A recent study based by the researchers of the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory concluded that hybrid vehicles are far more fuel efficient in countries like India and China rather than the US. The study confirms that hybrid vehicles turn out to be 40 percent more fuel efficient, than the conventional models in India and China, due to different traffic and driving conditions in these countries, when compared to the driving conditions in the US.
The study states that a hybrid vehicle can achieve fuel savings of 47-48 percent in India, while the savings rise to 53-55 percent in China. Scientists used a powertrain simulation model called ‘Autonomie’ to create a theoretical hybridised version of the most-selling conventional car in each country. Then, the study simulated drive cycles in two Indian cities namely Delhi and Pune, taken from published studies and also used a modified Indian drive cycle, the test for the official fuel economy rating. In China, the simulation occurred in 11 cities and with three types of hybrid powertrains which include the start-stop system, parallel and power split. In both cases, the hybrid vehicles achieved a higher fuel efficiency compared to the US drive cycle.
The researchers compared the drive cycles used for US fuel efficiency ratings, which include about 55 per cent city driving and 45 per cent highway driving. While in India and China, the traffic snarls, congestion and lack of road discipline are actually favourable conditions for hybrid vehicles to perform more efficiently. The current official fuel economy test does not represent the actual driving conditions in India, thus not testing the fuel efficiency of hybrid vehicles effectively. The current procedure indicates only 29 percent of fuel savings on a hybrid car, when compared to conventional vehicles in the country.
Hybrids and electric vehicles constitute of a minuscule share in India. Moreover, the purchase cost of most hybrid and electric vehicles are higher than conventional vehicles, making them less favourable in a price dominated market. However, the standard of living is only going to increase in the coming months and will be a motivating factor for the automotive industry to experience positive growth. With the boom in car sales, hybrid vehicles will play a significant role in the future to reduce carbon emissions and pollution in emerging markets as well.