The hybrid alternative

Due to a combination of factors (mainly that I broke down last Friday because I had ignored the last car service and fan belts don’t like not being tightened and tend to pop off while doing 70 kph down Sneydes Road in Point Cook meaning you then get towed by a nice bloke – who is only 26 but wants to spend the rest of his life driving trucks and good luck to him knowing what his calling is at such a young age – to the nearest service centre where they’re waiting on a part so would you like a courtesy car, why yes can I have the rather lovely electric/petrol demo on the forecourt please?) I got to drive a hybrid car this week.

It looks like this.


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Now, I can’t give you the low down on how well our off-grid solar system would be able to charge the lithium-ion 330v, 12kWh battery because we don’t have the correct plug for it in the garage.  But, at the risk of sounding like a bad Jeremy Clarkson, I can tell you it runs like a dream.

Starting the engine is very strange, mostly because it automatically uses the battery and therefore is completely silent.  A couple of times, when stopped at the traffic lights, I got a bit nervous at the lack of engine rumble and wondered if it would actually move off at the green.

It’s not until you put your foot down that you hear a roar…albeit a dull one.  The engine automatically tick-tacks between battery and petrol depending on what you need; when in petrol mode, you can choose the “charge” option so the battery is being charged while you’re driving.

I have to admit the battery did seem to drain fairly quickly, but I did do around 90 kilometres between Point Cook (dropping the kid off at jujitsu) and Little River (dropping the groceries home then picking up kid’s forgotten jujitsu belt) then back to Point Cook (delivering kid’s jujitsu belt to him) then back to Little River (to make dinner).  Plus a spin around the block with the husband who wanted to try it out too.

If you wanted to charge the battery (it uses 87kW at 4500 rpm) it would take 5 hours of connection to an electrical socket and cost (on-grid) around 30c according to the sales guy.

At around $50k it’s not a purchase we can make in the short term, but is food for thought.  Anyone else got one, and do you like it?