Hybrid Vehicles: Balancing Fuel Economy and Performance

Amidst the surging fuel prices, the Indian automotive sector is shifting its focus to hybrid and battery-electric vehicles. Earlier, there were no hybrid or electric vehicles in the market. But, as automakers in India started seeing a change in demand, especially towards electrification, the Indian four-wheeler market started having BEV and hybrid vehicles. The former has zero emissions, while the latter has fewer emissions.

In India, Tata Motors was the first company to enter the EV market with the Tata Nexon EV. Ever since its inception and with the introduction of other Tata cars in the EV market, its market share has skyrocketed. Witnessing the demand for EVs, other mainstream carmakers in India, such as Honda, Toyota, and Maruti Suzuki preferred to enter the hybrid vehicle market.

That said, Honda India introduced the Honda City Hybrid, while Toyota Kirloskar Motor and Maruti Suzuki came up with the Hyryder and HyCross, and Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara, respectively.

If you ask me which type of powertrain has a better market share, it is the hybrid market, thanks to the introduction of hybrid vehicles from mainstream car manufacturers.

In terms of running costs, hybrid vehicles demand slightly lesser running costs than full-fledged combustion engines. That’s because hybrid vehicles run on electric motors, combustion engines, or in combination. Some vehicles have a certain speed limit to run in EV mode (like Grand Vitara/Hyryder), while some just marginally increase the range, especially in mild-hybrid vehicles.

Types of Hybrid Technology

Furthermore, hybrid vehicles can be had in different types: mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and strong hybrid.

In India, only luxury vehicles had mild technology but now cars like Toyota Hyryder and Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara also have an optional mild-hybrid engine. Check out the Grand Vitara price here.

Both have the same engine options with the same engine output, though. In both SUVs, the mild-hybrid engine is Maruti Suzuki-sourced while the strong hybrid engine is Toyota-sourced. Both can be had with an optional all-wheel drive system (AWD). The ARAI-certified mileage of their strong hybrid variants is rated at 27.97 km/l.

Further, the hybrid version of the Toyota Hyryder is marginally cheaper than the hybrid versions of the Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara. You can check out the Hyryder price list on the autoX website.

Similarly, hybrid-oriented customers can also consider a hybrid sedan- Honda City Hybrid or a MUV- the Toyota Innova HyCross. Please note that all strong-hybrid vehicles in India are mated to a standard eCVT automatic gearbox. The Honda City Hybrid has an ARAI-certified mileage of 27.13 km/l, while the strong hybrid version of the Toyota Innova HyCross has an ARAI-certified mileage of 23.23 km/l. Please note that the real-world mileage figures can vary with the local traffic conditions and individuals’ driving styles.

Moreover, Toyota in India has more experience in the hybrid segment, as they were the only one among the mainstream car manufacturers to offer strong hybrid technology in their flagship sedan, the Camry. Having said that, it should be safe to state that Toyota-operated service centres have more experience in servicing strong hybrid vehicles than any other mainstream car manufacturer.

Along with impressive fuel economy, a hybrid vehicle also offers good performance. As mentioned earlier, hybrid cars mostly have an eCVT automatic gearbox, which tends to make the car feel underpowered because of its mechanism. That is why, an electric motor and a combustion engine have different outputs, giving a good performance combined.

Ways to Improve Fuel-Efficiency

Furthermore, there are several ways to improve fuel efficiency in a hybrid vehicle:

Enabling Start/Stop Feature: This feature can also be used in non-hybrid vehicles. It comes into the role when it detects the car has stopped- common at traffic lights. This feature shuts off the engine, putting it on ignition, as a result, the driver can see improved mileage figures.

Regenerative Braking: It should be worth noting that this tech revolves around kinetic energy. Vehicles with this technology commonly have a Y-shaped infrastructure underneath. The battery is placed at the rear end while an electric motor is placed between the front wheels, and the ends of that electric motor touch the front axles. Those ends heat receive the energy in the form of heat and transfer it to the battery as the front brake pads heat up upon braking.

Also Read: Renault Kwid: The Entry-Level Hatchback


In terms of pricing, hybrid vehicles are relatively more expensive than combustion engines but cheaper than battery electric vehicles. One notable advantage of having a hybrid is the non-existence of “range anxiety,” which is common among electric vehicles. Even a plug-in hybrid won’t let your fear about that.

In terms of long-run running costs, an electric vehicle is cheaper than both hybrid and internal combustion engine-powered vehicles. But, an electric vehicle requires a high initial capital. At the end of the day, it all narrows down to the buyer’s budget and preference.

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