By Evans Kipngetich
Hybrid cars have become popular on Kenyan roads. A hybrid car is one that uses two more engines, an electric motor and a conventional engine powered by petrol or diesel.
The electric engine powers the car at lower speeds, which is normally below 60Km/h and gas engine powers it at higher speeds. While the technology has existed since the early 1900s, it only in the past decade that the cars have been affordable to an average car buyer. Better fuel economy is the primary motivation behind hybridization.
The more you can rely on electricity, the less gasoline or diesel you need to burn. Andrew Maina has been driving a Honda Insight Hybrid for the past 16 months and he says the car has never disappointed him. Maina says the car is economical in terms of fuel consumption adding that the car has little maintenance costs. “This car has a rechargeable battery.
The battery helps me a lot when I am driving at low speed especially during morning and evening traffic jam in Nairobi,” he says. “I used to drive Toyota Fielder before that had the same engine capacity as this car (Honda Hybrid). I have since realized I could spend four times more than what I am spending now in buying fuel,” he adds.
Although hybrid vehicles are easy to spot in Nairobi, some motorists still perceive them as unreliable due to lack of technicians familiar with the hybrid systems. Hybrid vehicles also have their shortcomings. Maina says it is hard to find a local mechanic who can handle it effectively when its systems break down. Hybrid vehicles also command a higher resale value.
The car is environmentally friendly and has low emission rates. “With continuous increase in price of fuel, more and more people are turning towards hybrid cars. The result is that these green vehicles have started commanding higher than average resale values,” he says.
Hybrid vehicle’s gasoline engine, primary source of power, is a smaller engine compared to what you get in single engine powered cars. The electric motor is low power. However, a hybrid car is most suitable for urban driving.