reason, plug-in hybrids are particularly suitable for high-volume segments. Experts estimate that currently around 40,000 plug-in hybrid vehicles are being operated in Germany. The combination of an internal combustion engine and an electric motor has a carbon dioxide reduction potential that is identical to that of all-electric cars.

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI) and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) compared the driving performance of 49,000 battery-powered vehicles and 73,000 plug-in hybrid vehicles in Germany and the USA. The study revealed that plug-in hybrids with a real electric range of about 60 km drive the same number of kilometers electrically as battery electric vehicles, namely up to 15,000 km a year. The CO2 reduction potential is just as high as that of electric vehicles that are powered by a battery alone.

Better Carbon Dioxide Balance than an All-Electric Vehicle

This means that plug-in hybrids are a good addition to battery electric vehicles when it comes to reducing greenhouse gases. This is particularly the case when they are charged with power from renewable energy sources. Because plug-in hybrid vehicles have much smaller batteries, less carbon dioxide is released during the production process compared to the production of the larger lithium-ion batteries that are required for electric vehicles. A further advantage of such hybrids is that they encourage public confidence and contribute to the prevalence of electric mobility because, unlike all-electric battery-powered vehicles, they basically have the same range as vehicles with an internal combustion engine.

However, the president of Honda, Takeo Fukui, has criticized the development approach of plug-in hybrids. He is particularly concerned by the fact that these battery-powered electric vehicles still have an internal combustion engine and a fuel tank, thus resulting in additional weight. There is also criticism about the high level of complexity and higher production costs.

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For 77 years, MTZ – Motortechnische Zeitschrift has been the ideal forum for developers in the field of engines and drive trains. Whether it is the basic engine or the complete powertrain, thermodynamics or supercharging, downsizing or electrification – MTZ always offers the very latest solution concepts for powertrain development.

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Throughout the year one of the world’s most distinguished magazines on automotive engineering and engine technology focuses traditionally on topics from powertrains and internal combustion and hybrid engines. Also valuable information out of the field of friction, pistons and fuel as well as simulation and testing or materials play an important part in the magazine’s topic-list. Recently globally most prevailing matters like electric engines and fuel-cell technology, WLTP and RDE or even grid integration of E-Mobility are gaining an increasing importance within MTZ.

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Editor in Chief

Scientific advisory board

The scientific advisory board of MTZworldwide is made up of industry experts who work for leading companies and research institutions. By sharing ideas on a regular basis with the editorial team, the board members help to maintain the high qualitly of the magazine's content. The board provides the editorial team with first-hand information about the latest development trends and offers advice and constructive criticism.

Prof. Dr. techn. Christian Beidl
TU Darmstadt

Dr.-Ing. Ulrich Dohle
Rolls-Royce Power Systems AG

Dipl.-Ing. Markus Duesmann

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Lutz Eckstein

Dr.-Ing. Torsten Eder
Daimler AG

Dipl.-Ing. Friedrich Eichler
Volkswagen AG

Prof. Dr. Bernhard Geringer

Dipl.-Ing. Dietmar Goericke
­Verbrennungskraftmaschinen e.V.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Uwe Dieter Grebe
AVL List GmbH

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jens Hadler

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jürgen Hammer
Robert Bosch GmbH

Dr. Thomas Johnen
Adam Opel AG

Rainer Jückstock
Federal-Mogul Corporation

Prof. Dr. h. c. Helmut List
AVL List GmbH

Dipl.-Ing. Wolfgang Maus
Continental Emitec GmbH

Peter Müller-Baum

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Stefan Pischinger

Wolf-Henning Scheider
Mahle GmbH

Prof. Dr. Hans-Peter Schmalzl
Pankl-APC Turbosystems GmbH

Dr. Markus Schwaderlapp
Deutz AG

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ulrich Seiffert
WiTech Engineering GmbH

Dr. Michael Winkler
Hyundai Motor Europe
Technical Center GmbH

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