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Is Sri Lanka ready for Hybrid cars ?

The Hybrid car or as some may refer to it as the car of the future, which seems to have invaded Sri Lankan roads, may have a few hiccups in store for its local users in terms of repairs, spare parts and maintenance, according to industry experts. They say that at present there are no qualified personal to repair defaults in the cars electronic system and emphasized the fact that this car may not be suitable for our country’s climatic conditions. Mirror Business also attempts to answer some questions our readers may have, the Nature of the car, How does it work? Is it truly cost-effective to use? How safe is it? And most of all who do we go to, in case there is a breakdown? and several other questions that you may have, if you’ve got your eyes on a Hybrid car or own one already.

Is Sri Lanka ready for Hybrid cars?

Is Sri Lanka ready for Hybrid cars?

We spoke to Lal Alawatta who is a qualified automobile engineer and the Managing Director of Lal Alawatta Associates in Battaramulla, to get an idea about the background of the car.

Speaking about the car he said, it came in to use in the 80’s and became very popular by late 90’s in western countries. With regard to Sri Lanka, it is just in, with about 200 reconditioned cars in the country. When asked about the technology used in the car he said, it uses a petrol engine and electrically powered motors which are operated by a battery.

“It is an electrically powered drive motor which uses a large battery pack,” he said. “When the engine idles, for an example in a traffic block, the engine will stop and then it will change over to the battery. “These are all computerized. Furthermore, if we are cruising at one particular speed without any load, the same change over would take place. All these changeovers occur through the computer,” he pointed out.

According to Alawatta, if we require more power from the vehicle such as when overtaking, accelerating from a stand still or climbing a hill, the vehicle will run on the petrol engine. “This too is computer-operated he noted. He further went on to say that there are two main types of models. In one model, the battery is charged when the car is in operation as in any other car. In more advanced models, there is the ability to charge the battery through an external power source, while the car is at a stand still,” he said.

Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive

Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive

Technology Transfer
According to Alawatta the car contains a Lithium Dry Cell battery with a life span of 5-10 years, and comes at a cost of about Rs.1 million. He also observed that there is a trend for many models to adopt the Hybrid technology.

“Hyundai is attempting to create Hybrid cars, and within the next couple of months, there will be Mercedes Benz and BMW Hybrid cars coming to Sri Lanka,” he pointed out. However, Sri Lanka is still not geared for repairs of these cars. But in the future, that too will be possible, he noted. “In the past, people were not interested in front wheel driven cars and automatic transmission, but now we see almost every other car with this technology. Likewise, Sri Lanka will definitely adapt to this, but there will be a delay in the technology transfer to countries such as Sri Lanka,” he said.

There are advantages as well disadvantages of having these cars. The advantages according to Alawatta are the obvious economic benefits and the low rate of tax when importing the car which is about 15%. The main disadvantages are the high repair cost, lack of driving pleasure, incompetent staff to handle technical defaults and the lack of spare parts.

Speaking about the costs of the car he said it’s about Rs.3-4 million. “The two main brands Toyota and Honda has fuel consumption of approximately 20-25 km per liter,” he added.

What Honda agents got to say?

Mirror Business spoke to Sanjeeve Gooneratne, General Manager of Stafford Motor Co. (Pvt) Ltd., to get his views on the Honda Hybrid car. Sanjeeve mentioned that there are so many used hybrids imported on a daily basis to the country mainly from Japan and now they are even getting down cars from UK at a cheaper Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) and the main models are the Civic and the Insight. “We as the sole distributor for Honda products in the country, import only the brand-new versions to go in line with the climatic and road conditions. We don’t recommend reconditioned vehicles.”

When asked about the technical assistance Honda Hybrid users could get from Stafford, Sanjeeve said that they are in the process of getting the required equipment organized and sending staff for further training. “We need to do so much more prior to the launch, if Honda Japan is to be convinced and give us the green light,” he noted. “We can service the Hybrid like any other Honda, but we cannot give any assurance with regard to any repairs of used cars imported from various countries.” He emphasized that they are in the process of obtaining the necessary expertise and equipment even to go that extra mile of fulfilling the requirements of a used car owner in time to come.

