Between the communication of the builders, with fatally questionable objectivity, the speech of certain elected officials, often poorly informed, and the injunctions of the government, not always in touch with reality, Choosing the right new car in 2022 is a challenge. The automobile is changing. The declared war on diesel, so idolized yesterday, and the quasi-fanaticism of some towards the electric car today bear witness to this in part. Although in contact with all types of motorization on a daily basis, neither do we hold the truth; simply because when it comes to mobility, there is more than just one.
According to four major motorist profiles, we venture here to specify the most relevant technology. However, let’s keep in mind that if this future purchase is above all guided by a possible ecological awareness and a desire to minimize its environmental footprint, it’s not uncommon for the best choice to be by far…not changing cars at all.
Urban motorist whose out-of-town excursions remain rare, you do not have the possibility of easily connecting the car to a power outlet.
The right choice: the hybrid (or HEV for Hybrid Electric Vehicle)
The members of this large family are sometimes distinguished from each other by a few technical nuances. Most draw their driving force from a heat engine, gasoline in this case, to which an electric machine provides assistance in order to limit its consumption. Like the iconic Toyota Prius. Others, on the other hand, move by relying more on the electricity fairy, the block with candles more often acting as a generator to supply the battery or batteries. Honda’s CR-V powertrain provides an example. Anyway, in the case of a mainly urban use, sobriety is at the rendezvous.
Of limited capacity (expressed in kWh), the “batteries” however limit the autonomy in “zero emission” mode to a handful of kilometres, no more. And still it is necessary that the only power of the electric motor is enough to move the vehicle, which is not always the case! Note that contrary to what some manufacturers ambiguously claim in their communication, the hybrid car does not really recharge itself. But rather thanks to the combustion engine and/or the kinetic energy recovered when the car is in motion. So to the fossil fuel tank one way or another…
Living in an urban or rural environment, you do not travel more than fifty kilometers daily and are able to easily connect your car to the electrical network at home and/or at your place of work.
The right choice: the rechargeable hybrid (or PHEV for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle)
Its operating principle remains the same as that of hybrids “just short”. Except that the battery has a much higher capacity here and the electric motor, a much more generous power. The plug-in hybrid is thus capable of traveling several tens of kilometers without using its combustion engine (petrol or diesel) and this, up to motorway speeds.
Downside, paying off the additional cost of purchase (compared to an equivalent thermal car in particular) requires very regular replenishment of the “batteries” in order to limit fuel consumption to a strict minimum. Otherwise, empty, the several quintals of batteries will only be there to multiply the appetite of the thermal block. This recharging can take some time, from one to several hours depending on the current power (expressed in kW) admitted by the battery and that delivered by the electrical network.
You are looking for a vehicle, possibly the second in the family, and you have easy access to a charging station (or a dedicated wall installation), preferably high power.
The right choice: electric
Gone are the days when manufacturers were most often content to electrify an existing model (VW Golf, Peugeot 208, Mini, etc.) within their range. Under pressure from European regulations to CO emissions targets2 ever stricter, today a majority design vehicles dedicated to this type of engine (Renault Zoé, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Porsche Taycan, VW ID.3, etc.), for which the installation of a battery and an electric motor has been planned since their genesis. This method allows the optimization of the different elements and therefore a more favorable power and autonomy.
The weakness of 100% electric cars is no longer so much their range (approximately 400 km in real conditions for the best) as their time/ease of recharging. Under the effect of various subsidies, often cumulative, but which will not be eternal, their tariff tends to (very) gradually become more democratic. But with the exception of Tesla who knew how to develop their cars and the environment that goes with them, it is now up to the infrastructures to get up to speed. In France, the network still suffers from a lack of density and/or reliability so that an electric car becomes, systematically, the one and only car in a household, capable of facing all uses.
Fleeing the city center, you are required to travel several hundred kilometers very regularly in a short period of time, a fortiori on expressways or motorways.
The right choice: thermal
Yes, the car without battery or electric machine still makes sense. And not only from the point of view of mechanical sensations.
Accused of all evils (of which he is indeed guilty for some), diesel has been incredibly modernized in recent years. If it still emits nitrogen oxides (NOx) in particular, which makes it effectively inappropriate in the city, the famous “fuel oil”, provided of course that it complies with the latest standards in force, is not supposed to produce more fine particles than its gas-powered contemporaries.
Used wisely, on long journeys swallowed in one go during which its pollution control system works optimally, it prides itself on sometimes impressive sobriety and offers autonomy to ridicule the electric. And what about minimal downtime…
In a booming technological context, pure and simple gasoline, more accessible to purchase, although often penalized by a ruthless penalty, gradually loses its relevance. This type of internal combustion mechanism nevertheless has more than one trick up its sleeve. By converting to LPG, or even better, to E85, it gives access (at least for the moment) to significant tax advantages and to a fuel at a knockdown price compared to unleaded and diesel. What amply compensate for its overconsumption.
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