Plug-in hybrid cars have become one of the most popular options for buyers who support sustainable mobility. Their sales increased by 133.9% in Europe in the first quarter of 2020, according to data from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association. The reasons for this are: their zero label (if they have an electric range of more than 40 km), an attractive price and the versatility they offer by having two different engines.
Below is a guide to making the most of their infinite possibilities in everyday life, with the SEAT Leon e-HYBRID as an example and its modes indicated according to the type of journey to be made.
1. Daily routes of up to 60 km: e-Mode.
Sales of plug-in hybrids increase by 134% in Europe in the first quarter of 2020.
Hybrids start up in electric mode by default and continue until the battery is used up. Then, without the driver having to make any selections, the combustion engine takes over. The changeover would also take place if the car needed more power or if a particular speed was exceeded. “In the case of the Leon e-HYBRID, it can be driven in electric mode up to 130 km/h” says Gerhard Lux, who is responsible for the development of Hybrid and Electric Drive at SEAT. Lux adds that “it would be suitable for daily trips of around 50-60 kilometres both in urban areas and on the motorway. This way the car would always run in electric mode”.
2. More than 60 km planned trips: Auto Hybrid-Mode.
When journeys are combined and exceed the capacity of the battery, the hybrid mode fully fulfils its function. The electric motor is no longer the default. In this case it is best to have a route indicated in the navigator for the vehicle to make its estimates. “Thanks to the Auto Hybrid-Mode, the car uses the navigator to manage the use of battery power. In this way, it will prioritise the electric mode in city driving and make it secondary on sections of motorway. The aim is to reach the recharging point with a depleted battery”, explains Gerhard. For more complex routes with intermediate stops, the Intelligent Hybrid function manages which system to use to optimise the charge.
3. Journeys with no fixed plan: Manual Hybrid-Mode.
Since life cannot always be planned, sometimes you don’t know in advance where you’ll have to go by car. For example, when you have to make several trips for work during the course of the day, or take a journey “on the fly”. In these cases, the Leon e-HYBRID offers several possibilities. “You can choose from three options: keep the charge stable, choose a minimum battery level that cannot be exceeded so that it can be used when needed, and finally increase the level” says Gerhard.
A close look at a hybrid.
Versatility, sustainability and zero label, some of the keys to growth in the segment.
In order to know how to maximise the performance of a PHEV, it is important to know them inside out. A plug-in hybrid has all the parts of a combustion model and all those of an electric. There are two engines, one that is powered by the fuel tank and an electric one that is powered by the batteries, which are charged by the brakes and when plugging it in. “The engines can be operated separately, but if more power is needed they can work at the same time. On the Leon e-HYBRID, the result of combining both engines gives a power of 204 hp” says the head of SEAT’s Hybrid and Electric Powertrain development.
Leon e-HYBRID facts and figures
115 hp (85 kW) electric motor
13 kWh battery
Up to 64 km range in electric mode according to WLTP cycle (NEDC: 72 km)
150 hp (110 kW) petrol engine
40 litre fuel tank
Combined power of 204 hp