Do Hybrids Have A Place In Enthusiast’s Hearts?

Mention the word hybrid in the automotive context and more than likely, the reaction around you will be the stereotyped image of a Japanese commuter car that’s more attuned to sipping fuel than giving a car guy an exhilarating drive. And that wouldn’t be far from reality, as it’s cars like the Prius that have made hybrid cars an acceptable alternative to cars running on gasoline, diesel or LPG alone. Millions of Prii have been sold by Toyota and that wouldn’t be the case if the car did not live up to the expectations of consumers.

Although high performance hybrid-electrics look to be fairly common nowadays, it was cars like the Tesla and Karma that opened the eyes of enthusiasts to the possibilities of the sporting electric car. Now, manufacturers from GMC to Porsche have offerings like the CR-Z, the Cayenne SUV, the Sierra medium truck and the RAV. In effect hybrids have come of age and a little expenditure on aftermarket accessories is all a new owner needs to remove that cookie-cutter look from his/her green car.

Before we dismiss the new crop of hybrids are anything but boring, consider that electric motors produce their torque from zero rpm. In a street car or SUV, torque is what makes the vehicle accelerate hard and fast from a stop. In the urban jungle, this is exactly what you need to pass those pesky cabs or close gaps in traffic. Electric motors have these in abundance and in fact surpass small engines in this aspect. Actually, even big engines. In a recent video posted on YouTube, a Tesla Model S sedan out-accelerated a BMW F10 M5 to 100 miles per hour – two out of three times. And the Tesla S isn’t the fastest-accelerating hybrid out there. At the moment, the king of the hybrid hill is the Infiniti M35h. So the performance is there. And remember, unlike a pure electric, a hybrid still has an internal combustion engine to help power the car and charge the batteries. So you can still take that road trip and blast down that winding road. With hundreds of dollars left over to splurge on refueling yourself, instead of pouring all that money down the gas tank. Or enough money left over to equip your hot hybrid with a performance suspension.

One aspect of traditional performance cars that hybrids will never be able to copy is the beautiful sound of a highly tuned engine. Some manufacturers are reportedly trying to develop aural systems that will help mitigate the loss of that audible symphony. Certainly, aftermarket accessories like exhaust systems will suffer from slow sales. It remains to be seen though how that will be accepted by the public. What’s a fact at this point is that high performance hybrid electrics are here. If manufacturer’s offerings are any indication, it seems that there’s enough interest in these cars to keep on developing them.

Sustainable and Born Electric

How will our future look like? How will our streets look like? What will be the transportation tool that we will use to go from point A to point B? Can we make it faster?

Well, the electric car is born and it seems that it will be there for a while to please our needs. It is what everybody wants, right? A cheap, sustainable and clean type of transportation that goes as fast as a regular car. That is exactly what we need. But, now you might be thinking “Wait a minute. That is not the future! That already exists!” And you would be right. But, the current electric cars on the market are not ready to meet our needs yet. They are expensive, low miles range, and slow to fully charge. Plus, if you are traveling somewhere and your battery is running low, you need an electric charging station to connect your vehicle to a power source. Are those stations everywhere? Are they easy to find? How much would it cost?

So what is happening today? We know that there is a great potential offered by the current electric vehicles. Those cars are very well designed (cool), clean, and creative. People like them. People want to buy them. But they still cannot do so. Those cars are too expensive, too “young” and “inexperienced.” The return on investment is not worth the money yet.

But what can we expect in the near future? Well, most of the biggest car companies are investing huge amount of money in an electric future. They cannot be all wrong right? It is the car of the future. That is undeniable. The “technological boom” will soon allow a 500 miles range with new advanced batteries, and 3 to 5 minutes charging time for a full recharge. Also, some apps will help you find charging stations and show you where to park for the best electric experience you will ever have.

The best part is to come. Let’s imagine a world with only electric vehicles in our streets. Imagine going to work in the morning at 7:30am and walking in 5th avenue in NYC. Imagine going for a run on a Sunday morning and getting ready for your marathon next month. Imagine taking your wife and children to the football game Saturday night? Imagine having dinner in your small apartment downtown Miami. What would you see? What would you hear? What would you smell? Well, the answer is easy. You would not hear a thing; complete silence coming from the roads. No more noise screaming in your ears. No more loud engines! No more ugly gas stations mixed with black smoke making your eyes watery and red. No more disgusting smells that get into your lungs and burn you deep inside and make your blood pressure go up. Imagine a quieter, cleaner and more peaceful world that would be. I know you would like to live in that world. I do too. We are getting there, slowly but surely…