What is the difference between a full hybrid electric vehicle and a conventional vehicle? Cost is the answer you are looking for, a hybrid vehicle, such as the Chevy Malibu Eco Hybrid, typically a few thousand dollars more than a comparable conventional vehicle.
In a hybrid vehicle, electric motors and a battery pack allow the engine to shut down when it isn’t needed, such as on deceleration and when the vehicle is stopped. At times, such as slow acceleration in stop-and-go traffic, the gasoline engine only runs to charge the battery, leaving the battery pack to run accessories and move the vehicle.
The 2014 Chevy Malibu Eco Hybrid uses this type of system, and is rated at 25mpg [miles per gallon] city and 36mpg highway. For a vehicle this size, 25/36mpg is a pretty good fuel-economy figure, so it might come as a surprise that General Motors will be dropping the Chevy Malibu Eco Hybrid from the 2014 lineup.
As it turns out, General Motors was able to achieve the same fuel economy improvements over a conventional Chevy Malibu, simply by installing start-stop technology [SST]. In the 2014 Chevy Malibu Eco, the redesigned 2.5ℓ four-cylinder engine is paired with a smaller electric motor/generator and extra lead-acid batteries.
On deceleration, the engine shuts down, while slight regenerative braking recharges the batteries. Vehicle accessories run on batteries until the driver releases the brake pedal, at which point the engine starts. The 2014 Chevy Malibu Eco, equipped with SST, is rated at 25/36mpg, yet costs $3,705 less than the Eco Hybrid.
Considering that other hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius, are pushing 55MPG, I wonder if General Motors’ hybrid vehicle technology needs some updating. On the other hand, have we been underestimating the benefits of lighter and cheaper SST?
Image © General Motors