Sanjeeve went on to say that because of the high fuel efficiency and the low tax rates, companies will also encourage their employees to go for a Hybrid, once the Brand New vehicles come to the market

Toyota Lanka

Toyota Lanka

The viewpoint of Toyota, Sri Lanka

The Managing Director of Toyota Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, Yoshiaki Kato shared some insights about the Toyota Hybrid vehicle which is the Prius. Kato said that the Prius hybrid known as Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD) system combines different power sources to maximize each one’s strengths, while compensating for the others’ shortcomings. “The car is almost soundless when driving and the main feature is its fuel efficiency and environmental-friendliness,” he added.

One version of the Prius actually does approximately 38 liters per Km he said. “We are not importing the Prius as yet because we will not get the go ahead from Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) until we properly train and educate our staff as to how they should handle the vehicle,” Kato said. He added that they are not aware of the suitability of the cars presently imported to Sri Lanka by outside dealers, since those cars are designed for Japanese roads and climate conditions.

“We hope to bring down a few cars suitable for our road and climatic conditions and test them under the local climatic conditions, so that we can get an idea as to how the car performs under our hot and humid conditions,” Kato pointed out. When asked about the battery of the car, he noted that it contains a voltage of 201.6 DC and this voltage is stepped up to 500 to 650 AC three phase voltage by the converter assembly to supply power to the electric motors and he added that handling this would need specialized knowledge.

Honda Insight Hybrid

Honda Insight Hybrid

Prius Vs. Insight

The Honda’s power train is the more conventional of the two. A 13-hp electric motor is sandwiched between the 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission. As a result, Honda’s engine must turn when the car is moving. When cruising at light speeds, the Insight can shut down the engine, but it still rotates. The VTEC system closes the valves to minimize the pumping losses associated with turning the engine. A 0.6-kilowatt-hour nickel-metal-hydride battery stores the energy recovered during braking.

The Toyota, in comparison, employs a pair of electric motors and a planetary continuously variable transmission (CVT) to link them with the 1.8-liter gas engine. This gearbox allows several energy paths. Under hard acceleration, the 80-hp main electric motor assists the gas engine. Under light loads and moderate acceleration, however, the Prius shuts off the gas engine and moves under electric-only power. There’s a dash-mounted Electric Vehicle (EV) switch that provides about a mile of electric-only range, which is limited by the capacity of the 1.3-kwh NiMH battery.

Though these cars differ mechanically, externally they look alike. Both cars benefit from extensive aerodynamic development. Honda hasn’t released the Insight’s drag coefficient figure, but it’s probably close to the Prius’s 0.25. The Prius is, however, a bigger car. Its 106.3-inch wheelbase is nearly 6 inches longer than the Insight’s.

Car manufacturers across the globe have initiated plans to introduce Hybrid cars in to the market. Alawatta mentioned that not only Japanese but also European, Chinese and Indian manufacturers do not want to be left behind in the largest and fastest-growing market in the world.

European giants such as Mercedes Bens, Jaguar, Peugeot and Renault and Indian manufacturers Tata and Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M) are also to unveil their versions of the Hybrid vehicle in the coming years.

Source: Daily Mirror

Stafford Motor Co.(Pvt) Ltd.
No. 718/7, Maradana Road, Colombo 10.
Tel: 4-607200
Fax: 2-697423
Email: info@honda.lk

Toyota Lanka
Tel: 11 2939000 / 2939007
Fax – +94 11 2941941
Email: sales_inquiries@toyota.lk

Toyota Lanka Customer Care Hotline
Tel: 11 2939313
Email: customer_care@toyota.lk

Request a Toyota Car Brochure

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1 Comment| Loginto comment

  • shinninglikeme  commented on  7/3/17 1:25am

    Hybrid cars are truly high on maintenance as of now. It is a future car but still, it is a very high priced car. Many in Srilanka prefer a fuel economical car, which is available at a competitive price. A car owner wants its car to look stylish, comfortable, fuel efficient, and low on maintenance with all its spare parts easily available at fair cost in the local market. Tata Motors passenger vehicles prove to be the best for all these classifications. Know more @ http://www.tatamotors.lk/

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